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Civil Rights in Navajo Common Law

Zion, James W
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Kansas Law Review. 50: 523

In this paper, James Zion investigates the question whether there is a law of civil rights in Navajo common law. In the United States, the concept of civil rights is usually associated with the Bill of Rights and similar bills of rights. Some would argue then that indigenous law does not recognize civil rights because indigenous law is pre-state law. Contrary to this position, Zion contends that there are traditional Navajo concepts of civil rights, and that they still exist in contemporary Navaho society and the legal culture of the Navajo Nation. On this basis, Zion defines civil rights in a Navajo cultural and legal context; traces the history of Navajo legal institutions; identifies Navajo norms relating to individual rights; and discusses specific rights within a Navajo perspective. In the process, he reflects on colonialism, post-colonialism, and the Navajo dilemma of changing from a pre-state to a state society.


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