Welcome to Peter d'Errico's Law Page photo of Peter d'Errico

"Law reflects, but in no sense determines the moral worth of a society.... The better the society, the less law there will be. In Heaven, there will be no law, and the lion will lie down with the lamb.... The worse the society, the more law there will be. In Hell, there will be nothing but law, and due process will be meticulously observed."

Grant Gilmore, The Ages of American Law (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), pp. 110-111.

medicine pipe sketch
Original sketch by Black Crow, one of the named plaintiffs in Trapp, et al. v. DuBois, et al., a lawsuit to protect spiritual freedom in prison.

photo of Slow Turtle
Click photo to see larger image.
IN MEMORY OF SLOW TURTLE, Supreme Medicine Man of the Wampanoag Nation, who died October 27, 1997. Slow Turtle was an inspiration for my work and life, as he was for many others around the world.
A poem by Bob Doyle describes the ceremony in which Slow Turtle's ashes were put to sea.

The following links are organized around the autobiographical statement (which I wrote when I was still teaching), with a subset around the syllabi:

Other links:

Book reviews posted on my page at

A series of columns in Indian Country Today analyzing federal Indian 'trust doctrine' and the foundation cases of federal Indian law in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision denying compensation to the Navajo Nation for decades of underpaid coal extraction pursuant to federally approved leases [United States v. Navajo Nation, (2009)]:

"Due process" a prose poem I wrote after a judge denied a prisoner's motion to hold the department of corrections in contempt for denying the terms of a court-ordered agreement to respect American Indian religious freedoms in prison. Indian Country Today "Native Currents," 16 February 2007.

An interview with Charles C. Mann, Author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Indian Country Today, 20 & 25 December 2005: Interview, Part 1; Interview, Part 2. The publication of Mann's book shifts the entire paradigm of 'discovery,' colonization and the history of indigenous peoples in the Americas. Combining research in linguistics, genetics, carbon dating, soil geography and epidemiology with recent findings from anthropology and archaeology, Mann builds an overwhelming critique of conventional stereotypes of the 'new world': he shows that the indigenous population was significantly greater and indigenous societies significantly more complex than the stereotypical views present.

"Corporate Personality and Human Commodification" an essay on the concept of the corporation as a "person," originally appeared in Rethinking MARXISM, Volume 9, Number 2 (Summer 1996/97), pp. 99-113. (The concept that a corporation is a person "consists of and depends on a generalized substitution of juridical persons for real people.")

"Native American Indian Studies - A Note on Names", an explanation of the name chosen by the Five Colleges Faculty Seminar. ("We have to discard both 'American Indian' and 'Native American' if we want to be faithful to reality and true to the principle that a People's name ought to come from themselves.")

"The Law of Baron and Femme: Women, Indians, and Patriarchal Guardianship" an essay on the seminal American "domestic relations" law treatise by Tapping Reeve, founder of the Litchfield (CT) Law School, presented to the Litchfield Historical Society in 1998. ("While Reeve wrote in favor of the transformation of American law away from feudal restrictions regarding women and property, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Johnson v. McIntosh to deprive Native Peoples of property rights on the basis of feudal conceptions of kings and 'heathens.'")

"John Marshall: Indian Lover?" an essay on Johnson v. McIntosh, the first of the Marshall "Indian trilogy," appeared originally in Journal of the West, vol. 39 no. 3 (Summer 2000) ("Marshall's adoption of 'Christian discovery' in Johnson v. McIntosh constitutes one of the most ambitious efforts in legal history to tailor new clothes for an emperor.")

"NativeWeb: Internet as Political Technology" an article about the creation of NativeWeb, for the January 2000 "Lessons from the Web" column at JURIST, The Law Professors' Network

"Native Americans in America: A Theoretical and Historical Overview" reviews the history of Native Americans and the fundamental issues being challenged in order to attain sovereignty, Wicazo Sa Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, Indigenous Resistance and Persistence (Spring, 1999), pp. 7-28, available on JSTOR and from

"American Indian Sovereignty - Now You See It, Now You Don't" inaugural lecture in the American Indian Civics Project at Humboldt State University, Arcata, California (24 October 1997)

Jeffrey Amherst and Smallpox Blankets a selection, reproduction, and analysis of Lord Jeffrey Amherst's letters discussing germ warfare against American Indians

Wampanoag Fishing Rights, a lawsuit to protect Mashpee Wampanoag fishing rights.

Trapp, et al. v. DuBois, et al., a lawsuit to protect spiritual freedom in prison.

"PRISON AT NIGHT: Native Spirituality Behind Bars", an essay written after my first visit to the Native American Spiritual Awareness Council, before deciding to represent them in Trapp, et al. v. DuBois, et al.

Western Shoshone challenge to "federal plenary power", litigation by the Western Shoshone National Council.

"O. J.'s Blood", an essay in response to the trial of O.J. Simpson. ("The trial of O. J. Simpson pinched raw nerves in this society. The pinch became sharpest when the verdict seemed to prove the proposition that money can buy law, even for a black man.")

NativeWeb (Resources for indigenous peoples worldwide)

Indigenous Peoples' Law and Legal Issues, selected resources for teaching about law and legal issues related to indigenous peoples of the world.

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Updated: 19 May 2009