Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2009


Published in Great Plains Research 19.2 (Fall 2009): 249-50.


Copyright 2009 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


“. . . [T]he question is whether the law ought to be praised or cursed for what it has done to the Indian.” This was the seminal and troubling question raised by Petra Shattuck and Jill Norgren in their well-constructed book Partial Justice: Federal Indian Law in a Liberal Constitutional System in 1991. It is a question that has bedeviled Native peoples and non-Natives for decades.

N. Bruce Duthu is the latest academic to weigh in on this contentious debate. Drawing on a wealth of historical, political, and especially legal data, Duthu charts a balanced course through the uneven ground of treaty, constitutional, statutory, and case law to “show how federal Indian law reflects the paradoxes and tensions of our past but also contains the critical elements that could be useful in developing a more respectful and mutually beneficial framework for political relations.”