Peter d'Errico

Peter d'Errico
University of Massachusetts Amherst | UMass Amherst · Department of Legal Studies

Juris Doctor

About

39
Publications
4,459
Reads
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187
Citations
Citations since 2017
26 Research Items
67 Citations
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Additional affiliations
September 1970 - May 2002
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Position
  • Professor
Description
  • Founding faculty member of department. Developed liberal arts legal studies curriculum. Specialized in legal issues affecting Indigenous peoples.
June 1968 - June 1970
Dinébe’iiná Náhiiłna be Agha’diit’ahii
Position
  • Lawyer
Description
  • Legal representation for Navajo clients in civil and criminal cases.
Education
September 1965 - May 1968
Yale University
Field of study
  • Law
September 1961 - May 1965
Bates College
Field of study
  • philosophy

Publications

Publications (39)
Book
Full-text available
Telling the crucial and under-studied story of the U.S. legal doctrines that underpin the dispossession and domination of Indigenous peoples, this book intends to enhance global Indigenous movements for self-determination. In this wide-ranging historical study of federal Indian law—the field of U.S. law related to Native peoples—attorney and educa...
Presentation
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View the event in its entirety: https://vimeo.com/786042114 "The legislative history of ICWA suggests that Congress operated as a benign force creating cultural understanding that respected and empowered difference. … But this version of the story does not accord with the Act itself, which hedges tribal sovereignty about with state and federal co...
Article
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When Lloyd Omdahl referred to “tribal sovereignty” as “an idea that is over 200 years old,” he was talking about a U.S. legal concept, not the status of Indigenous nations based on their existence in these lands for millennia. The concept of “tribal sovereignty” is a denial of the free existence of Indigenous nations. March 10, 2023, will be the 20...
Presentation
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An article in The Nation, November 18, 2022, “It’s Time to Give Indigenous Land Back,” starts out strong, but misunderstands the crucial legal issue. The strong start is a clear statement that the root of the land issue is a bizarre doctrine by which the US claims to own Indigenous lands: “A genocidal campaign of conquest—fueled and justified by t...
Presentation
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Attorney Buz Eisenberg interviews Peter d’Errico to discuss his new book, Federal Anti-Indian Law: The Legal Entrapment of Indigenous Peoples, and American Indian Heritage Month. https://whmp.com/podcasts/the-afternoon-buzz-11-18-22-professor-peter-derrico-fair-play-with-duke-goldman-with-sports-author-and-financial-professional-bill-ryczek/ WHMP...
Presentation
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The issue in the Brackeen case is whether the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is constitutional. Some observers are fearful the Supreme Court will use the case to attack the notion of “tribal sovereignty” by applying “race theory” to characterize Indigenous peoples, in contrast to an approach that sees Indigenous peoples as “political” entities qua...
Presentation
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Presentation
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This a part of ECOLOGIA's Native American and Indigenous Paths to Environmental Resilience program and one of several podcasts and print transcripts focused on the challenges to and emerging opportunities for indigenous people to take control of environmental affairs on their own lands and on contested lands.
Presentation
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Join us for an in-depth look into the visit of Pope Francis to the First Nations Territories. What does it mean? What doesn't it mean. What are the potential outcomes for First Nations Peoples?
Presentation
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What does the doctrine of Christian discovery have to do with the struggle for water quality? For increasing water temperature? For the potential extinction of Salmon? For the genocide of Native Nations and their Peoples’ Ways of Life? More than you can imagine ... Join us for an in-depth look into the history and current conditions that are contri...
Article
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Rethinking the use of "Indian" in common plant names. Article in Wildflower Magazine, University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. https://www.wildflower.org/magazine/people/whats-in-a-name-2
Presentation
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A podcast of "Indigenous Perspectives" exploring the puzzling and troubling history of relations between Native American Indian tribal nations and the United States and Canada. Participants: Peter d'Errico, Steven Schwartzberg, Randy Kritkausky, Carolyn Schmidt. For audio podcast: http://www.ecologia.org/news/15.IndianLawPt2Jan2022.mp3
Presentation
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Many people are under the impression that the international arena and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) provide a path of decolonization, a leverage Indigenous nations and peoples can use to their advantage. Few people appreciate that "international law" originated in the fifteenth century as the "Law of Na...
