Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1994


Published in Great Plains Research 4:2 (August 1994). Copyright © 1994 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


In Crow Dog's Case, Sidney L. Harring's objective was to correct the omission of tribal legal traditions from United States Indian law. The reason for this exclusion, according to Harring, is that federal Indian law historically focused on policy questions outside of tribal cultural and historical contexts while at the same time, the tribes' cultural-based legal traditions remained rooted in tribal culture and history. Confined to this policy-based judicial vision, nineteenth century courts made "ahistorical" decisions which distorted or ignored tribal jurisprudence and created a legacy of ongoing misconceptions of tribal legal traditions and customs.