Washington State University Indigenous Peoples’ Day Speech on the Doctrine of Discovery

Check out my one hour and 14 minute talk on Zoom for Washington State University. I discussed the Doctrine of Discovery and Johnson v. McIntosh (1823) and how international law has for over 600 years limited and infringed on the sovereign, political, human, and property rights of Indigenous Peoples. The talk is on YouTube:

 https://youtu.be/hYBh353_QWw

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McGirt – Native Americans, State Leaders Grapple With Legal Uncertainty in Oklahoma

The Voice of America published this article today, July 31, 2021. This reporter interviewed, and was given a spreadsheet by, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections that shows the number of state prisoners that have been released “to the street” because of McGirt and the subsequent state court cases that have re-recognized seven Indian reservations in that state. If I’m reading the chart correctly, only 57 inmates have been released, and others have been transferred to federal and tribal authorities to be prosecuted.

I guess Oklahoma’s attorneys were totally wrong when they argued to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 and 2020 that if the Court held the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation still existed that thousands of criminal convicts would be released! Oklahoma Governor Stitt has continued to try to frighten the public by predicting and hinting that thousands of inmates could be released.

Cecily Hilleary, , Voice of America, July 31, 2021, https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.voanews.com/usa/native-americans-state-leaders-grapple-legal-uncertainty-oklahoma__;!!IKRxdwAv5BmarQ!Lf2bSDcR_lkva0aHPiqX8ZM5TCbR56nIdS3vcFpEZPoqQf2KsdJoWoywE3Klo_qT0fBm$

Native Americans, State Leaders Grapple With Legal Uncertainty in OklahomaEmotions are running high in the U.S. state of Oklahoma one year after the most important Indian law decision in a century: In July 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress had never formally disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma, created by an 1833 treaty and extending across the eastern half of the state.   Though the Supreme Court’s decision applies only to criminal jurisdiction, it has the potential to expand beyond into environmental and energy arenas.
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Doctrine of Discovery lecture

On July 29 I gave a public lecture in the Oregon Historical Society series called the History Pub, at the Kennedy School McMenamin’s pub in Portland Oregon. Over 250 people attended. The Oregon Historical Society has posted the video on its web page and on YouTube where you can view the talk in its entirety –

https://www.ohs.org/events/oregon-indigenous-nations-manifest-destiny-and-the-doctrine-of-discovery.cfm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BOuK-ztL_w

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The International Law of Colonialism in East Africa: Germany, England, and the Doctrine of Discovery

Professor Robert Miller and Olivia Stitz, ASU Law 2021, are publishing their article on the use of the Doctrine of Discovery by European nations and the United States to carve up Africa for colonial empires at the Berlin Conference and Berlin Act of 1885. 

Robert J. Miller & Olivia Stitz, The International Law of Colonialism in East Africa: Germany, England, and the Doctrine of Discovery, 32 Duke J. Comp. & Int’l L. __ (2021).

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3798893

Abstract:

The non-European, non-Christian world was colonized under international law that is known today as the Doctrine of Discovery. This common-law international Doctrine was codified into European international law at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 and in the Berlin Act of 1885 specifically to partition and colonize Africa. Thirteen European countries and the United States attended the four-month Conference and then thirteen countries signed the Berlin Act on February 26, 1885. Under the Discovery Doctrine and the Berlin Act, European countries claimed superior rights over African nations and Indigenous Peoples. When European explorers planted crosses, signed hundreds of treaties, and raised flags in many parts of Africa, they were making legal claims of ownership and domination over the native nations and peoples, and their lands and assets. These claims were justified in the fifteenth and in the nineteenth centuries by racial, ethnocentric, and religious ideas about the alleged superiority of European Christian nations. This Article examines the application of the Doctrine and the Berlin Act by England and Germany in East Africa, the area that now comprises Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. This comparative law analysis demonstrates convincingly that the Berlin Act and these colonizing countries applied what we define as the ten elements of the Doctrine of Discovery. These elements had been developed and refined by European legal and political systems since the mid-1400s. Over 400 years later, the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 expressly and implicitly adopted and codified all ten elements to control the European partition and colonization of Africa. Germany and England used this international law to colonize East Africa. Needless to say, European domination, exploitation, and colonization seriously injured the human, property, sovereign, and self-determination rights of Indigenous nations and peoples and still impacts them today. The comparative legal analysis set out in this Article will benefit readers to see more clearly how law affected and directed African colonization, and to develop a better understanding of the international law of colonialism, that historic process, the impacts of colonization, and why this knowledge is of crucial importance to us all.

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McGirt v. Oklahoma law review article

Our law review article, Robert J. Miller & Torey Dolan, The Indian Law Bombshell: McGirt v. Oklahoma, will be published in 101 Boston University L. Rev. __ (2021).

