Rebecca Tsosie


In this essay, Professor Tsosie documents two important aspects of David Getches's work in the field of federal Indian law. First, Professor Tsosie observes that David Getches was a strong proponent of guiding principles and a consistent structure in the law. Consequently, he was one of the first scholars to observe the ways in which the contemporary Supreme Court was "remapping" the field of federal Indian law, apparently in service of the Court's commitment to states' rights and the protection of mainstream values. David noted the dangers of this "subjectivist" approach and urged a return to the foundational principles of federal Indian law, which recognize the historic political relationship between Indian nations and the United States and the continuing sovereignty of Indian nations. Secondly, David Getches had a great deal of love for the lands and peoples of the West, including the landscape of the Colorado Plateau, which inspired Professor Tsosie's remarks at the Symposium. David understood the relationship between indigenous peoples and the land as encompassing an "ethics of permanence," and he believed that traditional indigenous * land ethics could provide the necessary counterweight to the dominant society's exploitive "ethic of opportunity" and foster a more sustainable framework for the management of public lands. In these ways, David's federal Indian law scholarship offered "a philosophy of hope and a landscape of principle," and both features mark his important and enduring legacy in the field.