May 13, 2020 INTRODUCTION

The Canary in the Coalmine—The Tragic History of the U.S. Government’s Policies Toward Native Peoples

By Robert O. Saunooke

In 1939, Felix Cohen became chief of the Indian Law Survey, an effort by the federal government to compile the federal laws and treaties regarding the “American Indians.” The resulting book, published in 1941 as The Handbook of Federal Indian Law, became much more than a simple survey. The handbook was the first to show how hundreds of years of diverse treaties, statutes, and decisions formed a comprehensive whole. Today, Cohen is credited with creating the modern field of federal Indian law or, as Roy Cypress, vice chair of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, states, “Federal law as applied to Indians.”

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