Announcing Fletcher Commentaries on “The New Trail of Tears”

Written by: Matthew Fletcher

Primary Source : Turtle Talk, September 6, 2016


Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be reviewing and commenting on a new book by Naomi Schaefer Riley, “The New Trail of Tears: How Washington is Destroying American Indians.” (link to Peter D’Errico’s review here). DO NOT READ THIS BOOK if you are a supporter of tribal interests and the future of Indian people, unless you’re interested in learning about a game plan to send 21st century Indian people on a new trail of tears. Because, to be blunt, that’s what this book is about.

There are five chapters, plus an introduction and a conclusion. I’ll have a short post on the introduction chapter later today, and will try to follow up on each chapter every other day or so.

This book focuses on a small number of Indian nations around the country — Crow Nation, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Seneca Nation of Indians, Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The author has found a lot of extremely negative things to say about these tribes in particular, and implicitly is generalizing about all of Indian country when she does. If you’re a tribal member from these communities, or work with or for these communities, I’d love to hear your perspective (either on my commentaries or on the book itself). I know fairly little about these tribes (although I did work for the Seneca Nation appellate court from afar for a few years), and won’t have much to say about the details in the book. Feed me.

Additionally, I call upon anyone interviewed by Ms. Schaefer Riley to comment. I’m absolutely positive at least one of her interview subjects won’t be happy about how they are quoted or characterized. I know from personal experience how journalists can, even in good faith, misquote.


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Matthew Fletcher
Matthew L.M. Fletcher is Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He is the Chief Justice of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Supreme Court and also sits as an appellate judge for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians. He is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, located in Peshawbestown, Michigan. In 2010, Professor Fletcher was elected to the American Law Institute.