Steven Newcomb: Even the media treats our nations as 'nothing'

Cover to special edition: The Supreme Court: Decisions that Changed America. Image from Time

Steven Newcomb of the Indigenous Law Institute wonders why Time didn't include any Indian law cases in its special edition that focused on significant U.S. Supreme Court decisions:
I recently purchased a Time magazine special edition, “The Supreme Court: Decisions that Changed America.” Such topics as Privacy, Free Speech, Civil Rights, Abortion, Guns, Same-Sex Marriage, and Obamacare appear on the magazine cover. After reading through the magazine, I found nothing included about American Indians, or Native nations. According to the editors at Time magazine, the U.S. Supreme Court has not made even one decision having to do with Indians or our original nations which “Changed America.” The Time magazine editors thereby treated our nations as nothing.

Perhaps Time’s editors would have felt compelled to include at least one decision about Native nations if the focus of their special edition had been “Supreme Court Decisions Foundational To America.” After all, the 1823 Supreme Court ruling Johnson & Graham’s Lessee v. M’Intosh defines Indian land title from the perspective of the United States, and it serves to this day as the cornerstone of the property law system of the United States. What is more foundational to the economic system of the United States than ownership of property – especially real property?

Upon reflection, every square inch of soil claimed by the United States is part of the traditional territory of some original nation of the continent. Yet Time’s editors apparently ignore the connection between our original nations and the history of the United States, which is traced even to the Declaration of Independence and its expression of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” That phrase ought to read, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness Through the Domination of Indian Land,” for the latter theme runs throughout the history of the United States and its Supreme Court decisions in relation to our Native nations.

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: The Supreme Court and the Tradition of Being Considered 'as Nothing' (Indian Country Today 11/27)

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