The Yale Law Journal

Federal Indian Law


Empire States: The Coming of Dual Federalism

Gregory Ablavsky

In the standard account of federalism’s eighteenth-century origins, the Framers divided government power among two sovereigns to protect individual liberties. This Article offers an alternative history. It emphasizes that federalism was a form of centralization—a shift of authority from diffuse quas…


Environmental Justice and Tribal Sovereignty: Lessons from Standing Rock

Mary Kathryn Nagle

The Standing Rock protests represent the latest iteration of longstanding tribal dissent against an environmental law framework that overlooks their interests. This Essay contends that the environmental movement’s failure to advocate for the restoration of tribal sovereignty has also left intact a l…


Oral Tradition and the Kennewick Man

Cathay Y. N. Smith

In April 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmedthat the ancient human body discovered in 1996 near Kennewick, Washington,often referred to as the “Kennewick Man” or “The Ancient One,” is geneticallyrelated to modern-day Native Americans. Thisconfirmation ended a twenty-year-long struggle b…


Contract and (Tribal) Jurisdiction

Matthew L.M. Fletcher

Consider two commercial contracts. The first requires customers to waive their rights to bring class actions against large businesses in favor of private arbitration. The second requires a reservation leaseholder to adjudicate disputes in tribal court. Both contracts require dispute resolution in fo…


(Re)Solving the Tribal No-Forum Conundrum: Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community

Matthew L.M. Fletcher

Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, a dispute over a controversial off-reservation Indian casino, is the latest opportunity for the Supreme Court to address the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity. The Court could hand Michigan a big win by broadly abrogating tribal immunity, and in turn wreak…


Lightning in the Hand: Indians and Voting Rights

Pamela S. Karlan

120 Yale L.J. 1420 (2011). 

American Indians and the Fight for Equal Voting Rights

By Laughlin McDonald

Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010, pp. 347. $55.00.


In Defense of Property

Kristen A. Carpenter, Sonia K. Katyal, & Angela R. Riley

118 Yale L.J. 1022 (2009).


This Article responds to an emerging view, in scholarship and popular society, that it is normatively undesirable to employ property law as a means of protecting indigenous cultural heritage. Recent critiques suggest that propertizing culture impedes the free flow of i…


Property Rights and Sacred Sites: Federal Regulatory Responses to American Indian Religious Claims on Public Land

Marcia Yablon

113 Yale L.J. 1623 (2004)

The courts and Congress have left sacred sites protection in the hands of land management agencies, and although many feared this decision would be disastrous, land agencies have actually embraced their role and sought to accommodate Indian religions and protect their sacred…