Truth and Consequences: Law, Myth and Metaphor in American Indian Contested Adoption

Sargent, Sarah (2017) Truth and Consequences: Law, Myth and Metaphor in American Indian Contested Adoption. Liverpool Law Review, 38 (1). pp. 47-61. ISSN 0144-932X

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This article considers the effects of the operations of myth and metaphor on law through a comparison of a United States Supreme Court decision and a novel that deal with the contested trans-racial adoption of an American Indian child. It argues that the United States founding myth of Manifest Destiny—of the divinely ordained fate of the continent to host a (white) Christian state—is determinative of the way in which legal decisions regarding American Indians are made. The myth of Manifest Destiny contains a metaphor of vanished American Indians, such that contemporary American Indians are rendered nearly invisible and whose existence is not easily absorbed into the working of the American legal system. The American Indian Child Welfare Act provides protections against assimilation for indigenous families and community, thus working at cross-purposes to the ultimate aim of Manifest Destiny. What happens in those instances when legal provisions and interpretation run counter to Manifest Destiny? Through the consideration of the situation of a contested adoption, this article reveals the heavy influence of Manifest Destiny in the Supreme Court decision, which is counter to the vision of a pluralistic culture envisioned in both the novel and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) itself. The consequences of legal resistance to ICWA for American Indian communities and as to the operation of the legal system itself are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Indian Child Welfare Act; Trans-racial adoption; Cherokee Nation; Manifest destiny; Founding myth; Indigenous rights
Subjects: K Law > KF United States Federal Law
Divisions: School of Law
Depositing User: Sarah Sargent
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2017 11:24
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2019 16:12

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