The 'Act of State' Doctrine
From its beginnings, the United States federal Indian law has been based on the assumed supremacy of American law and government. Similar to Australia, the Supreme Court asserted that it could not examine the act of state by which sovereignty was said to have been acquired over the lands of the Americas. But where else is the justice of such acts to be questioned? Robert A Williams Jnr commented on the role of the courts in the colonisation of Indigenous peoples:
'Legal doctrines... continue to be asserted today to deny respect to the Indian vision and to assert its truths in a world which has not yet learned that freedom is built on my respect for my brother's vision and his respect for mine.'
Keywords: act of state, Federal Court of Australia, Indian, indigenous people, sovereignty, Supreme Court USA, United States of America
'The Algebra of Federal Indian Law: The hard trail of decolonising and Americanising the White man's jurisprudence', 'Wisconsin Law Review', 1986, p 299.
Author: Strelein, Lisa