How Native Tribes Started Winning at the Supreme Court
August 6, 2020
On a September morning in 2001, Native American leaders from across the country convened in a ballroom at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC, to talk strategy. The Supreme Court was escalating a destructive war on tribal sovereignty, weakening the power of Indigenous nations to protect their people and lands. As the meeting opened, Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii took the podium and stunned everyone with the news that two planes had just hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The meeting’s 300 attendees flocked to the lobby to watch live coverage of the attacks.
Less than one hour later, some esteemed tribal leaders called for the meeting to continue as planned. “What’s happened is awful,” lawyer Riyaz Kanji recalls them saying. “But we came here from all around the country to address some big issues. So let’s get to work.”