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3670425

Abstract

On July 9, 2020, the United States Supreme Court held by a 5-4 vote that the borders of the 1866 Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation in Oklahoma remain intact. The decision landed like a bombshell. Overnight, the Creek Reservation was reaffirmed and recognized as covering three and a quarter million acres. The entire area is once again recognized as “Indian Country” as defined by federal law. One million Oklahomans discovered that they now live on an Indian reservation, including 400,000 people in the city of Tulsa. The United States, Oklahoma, and Oklahomans will now have to deal with numerous and complex issues involving Creek Nation jurisdiction over an enormously larger expanse of land and population than was previously assumed. This case has very significant and crucially important implications that will involve the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, other tribes in Oklahoma, and tribes across the country in future negotiations, lawsuits, and perhaps legislative efforts to address the issues that will arise. McGirt is probably the most significant Indian law case in well over one hundred years, and it will have serious repercussions for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Oklahoma, the United States, and other Indian nations located in that state and nationwide. In this Article, we examine McGirt in depth and we will then focus our attention on its future ramifications for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, federal Indian law, the United States, Indian nations in Oklahoma, the state of Oklahoma, and Indian nations and peoples across the country.

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McGirt v. Oklahoma (2020): The Indian Law Bombshell

Professor Robert J. Miller, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, published the cover article for the March/April Indian Law specific edition of The Federal Lawyer, the journal of the Federal Bar Association. 


Robert J. Miller, McGirt v. Oklahoma: The Indian Law Bombshell. https://www.fedbar.org/blog/magazine/march-april-2021/

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McGirt v. Oklahoma – The Indian Law Bombshell

On July 9, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a monumental federal Indian law decision. In the McGirt case, the Court held that the three and a quarter million acre Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation of 1866 still exists today inside Oklahoma. This case is reverberating throughout Indian Country and has already impacted other Indian nations in Oklahoma and across the country.

On November 19, I delivered a one hour talk – “The Indian Law Bombshell: McGirt v. Oklahoma” for the American Philosophical Society.

The recording of this event is available on the event page (https://www.amphilsoc.org/events/indian-law-bombshell-mcgirt-v-oklahoma-virtual-discussion-robert-j-miller)

or by going directly to the Society’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyEDomuAzmM).

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The Indian Law Bombshell: McGirt v. Oklahoma (U.S. Supreme Court July 9, 2020)

Feel free to attend my one hour talk over Zoom for the American Philosophical Society on Thursday November 19 at 10 am PST and 1 pm EST.

You can register for the talk and get the Zoom internet link at https://www.amphilsoc.org/events/indian-law-bombshell-mcgirt-v-oklahoma-virtual-discussion-robert-j-miller

APS Facebook page: https://fb.me/e/35rFtX64e

“On July 9, 2020, the United States Supreme Court held by a 5-4 vote that the borders of the 1866 Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation in Oklahoma remain intact. The decision landed like a bombshell. Overnight, the Creek Reservation was reaffirmed and recognized as covering three and a quarter million acres. The entire area is once again recognized as “Indian Country” as defined by federal law. One million Oklahomans discovered that they now live on an Indian reservation, including 400,000 people in the city of Tulsa. The United States, Oklahoma, and Oklahomans will now have to deal with numerous complex issues involving Creek Nation jurisdiction and sovereignty over an enormously larger expanse of land and population than was previously assumed. This case has very significant and crucially important implications that will involve the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, other tribes in Oklahoma, and tribes across the country in future negotiations, lawsuits, and perhaps legislative efforts to address the issues that will arise. McGirt is probably the most significant Indian law case in well over one hundred years, and it will have serious repercussions for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Oklahoma, the United States, and other Indian nations.

In this talk, Professor Robert J. Miller, Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Professor and APS Member (Class of 2014), will explain the McGirt decision and focus on its future ramifications for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, federal Indian law, the United States, Indian nations in Oklahoma, the state of Oklahoma, and Indian nations and peoples across the country.”

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Kamala Harris is not first Vice-President of color

It is important to be historically accurate and we all need to be aware of the first Vice-President of color.

In 1928, Sen. Charles Curtis, R-Ks, a Kaw Indian, was elected VP along with President Herbert Hoover. He had previously been a congressman and the Senate majority leader.

Curtis “was fond of noting his rise from ‘Kaw teepee to the Capitol,’ decorated his office with Native art and posed for pictures wearing Indian headdresses.” 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Curtis

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Federal Execution of a Navajo Nation Citizen

As the United States proceeds towards executing Lezmond Mitchell, a Navajo Nation citizen, many native activists and the Navajo Nation itself are protesting this proposed act.

To get some background on this issue, read this op/ed piece by ASU Law grad Kevin Heade. The Native American Bar Association of Arizona also signed a letter opposing the death penalty in this case.

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