Guest Post by Bill Wood: Commentary on the Ninth Circuit (Opinion in Robinson v. Jewell) and Aboriginal Title in California (Revised)

The 1851 Act did not require Indians with aboriginal title rights to go before the commissioners to preserve those rights; it required the commissioners to go out, investigate, and report on Indians’ land rights (which they did not do).”

Turtle Talk

Commentary on the Ninth Circuit (Opinion in Robinson v. Jewell) and Aboriginal Title in California

A few people emailed and texted me about this opinion and suggested I write something about it. So I’ve sketched out below some initial thoughts on certain of the court’s statements concerning the laws applicable to Indian lands and aboriginal title in California generally—which reflect and perpetuate legal and historical misunderstandings that permeate federal Indian law in California—and regarding the history of the Tejon Ranch and the Tejon Reservation (the lands at issue in the case, hereinafter “Tejon” for convenience). I’m not commenting here on the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims or the lawyering (I haven’t read the briefs or the district court’s opinion). And I didn’t intend to write something this long. But I felt like I needed to provide enough detail to support my points (there are some footnotes, mostly citing historical sources…

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