American Indians & the Constitution

2004 Fall Quarter
The Evergreen State College


The following are the primary academic activities of the program, aimed at honing your critical thinking, speaking and writing skills:

Reading.  You will be expected to read the assigned material carefully and analytically.

Case Analysis.  Using the Socratic method, we will analyze the major court decisions affecting American Indians: what were the specific legal issues before the court, what was its holding, what was its rationale and how did it change the political and legal standing of American Indians as per prior understanding of what laws were applicable to American Indians and how they should or should not be applied? What are the implications for sovereignty? One dictionary definition of the Socratic method:  "instruction by questions and answers, as adopted by Socrates in his disputations, leading pupils either to a foreseen conclusion or to contradict themselves." This, instead of lectures, is the standard method of instruction used in law schools. While it is quite effective to help students develop their critical thinking skills, it can be quite intimidating in the hands of unforgiving instructors.  In this class, we will use a benign version of the Socratic method, hopefully avoiding its menacing tendencies. Only if you come to class unprepared will you likely feel ineffectual or distressed.

Seminar.  This is different from case analysis.  For one thing, we will not be using the Socratic method, which is strictly controlled and directed by the faculty member.  Second, in seminar we will be emphasizing issues, and hopefully students will be in control most of the time. Always come to seminar well prepared so that you can be in control.

Writing.  The following writing will be required:
Oral Arguments.  You, your co-counsel, and the opposing counsel will present oral arguments on your case before a panel of justices of the Evergreen Supreme Court.  Your oral arguments will be based on the written arguments you will have made in your appellate brief.  You will also be required to serve as a justice to hear your peers’ oral arguments and to render a decision in their case.  This all may sound scary, but by the time it comes for you to give your oral argument at the end of the quarter, you will be well prepared (assuming you are diligent in completing the work as it is due.  This will be a collaborative activity with lots of help along the way.

Final Examination.  The final week of class there will be a written final examination.  It will consist of an essay question and/or hypothetical case involving a legal controversy affecting American Indians and their tribes.   Don’t try to cram for this test; it won’t work. If you do your academic work well throughout the quarter, you will be more than ready to render a decision with stellar legal analysis!

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  . Last modified: 9/08/04