Arguing with TraditionThe Language of Law in Hopi Tribal Court

Arguing with TraditionThe Language of Law in Hopi Tribal Court

Justin B. Richland

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226712932

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book explores language and interaction within a contemporary Native American legal system. Grounded in extensive field research on the Hopi Tribe of northeastern Arizona—on whose appellate court he now serves as Justice Pro Tempore—this work explains how Hopi notions of tradition and culture shape and are shaped by the processes of Hopi jurisprudence. Like many indigenous legal institutions across North America, the Hopi Tribal Court was created in the image of Anglo-American-style law. However, the book shows that in recent years, Hopi jurists and litigants have called for their courts to develop a jurisprudence that better reflects Hopi culture and traditions. Providing insights into the Hopi and English courtroom interactions through which this conflict plays out, the book argues that tensions between the language of Anglo-style law and Hopi tradition both drive Hopi jurisprudence and make it unique. Ultimately, this analyses of the language of Hopi law offer a fresh approach to the cultural politics that influence indigenous legal and governmental practices worldwide.