This article reviews and analyzes the judicial canons of construction for Native American treaties and statutes. It discusses their theoretical justifications and practical applications. It concludes that the treaty canon has ready support in contract law and the law of treaty interpretation. Justification of the statutory canon is more challenging and could be strengthened by attention to the democratic deficit when Congress imposes laws on Indian country. Applications of the canons have mattered in disputes between Indian nations and private or state interests. They have made much less difference, and have suffered major failings, in disputes with the federal government. Recent Supreme Court decisions restricting tribal sovereignty show significant weakening of the canons
Richard B. Collins,
Never Construed to Their Prejudice: in Honor of David Getches,
U. Colo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/lawreview/vol84/iss1/2