31 Geo. L. J. 1 (1942-1943)
Spanish Origin of Indian Rights in the Law of the United States

handle is hein.journals/glj31 and id is 11 raw text is: THE
GEORGETOWN LAW JOURNAL
VOLUME 31                NOVEMBER        1942               NUMBER i
THE SPANISH ORIGIN OF INDIAN RIGHTS LN THE
LAW OF THE UNITED STATES
FELIX S. COHEN*
I. Fop EwoRD
T    0TRACE the origins of our Federal Indian law is a difficult task.
The law of the United States with respect to Indian tribes is a curious
historical patchwork in which may be found the product of many looms
and many weavers. One may divide this strange patchwork into its
component patches and find nearly four hundred federal treaties with
Indian tribes, about four thousand federal statutes, and an even larger
number of judicial and administrative decisions which, by and large,
attempt to interpret and to apply these treaties and statutes. The fact
that there are Spanish threads in this patchwork is of no greater signifi-
cance than the fact that some of the finest of our old Navajo Indian rugs
contain red threads (bayeta) that were secured by unraveling the red
woolen underwear of Spanish soldiers. What is really important, after
all, about the Spaniards and the Navajo rugs is that the Spaniards (largely
through the intermediary of the Pueblo Indians) introduced into the
country of the Navajos the sheep and the wool of which Navajo rugs
are made, and introduced into the life of the Navajos the ways of the
sheepherder and weaver, which supplanted ways of the raider and hunter.
These were the real Spanish contributions to the Navajo rug.
So it is with our law. We should have a poor idea of the Spanish influ-
ence upon our Federal Indian law if we divided that tapestry and noted
which patches and threads were of Spanish origin. For then we should
lose the pattern and the creative principles of this law, and it is this pat-
tern and these creative principles that are the distinctive contribution of
Spanish juristic thought to our Federal Indian law. This is not merely a
fact of antiquarian interest. It is a fact of some importance to the world
*B.A., 1926, College of the City of New York; M.A., 1927, Ph.D., 1929, Harvard Univer-
sity; LL.B., 1931, Columbia University. Chairman, Board of Appeals, Department of
Interior. Author of: E.mcAL SYsTms AND LEGAL IDEALS (1933); HANDBOox OF FEDERAL.
INDIAN LAW (1942); Transcendental Nonsense and the Functional Approach (1935) 35 COL.
L. REV. 809; The Problems of a Functional Jurisprudence (1937) 1 MODERN LAW REVIEW 5;
The Relativity of Philosophical Systems and the Method of Systematic Relativism (1939)
36 JouRNAL op PnmosoPHY 57; The Social and Economic Consequences of Exclusionary
Immigration Laws (1939) 2 NAT. LAWYERS GumD QuART. 171.

What Is HeinOnline?

With comprehensive coverage of government documents and more than 2,400 journals from inception on hundreds of subjects such as political science, criminal justice, and human rights, HeinOnline is an affordable option for colleges and universities. Documents have the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?