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Maggie Blackhawk, Law, New York University School of Law

  • When: October 27, 2021, 12–1:30 pm
  • Where: Zoom: To register, contact Sophie Kofman at

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America’s Other Original Sin: Indians and the Constitution in the Shadow of Empire

You can find the book proposal for “America's Other Original Sin: Indians and the Constitution in the Shadow of Empire” here.

Photo and bio courtesy of University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

Maggie Blackhawk (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe) researches and teaches in the fields of constitutional law, federal Indian law, and legislation.  Her recent projects examine the ways that American democracy can and should empower minorities, especially outside of traditional rights and courts-based frameworks.  She is particularly interested in those formal legal institutions that empower minorities to govern and engage in lawmaking—petitioning, lobbying, distributed sovereignty, &c.—and how those institutions might be harnessed to better mitigate constitutional failures, like colonialism and slavery.  Blackhawk was awarded the American Society for Legal History's William Nelson Cromwell Article Prize and her research has been published or is forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and Cambridge University Press.  She also writes about her research for general audiences, most recently in the New York Times. Her empirical projects have been supported by the American Political Science Association, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, among others.  

Her most recent Article, Federal Indian Law as Paradigm within Public Law, published in May in the Harvard Law Review argues that scholars of public law need to recognize the centrality of Native Nations, Native peoples, and American colonialism in order to better understand constitutional law and constitutional history.  The Article aims to bring the study of American colonialism and Native peoples to the fore in broader discussions of American public law and it will hopefully serve as a call to scholars of public law to incorporate Native America into their fields of inquiry.  

Along with Laura Edwards (Duke, History) and Naomi Lamoreaux (Yale, History & Economics), she is leading a multi-year project for the Tobin Project’s Institutions of Democracy Initiative on Rethinking the History of American Democracy.  She also serves as President of the AALS section on Legislation and Law of the Political Process and as Senior Constitutional Advisor to the President of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. 

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