William C. Canby Jr. Lecture

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Struggles in Federal Indian Law: Alaska Native Rights and the Katie John Litigation CLE

Aboriginal land claims in Alaska were not settled until 1971 with passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. ANCSA was an experimental approach that contained aspects of the termination policy as well as the self-determination policy. While sovereignty and land tenure issues remain in some degree of flux, Native rights to hunt, fish, and gather were not adequately dealt with in the Settlement. This year’s lecture will review the Settlement of aboriginal claims, and focus on the litigation over the right to fish at a traditional village and fish camp site by upper Ahtna people. This battle was led by Katie John, a revered Alaska Native elder who refused to accept the State of Alaska’s closure of a customary and traditional Native fishery. Katie John’s journey through the federal courts reveals a story of determination, and deep flaws in the Settlement Act respecting hunting, fishing and gathering rights.

Guest Lecturer

Robert T. Anderson
Director, Native American Law Center, University of Washington
Professor of Law, University of Washington
Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Robert Anderson is a Professor and Director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington School of Law, and is the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where he teaches annually. He teaches primarily in the areas of American Indian law, water law, natural resources law, and property law. He is a co-author and member of the Board of Editors of COHEN'S HANDBOOK OF FEDERAL INDIAN LAW (2005) and (2012). He is a co-author of Anderson, Berger, Frickey and Krakoff, AMERICAN INDIAN LAW: CASES AND COMMENTARY (3RD ED. 2015). He spent twelve years as a Staff Attorney for the Boulder based Native American Rights Fund where he litigated major cases involving Native American sovereignty and natural resources. He was one of the two attorneys who opened NARF's Alaska office in 1984. From 1995-2001, he served as a political appointee in the Clinton Administration under Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, providing legal and policy advice on a wide variety of Indian law and natural resource issues. Bob was the co-chair of the Obama transition team for the Department of the Interior in 2008, and one of five members of the National Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform. He is a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe.

About the lecture

This annual lecture is named in honor of William C. Canby Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a founding faculty member of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the Indian Legal Program. 

Judge Canby was born in St. Paul, Minn., and graduated summa cum laude from Yale University in 1953, and from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1956, Order of the Coif. He served two years as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Air Force, then clerked for Associate Justice Charles Evans Whittaker on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958-59. During his tenure as a law clerk, the Supreme Court decided Williams v. Lee, a case that sparked Judge Canby’s lifelong interest in Indian law. He returned to Minneapolis and practiced law at Oppenheimer, Hodgson, Brown, Baer & Wolf.

In 1962, Judge Canby and his wife, Jane, helped establish the Peace Corps in Africa, serving first in Ethiopia, then as a Director in Uganda. Returning to the United States, he served as Special Assistant to Sen. Walter F. Mondale, then as an assistant to Harris Wofford, President of State University of New York at Old Westbury.

Judge Canby came to Arizona in 1967 as a founding faculty member of ASU’s College of Law, taught the first classes in Indian law, and was instrumental in the creation of the Indian Law Program. He also devoted numerous hours to assisting Arizona farmworkers and other citizens in need of legal help. While at ASU, Judge Canby visited Uganda as a Fulbright Professor of Law at Makerere University (1970–71). In 1999, he returned to Ethiopia in an attempt to facilitate peace during the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was elected as new member of the American Law Institute in 2013.

As both a professor and a jurist, Judge Canby has become known as an expert in American Indian law. He has testified before Congress, and authored law review articles, a major textbook, and Canby’s American Indian Law in a Nutshell, now in its fifth edition. While still a professor at ASU, he successfully argued Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the First Amendment allows lawyers to advertise in a manner that is not misleading to members of the general public.

Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.
W. P. Carey Armstrong Great Hall
Beus Center for Law and Society
111 E. Taylor St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

View Lecture

Past lecturers

2016-17
The Bears Ears National Monument: A Breakthrough for Tribal-Federal Collaboration Management on Federal Public Lands
Charles F. Wilkinson
Distinguished University Professor, Moses Lasky Professor of Law
University of Colorado School of Law

2015-16
The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
Lance G. Morgan
President and CEO, Ho-Chunk Inc.

2014-15
A Modicum of Justice: Incorporating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into Federal Indian Law
G. William "Bill" Rice
Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Native Amreican Law Center, University of Tulsa College of Law

2013-14
Reflections on the Changes in Indian Law and Indian Reservations from 1969 to the Present
Reid Peyton Chambers
Partner, Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP

2012-13
Whose Sovereignty? Tribal Citizenship, Federal Indian Law, and Globalization
Stacy L. Leeds
Dean, University of Arkansas School of Law

2011-12
Tribal National Security: Strategy for the 21st Century
Robert Odawi Porter
President, Seneca Nation of Indians

2010-11
What Makes A Nation?
Herb Yazzie
Chief Justice, Navajo Nation Supreme Court

2009-10
Will the White Man’s Indian Ever Die?
Kevin Gover
Director, Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian

2008-09
Tribal Governance and Individual Rights: the Delicate Balance of Power and Alarm
Diane Enos
President, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

2007-08
Indians, Crime, and the Law: Five Years of Scholarship on Criminal Justice in Indian Country
Kevin K. Washburn
Associate Professor, University of Minnesota