In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever

Nov 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: 23-2: Climate Commitment, Media Reviews

Fulcrum Press (2010)

Review by Michael W. Simpson

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the racist laws against African Americans in Brown v. Board of Education, the very same court stated in Tee-Hit-Ton v. United States (1955) that “Every American schoolboy knows that the savage tribes of this continent were deprived of their ancestral ranges by force.”

More than five decades later, this case still has yet to be reversed—and is one of Walter Echo-Hawk’s 10 worst Indian law cases. This particular case denied Alaska Natives compensation for lands taken where their land rights had not previously been recognized by Congress.

The author provides incredible background and insight for each case and into the overall development of federal Indian law in the United States and does so in a wonderfully readable way. In addition, he offers solutions.

Echo-Hawk’s book should be required reading not only at tribal colleges and universities, but at Harvard, Yale, and Stanford law schools—schools which have produced many U.S. Supreme Court justices. Lawyers that assist Native nations need this book to learn how to change the way they cite cases and also to add additional citations.

But this book should not be limited to law shelves. This book is useful in many areas and recognizes that massive educational effort is needed before social movement can remove the dark side of federal Indian law. It is also an important read for members of Native organizations, activists, social studies methods professors, and social studies teachers.

Michael W. Simpson, J.D., M.Ed, is a teacher, lawyer, and social justice advocate and a Ph.D. candidate in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona. He may be reached at

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