Making Indian Law The Hualapai Land Case and the Birth of Ethnohistory Christian W. McMillen

Publication date:
23 Feb 2007
304 pages: 228 x 152 x 24mm
2 maps

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In 1941, a groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court decision changed the field of Indian law, setting off an intellectual and legal revolution that continues to reverberate around the world. This book tells for the first time the story of that case, United States, as Guardian of the Hualapai Indians of Arizona, v. Santa Fe Pacific Railroad Co., which ushered in a new way of writing Indian history to serve the law of land claims. Since 1941, the Hualapai case has travelled the globe. Wherever and whenever indigenous land claims are litigated, the shadow of the Hualapai case falls over the proceedings. Threatened by railroad claims and by an unsympathetic government in the post - World War I years, Hualapai activists launched a campaign to save their reservation, a campaign which had at its centre documenting the history of Hualapai land use. The book recounts how key individuals brought the case to the Supreme Court against great odds and highlights the central role of the Indians in formulating new understandings of native people, their property, and their past.

Christian W. McMillen is assistant professor of history and American studies, University of Virginia.

This captivating account of the epic struggle over Hualapai land occupation offers rich insights into American Indian law and also reminds us of how the American legal system, with all its flaws, sometimes stands tall as the ultimate protector of dispossessed peoples. Charles Wilkinson, author of "Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations"--Charles Wilkinson"