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Cohen, Felix (1907–1953)

Felix Solomon Cohen was an American lawyer, philosopher, writer, educator, and civil rights activist. He was also one the most significant thinkers in the development of modern Native American law and policy. Cohen was the intellectual leader of a circle of New Deal–era Indian advocates, which included John Collier (1884–1968).

Cohen is widely known as “the Blackstone of American Indian law.” He brought organization and conceptual clarity to the field. It was clear in the early years of the New Deal, after 1933, with more than a century and a half of national governmental interaction with Indians, that no one yet had synthesized federal Indian law. Lawyers, judges, and legislators perceived Indian law as a mass of loosely connected rules rooted in more than 4,000 ...

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