The debate over which legal Indigenous Peoples should govern Native American political power and property rights, or even whether they should be protected by law at all, caused conflicts challenging the autonomy of the legal system and led to changes of the original principles of Indian rights. The outcome of that conflict raises two questions of federal Indian law. One is where its principles contributed to the survival of Native Americans in the United States; the other is whether the same legal principles are responsible for the perpetual inferiority of Natives Americans in their own land. More starkly, the question is whether the law ought to be praised or cursed for what it has done to the Indian.

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Copyright © 1994 Association for American Indian Research. This article first appeared in Wicazo Sa Review 10:1 (April 1994), 1-13.

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