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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 2.djvu/185

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THE American student could select few single subjects the survey of which would bring under view a greater variety of important general principles, or a£Ford more scope for forensic reasoning in the application of such principles, than the law relat- ing to Indians. The progress of events has given additional interest at the present day to many of the questions thus pre- sented.

A large part of the Indians in the United States are now upon great reservations between the Mississippi and the Rocky Moun- tains. The advancing tide of Western immigration, before which they have been removed thither, is pressing upon them ; and to the task of keeping these Indians within the boundaries of their reservations — which has long required an army — has been added the task of keeping the white men off the reservations, a task which no army can continuously perform.

The necessity of law for the Indians, for their own protection and welfare, is now obvious. The necessity of it for the protec- tion and welfare of the white population and the peaceful admin- istration of State and Territorial government is equally obvious.

The reader who is inclined either to trace the history of the legal relations of the Indian in this country, or to inform himself of the present status of the Indian before the law in what is known as the Indian country at the West, and the pending modifications of that law, will find it convenient to note that the principles now in operation have been gradually developed by a process which may be conveniently distinguished in three successive but con- trasted periods, which lead up to a fourth period, upon which we are now entering.

For more than a third of a century after the adoption of the present Federal Constitution, and indeed down to the year 1829, our government continued to act under the traditions of the time when white colonists were contending with the red men for pos- session of the continent, and, so far as relations were pacific, dealt with them upon the principles of international law which civilized states usually adopt in dealing with uncivilized states. During