“He could not speak Hopi…. That puzzle-puzzled me”: The Pragmatic Paradoxes of Hopi Tradition in Court

in Arguing with Tradition

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780226712932
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226712963 | DOI:
“He could not speak Hopi…. That puzzle-puzzled me”: The Pragmatic Paradoxes of Hopi Tradition in Court

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This chapter considers the confrontations of the Hopi Tribe's legal actors through discourses of Hopi tradition and Anglo-American law in a second hearing on property disputes. It focuses on the degree to which they reveal not just conflicts but outright paradoxes and ironies of language, cultural difference, and law in Hopi jurisprudence. It then examines the centrality of paradox to legal semiosis, pragmatics, and the metapragmatic “talk about talk” whereby actors frame court discourse in shifting relations to Hopi cultural distinctiveness and sovereignty, exemplifying how language mediates the cultural politics of Hopi law. The chapter thus argues for a reconsideration of the usual binaries of indigenous identity—where claims to cultural distinctiveness are either libratory or reifying, autochthonous or otherwise determined—suggesting that a more complete picture of cultural politics emerges from taking these antinomies together as the ironic dialectics constituting the emergent edge of indigenous governance today.

Keywords: Hopi Tribe; Hopi tradition; Anglo-American law; paradoxes; language; cultural difference; jurisprudence; sovereignty; cultural politics; property disputes

Chapter.  9484 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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