Freedom to Be: Some Restrictions Apply

Humanities Seminars Course

Freedom to Be: Some Restrictions Apply

Research Professor of Law Melissa Tatum James E. Rogers College of Law
Past Course
THURSDAYS 9:00 am to 12:00 pm May 4 - May 25, 2017
Dorothy Rubel Room



The United States was founded on broad principles of individual freedom – declarations of the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” were central to the American Revolution and the subsequent foundations of the new country. Looking back, we know that those rights were meant at the time for white land-owning men, and it was only after two centuries of discrimination that formal actions were taken to eliminate institutional racism and gender discrimination from U.S. law.

This dismantling of institutional racism did not, however, encompass all Americans. Today, American Indians and Alaska Natives are under tremendous regulation and government oversight, regulations that do not apply to other groups within the United States. Each week of the class will focus on a different aspect of these regulations, with a particular focus on family and children, religion and culture, and control over various forms of property.


Required Reading: 

Your instructor will be preparing an electronic course packet which will contain the readings for the course. The course packet will contain a few required readings, some optional readings for each day, and recommendations for further reading on each topic.

MELISSA TATUM is a professor at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, where she specializes in Indian law and tribal government. She has spent more than two decades working in Indian country, and most of her work involves the structure and relationship of government systems. Those interests fueled her two most recent books (both of which were coauthored) Structuring Sovereignty: Constitutions of Native Nations and Law, Culture & Environment.


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