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Noted scholar on Indian rights and prejudices speaks at School of Law

Loyola press release - February 17, 2005

The School of Law and the Biever Guest Lecture Speaker Series bring to campus Robert A. Williams Jr., in a public lecture titled “Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the Legal History of Racism in America” on Monday, March 14, at 12:30 p.m. in Gisevius Moot Court Room 308 in the law school, 526 Pine St.

Robert A. Williams, Jr. is the E. Thomas Sullivan Professor of Law and American Indian Studies and faculty co-chair of the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson. A member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe of North Carolina, Williams was named the first Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School from 2003-2004, and was a visiting professor at Harvard from 1999-2003. He is the author of The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest (1990), which received the Gustavus Meyers Human Rights Center Award as one of the outstanding books published in 1990 on the subject of prejudice in the United States. He also has written Linking Arms Together: American Indian Treaty Visions of Law and Peace, 1600-1800 (1997), and is co-author of the leading casebook in the field, Federal Indian Law: Cases and Materials (5th ed. 2004). Williams received his bachelor’s degree from Loyola College in Baltimore and juris doctor from Harvard in 1980.

“Like a Loaded Weapon” examines the continuing legal force of a well-known and long-established language of racism directed at Indians in American society and culture. Fueled by well-known negative racial stereotypes of Indian savagery, this language, Williams argues, functions “like a loaded weapon” in the Supreme Court’s Indian law decisions. Beginning with Chief Justice John Marshall's seminal opinions on Indian rights in the early 19th century, and continuing today in Rehnquist court's leading Indian- rights decisions, Williams also suggests how racist language of Indian savagery is relied upon by the justices to legalize a uniquely American form of racial dictatorship over Indian tribes by the United States government.