Graduation Date

Spring 2022

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Social Science, Environment and Community

Committee Chair Name

Marlon Sherman

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

J. Mark Baker

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Joseph Diémé

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environment and Community


Using hermeneutical methodology, this paper examines some of the legal fictions that form the foundation of Federal Indian Law. The text of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1823 Johnson v. M’Intosh opinion is evaluated through the lens of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to determine the extent to which the Supreme Court incorporated genocidal principles into United States common law. The genealogy of M’Intosh is examined to identify influences that are not fully apparent on the face of the case. International jurisprudential interpretations of the legal definition of genocide are summarized and used as a basis for constructing an analytical framework. The framework is then applied to the reasoning in the M’Intosh case to evaluate the extent to which principles of Christian Discovery shaped the M’Intosh Court’s reasoning and, by extension, are the basis of dispossessing Native peoples of their lands, autonomy, and lives.

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