This Article will first describe, in Part I, the trajectory of Phil‘s
Indian law scholarship, tracking in particular the development of the
major themes just described—the centrality of the structural
relationship between tribes and the federal government, and the
importance of context. In Part II, it will delve into the story of
Oberlin, Kansas, and the Northern Cheyenne Odyssey, drawing lessons for
contemporary Indian law consistent with Phil‘s observations about the
field. Those lessons are, first, that it is key to frame Indian law
disputes as structural questions between sovereigns; and, second, that
academics can provide crucial, rigorous, contextualized research about
the terrain in which these disputes occur.
Finally, in Part III, this Article applies lessons from the Last Indian Raid to a contemporary Indian law issue—the boundaries of tribal control over Indians who are not members of the governing tribe. Telling thicker stories, whether about the Last Indian Raid or this particular Indian law issue, allows us to peek behind the arid judicial formulations of Indian law to see the more complicated and often troubling reality about the life of Indian law. That, at least, is one of the lessons that Phil tried to teach through his scholarship, and it guides this inquiry as it has many others.