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Archibald Cox '34, Williston Professor of Law, has joined the legal team representing the Maine Indians suing that state for two-thirds of its land. He will also play a role in other Indian claims being pressed by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF).
Cox, who gained a national reputation as the first Watergate special prosecutor, will "serve in a senior consulting capacity" to the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes, Thomas Tureen, the NARF attorney coordinating the Maine Indians' legal team, said yesterday. Cox's duties will include all litigation and dealings with the federal government and the state of Maine, Tureen added.
Tureen said Cox was the first lawyer NARF approached for assistance, although many others have volunteered their services.
"One of the things that motivated us [to choose Cox] was the suggestion by the Maine attorney general that Congress legislate the Indian claims out of existence or alter the rules under which the case would be tried, so we felt Professor Cox would be the best person to avert that kind of attack on the claim," Tureen said.
Barry Margolin '70, a NARF lawyer involved with various Indian land claims in New England, said yesterday the legal roles Cox has played in the past "made him well qualified to speak out for the maintenance and integrity of the legal process and its ability to provide justice for groups like our clients."
While Cox will deal primarily with the claims of the two Maine tribes, he met last weekend at the Justice Department with lawyers pressing similar suits on behalf of other Indian tribes.
"So far as the suits are similar the course followed in each will have to be coordinated with the course followed in the others," Cox said yesterday.
Cox would not predict yesterday whether or not he will represent the tribes in court.
In a earlier federal suit NARF's attorneys established that the Non-Intercourse Act of 1790 protects valid Indian land claims and that the U.S. government must protect the Indians while acting as a trustee of their lands. The U.S. District Court in Maine then appointed the Justice Department to represent the Indians in their litigation against the various states.
Last month, the U.S. Interior Department recommended that the 350,000 current inhabitants of the northern two-thirds of Maine be evicted to make way for the Indians, and that $300,000 million of back rent be awarded to the tribes for use of their land since 1790.
Cox owns a summer home, pasture and woodlands at Penobscot Bay, on the fringe of the Indian claims he is pressing.
"I pointed out to them that technically this represents a conflict of interest but as long as a client understands this ahead of time there is no problem," Cox said yesterday.
If the Indians win, "I guess I'll be in the same fix as everyone else," Cox added
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