Presentation
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The Dawn of Everything, a “new history of humanity” by David Graeber and David Wengrow, an anthropology and archaeology research team, joins a burgeoning global awareness that life on Earth is in social and ecological crisis and that the crisis is tied to the system of industrial state corporate society. The book’s contribution is to help us unders...
Presentation
Full-text available
A podcast of "Indigenous Perspectives" exploring the puzzling and troubling history of relations between Native American Indian tribal nations and the United States and Canada. Participants: Peter d'Errico, Steven Schwartzberg, Randy Kritkausky, Carolyn Schmidt. For audio podcast: http://www.ecologia.org/news/14.IndianLawDec2021.mp3 For transcri...
Presentation
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Redthought.org offered a special two-part presentation on a legal challenge to defend Oceti Sakowin (“Seven Council Fires”) lands against the invasion of an oil pipeline: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access, LLC. The case went through 16 hearings between September 2016 and May...
Presentation
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A review of Elizabeth Cassell’s The Terms of our Surrender: Colonialism, Dispossession and the Resistance of the Innu (University of London Press, 2021)
Article
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Steve Russell is a big man, physically, intellectually, and morally. He's also a great writer and storyteller. His recent memoir, Lighting the Fire: A Cherokee Journey from Dropout to Professor, tells the story of his life through overlapping and intertwining tales. The overall structure is chronological, but the chapters often take a step back or...
Presentation
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This Redthought event addresses the history of the "civilization" program designed to destroy Native nations and peoples by kidnapping their children and forcing them to undergo a brutal reeducation program in boarding schools far from their families. The goal was to destroy Native languages, cultures, ceremonial, and spiritual traditions by breaki...
Article
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So much hoopla surrounded the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision that few people could see what the case really decided. McGirt did not transform federal Indian law. In fact, McGirt upheld the key federal Indian law doctrine of US domination over Native nations and peoples — the doctrine called “congressional plenary power.” It said the Creek Nation exist...
Article
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The strangest aspect of US federal Indian law is its imperviousness to critique. Imagine that you were reading an article by lawyers before 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education) discussing how to fit their Black clients into the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine. There were such lawyers, until Thurgood Marshall and his team pushed through them and made th...
Presentation
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This three-part event focuses on the July 2020 US Supreme Court decision, McGirt v. Oklahoma. The presentation uses the McGirt case as a window into US federal Indian law, to understand how the US built a system of domination over Native Nations on the basis of the 15th century doctrine of "Christian discovery." The context and framework for the en...
Presentation
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Commentary after the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision has split between those who praise it as a victory for "tribal sovereignty" and those who bemoan the "jurisdictional complexity" left in its wake. These perspectives ignore the fundamental reasoning of the decision-affirmation of US "plenary power" over Native nations premised on a claim of "Christia...
Article
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Justice Neil Gorsuch’s use of the conservative “strict interpretation, originalist” approach to legal reasoning in McGirt v. Oklahoma has changed the climate in US federal Indian law jurisprudence in ways not imaginable in recent years. Many commentators have gushingly described the decision as “a major victory for Indigenous sovereignty.” But Nati...
Research
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Jeffrey Amherst's name became tarnished by stories of smallpox-infected blankets used as germ warfare against American Indians. These stories are reported, for example, in Carl Waldman's Atlas of the North American Indian [NY: Facts on File, 1985]. Waldman writes, in reference to a siege of Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) by Chief Pontiac's forces during th...
Article
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United States "federal Indian law" consists of a body of rules rooted in the colonial doctrine of "Christian discovery." Viewed through the lens of Carl Schmitt's concept of "sovereign ban," Christian discovery creates a "state of exception," placing Native Peoples both inside and outside the constitutional order of the United States and simultaneo...
