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In 1942 Felix S Cohen published the Handbook of Federal Indian Law the first synthesis of that field At that time Cohen was renowned as a legal philosopher a member of the American legal realist movement and a leading advocate for Native Americans The primary purpose of this Article is to relate Cohens realist jurisprudence to the development of federal Indian law The thesis is that Cohens jurisprudence profoundly affected his writing of the Handbook which in turn profoundly affected the development of contemporary federal Indian law The United States Supreme Court has effectively adopted Cohens realist method for resolving certain issues of federal Indian law The Court has not however adopted his ethical values on those issues Thus although Cohen was a recognized advocate for Native Americans the development of the law suggests that his realist methodology in some respects undermined tribal sovereignty and Native American rights

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