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The Doctrine of Discovery and the Colonial Era

Learn about the Doctrine of Discovery and the treatment of Indians in the colonial era.


I. Introduction

Precolonial American history and European law helped shape the field we broadly refer to as Indian law. Although the term Indian can be considered offensive and outdated, all federal laws use the term Indian to describe Native Americans and indigenous populations in North America. Federal laws also use the term non-Indian to refer to people and businesses that aren’t Native American. Throughout this course, we’ll use the terms Indian and non-Indian.

II. Pre-Columbian Origins of...