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April 3, 2006

Apr. 14: From the Warrior Viewpoint: The Next Generation of Indian Law

Rennard Strickland
Forty books and forty years of teaching

Law professor Rennard Strickland knows everything about movies and tells wonderful stories. For that alone, he deserves honor and glory.

But that’s not all you need to know about the law professor and former dean. He is a legal historian of Osage and Cherokee heritage who has helped resolve a number of significant Indian law cases.
He pioneered the introduction of Indian law into the mainstream law curriculum.
He is frequently cited for his work in 1982 as the revision editor Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the bible of the field.

He weaves Indian culture and tradition into academic works and rituals in a seamless way. His students have called him the “rock star of federal Indian law.”  And now the rock star intends to retire — this year will be his last as a full-time professor of law. 


Strickland’s friends, colleagues, and fellow Native American activists will honore him at an April 14 CLE symposium, ” From the Warrior Viewpoint: The Next Generation of Indian Law and Policy,” and at a special evening program from 7 P.M. to 9 P.M. in the Wayne Morse Commons of the UO School of Law.

From the Warrior Viewpoint CONFERENCE WEBSITE

The evening gala includes a reading by Strickland from his fortieth book, “Grandfather Was a Good Witch: Growing Up Cherokee,” and tributes by Wilma Mankiller, the first woman chief of the Cherokees, and Chad Smith, current principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Called “Celebrating Forty, “ it will commemorate his entire career, the publication of his fortieth book and his fortieth year of teaching.

Books are the subject of one of Strickland’s many stories. At the beginning of time, he said, Indians were given a choice of weapons, the book or the bow.
After a while, they chose the bow because it protected against enemies and provided food from the hunt. So the white man was left with the book.
Much time and many troubles later, Native peoples realized the power of the book and it became a primary weapon in their arsenal of survival. Indians now talk about their intellectual tools in battlefield terms: the “test-tube warrior,” the “briefcase warrior.”


“In all of these battles,” Strickland said, “ the book is a central weapon. It is a privilege for me to be part of making available this arsenal of ideas.”

Rennard Strickland's desk in the faculty library
More about Rennard Strickland:
The Jaqua Law Library features an exhibit of Rennard Strickland’s life and times, beginning Monday, April 3 through fall, 2006
Strickland worked as one of the editors of the latest (2005) edition of Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law (which also features UO law professor Mary Christina Wood as a contributing author). Editors said there were several important reasons to update the book, including recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions curbing tribal sovereignty, and the dramatic expansion of tribal gaming and commerce in the United States.
Strickland is an expert on the movies — particularly on the portrayal of Native peoples in U.S. film and on legal films. In 2005, he curated an exhibition at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts called “Marquee Massacres”
-Eliza Schmidkunz

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