Article
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Michael Tomasky, in “The Specter Haunting the Senate” [New York Review of Books, 30 September 2010], repeats the conventional, misguided, self-defeating notion that the Senate cannot do anything significant without sixty votes to invoke cloture on threatened filibusters. To the contrary, perhaps the most significant action the Senate majority might...
Article
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"Making Indian Law" is an effort to explain the Hualapai case from a Hualapai perspective, but the book is more than that: It is an effort to position the Hualapai case as a turning point in federal Indian law. If McMillen had delved more deeply, he would have seen the case as a way station, not a turning point, and could have given us an example o...
Article
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My purpose in this essay was to explore the doctrine of "corporate personality," to deconstruct the metaphor of legal "being," and to reveal it "as an intersection of competing discourses… as a point of fracture in which different systems of signs are transposed, translated and articulated." Recent events, including the January 2009 U.S. S.Ct. deci...
Chapter
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The formative influence of Christian doctrines on U.S. law was once clear and unambiguous. Religious dogmas of fifteenth-century Vatican papal bulls were deployed as the foundation of property law, nationhood, and federal Indian law in the early nineteenth century. Court decisions bound U.S. law to the world of Christendom and Christian imperialism...
Article
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In 1837, the British House of Commons Select Committee on Aborigines offered a succinct summary of the perspective from which Christian nation-states competed to maximize colonial resource extraction from Indigenous, non-Christian peoples: "True civilization and Christianity are inseparable: the former has never been found, but as a fruit of the la...
Article
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Late 20th century Native America presents the same conflicts as the late 18th century: land and water rights, hunting and fishing, religious freedom, criminal and civil jurisdiction. In fact, these conflicts are typical of relations between indigenous peoples and colonizers on the American continent as a whole beginning over five centuries ago. Occ...
Article
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It is not unusual to find John Marshall lauded as the "greatest judicial advocate of Indian sovereignty." Three seminal Supreme Court opinions authored by him -- Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), and Worcester v. Georgia (1832) -- are frequently said to have established legal "protection" for American Indians. What is i...
Article
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The definition of indigenous justice -- rooted in spirituality -- shifts attention away from state institutions and toward community relations. Indigenous justice is peace-making that allows each community to survive from "time immemorial.” State institutions are based on a framework of absolute power and such power is generally absent in indigenou...
Article
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Christian nationalism has achieved hegemony, but has not been able to end its conflict with those it regards as "aboriginal," here before the beginning. The prior inhabi- tants of colonialized lands have survived, and continue to assert prior claims to the land in domestic and international proceedings. Un- abashed colonialism continues internation...
Article
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An essay written in December 1995 for Interracial Voice, commenting on the murder trial of O. J. Simpson. "O. J.'s blood (or was it?) appeared to be the only question in the trial of O. J. Simpson. Media, frustrated with low-tech legal processes, fixated on DNA. In the end, the jury appeared concerned with other blood that emerged from police test...
Article
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Peter Mattiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse is a momentous work. It was published in a period of renewed agitation about Native sovereignty and treaty claims more than a decade after the last flowering of public interest in American Indians. The book is a detailed tome of investigative reporting on a topic of inflammatory significance—the death...
Article
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Efforts at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst illustrate how academic programs such as Legal Studies can form the basis for conflict resolution in the local community as well as on campus. The study of conflict and its resolution lies at the core of many disciplines , but perhaps none touches as closely on this subject as legal studies, th...
Article
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Sovereignty is classically defined as supreme legal authority. The concept was formulated by sixteenth century legal philosopher Jean Bodin and elaborated by many theorists since then. One basic controversy has been whether to trace supreme authority to the people or to a "divine right" of rulers. Another has been about the relation between legal a...

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