Montana v. United States: Pathmarking the Field of Indian Law for Three Decades and Counting

Date(s) of Conference:

March 24-25, 2011


Isleta Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Albuquerque, NM


On March 24, 1981, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Montana v. United States, a case that addressed several important issues concerning tribes’ treaty rights, property interests, and sovereign governing authority on Indian reservations. Despite its modest beginnings as a dispute over who controls access to a highly prized trout fishery on the Big Horn River within the exterior boundaries of the Crow Reservation, Montana since has served as juggernaut for a number of unprecedented changes to core doctrines of federal Indian law, all of them detrimental to tribes. The University of New Mexico School of Law and the UNM Indian Law Program will convene a one-and-a-half day symposium–beginning on Thursday, March 24, 2011, thirty years to the day since the case was decided–to engage law professors, jurists, practicing attorneys, tribal leaders, and Indian law students in a wide-ranging reflection on Montana, including how the litigation originated and unfolded, how the case has impacted Indian law doctrines, and what potential pathways lie ahead for tribes and states in view of Montana’s enormous continuing influence.

Contact Information:

Mitzi Vigil
Indian Law Program Administrator
Telephone: (505) 277-0405


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