Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Jensen on HLR and the "Iroquois Influence Thesis"

Erik M. Jensen, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, has posted The Harvard Law Review and the Iroquois Influence Thesis, which is forthcoming in volume 6 of the British Journal of American Legal Studies:    
In a recent Developments in the Law chapter on the Indian Civil Rights Act, authors and editors at the Harvard Law Review seemed to take seriously the so-called “Iroquois influence thesis,” the idea that basic principles of the American government were derived from American Indian nations, in particular the Iroquois Confederacy. Although the influence thesis has acquired a life of its own, being taught in some of America’s elementary and secondary schools, it is nonsense. (One of the sources cited in support of this made-up history is a congressional resolution, as if Congress has some special, historical expertise.) Nothing in American Indian law and policy should depend on the influence thesis, and it is unfortunate that a prominent law review has given it credence. This article explains how the Harvard folks were misguided and why the influence thesis should be interred.