Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the Legal History of Racism in America

May 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 17-4: Reforming Our Schools, Native Style, Media Reviews

LOADED WEAPON COVERby Robert A. Williams Jr.
University of Minnesota Press (2005) – 270 pages
ISBN  0-8166-4710-0 (paperback) 0-8166-4709-7 (hardcover)
$18.95 paperback, $56.95 hardcover

Review by Michael W. Simpson

Like a Loaded Weapon recalls the dangers of selecting both Supreme Court Justices and historians from a narrow pool of privilege. The “poor savage, noble Indian” is fixed in time and space after conquest by a “superior” civilization. As wards of their “Great White Father in Washington,” even when they win a legal case, they lose.

Williams points out how the Marshall trilogy of legal cases in the early 1800s still frames the Indian cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court post-Brown. The Marshall model is based upon colonizer principles asserting the inferiority of Indians and the European international legal doctrine of discovery and possession as giving European nations land. Arguing within the racist Marshall model simply perpetuates the racist language and views of Indians in the law and society.

This book is a must read for lawyers, judges, and educators.

Michael W. Simpson, J.D., M.Ed., is a lawyer, educator, mediator, and social activist studying education policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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