An American legal education begins with a first-year curriculum which is largely uniform across the spectrum of institutions: Contracts, Torts, Constitutional Law, Property, Civil Procedure, and the like are considered the requisite basis for the continued study of law. In the course of learning the basic precepts underpinning these areas of law, first-year law students are exposed not only to the majority rules and those which govern the jurisdictions which contain the law school itself, but also minority rules and important lines of alternative reasoning, because incorporating these alternative analyses is critical to providing future practitioners of the law the proper tools with which to practice. It goes without saying that the value gained from exposure to the minority rules is not insignificant, but this is not the end of the discussion of legal pedagogy and the best way to educate legal thinkers.
In analyzing legal pedagogy, it is important to determine not only the quality of the instruction, but what it is that is being taught. Of equal importance is the converse – an analysis of what is not being taught. The typical legal education does not usually incorporate an understanding of the nature of the law as a narrative, and further, it reinforces the silencing of alternative cultural narratives, or story-based understandings of legal concepts, in favor of the “color-blind” jurisprudence and pedagogy that is only color-blind in that it only sees white (i.e., non-colored) western narratives as viable. This article explores the value of incorporating native narratives into the traditional legal education, in a manner similar to the study of the common law of other jurisdictions for the purpose of learning basic concepts of law.
The article proposes the inclusion of the indigenous narrative in the baseline legal education by including cases from tribal courts in the case method of legal study, and considers this proposal through the lens of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, specifically as illustrated by David Fincher’s film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club.
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