Northern Marianas College associate professors William Fife and Beylul Solomon will be presenting their recent University of Southern California (USC) law journal publication, “Indigenous Rights: A Pathway to End American Second-Class Citizenship” at the upcoming Marianas History Conference, September 1-3, 2023, in Saipan.
Registration information for the event can be found on https://www.uog.edu/mhc2023/index.php. The first 50 students from the CNMI register for free.
The 6th Marianas History Conference theme is “Healing the Wounds of History”. The conference was last held in 2021, with over 600 participants representing 12 countries.
At the conference, Fife and Solomon will discuss how over 500 years of global genocidal colonialism was Vatican-authorized through the active international law known as the “Doctrine of Discovery”, which continues to oppress Indigenous peoples in America through what they refer to as the “Discovery Cases”.
Fife and Solomon coined the novel concept of the “Discovery Cases” – a collective group of racist Supreme Court of the United States rulings that incorporate the Doctrine of Discovery into active American case law, beginning with 1823’s Johnson v. M’Intosh and its progeny – which include the “Insular Cases”. The “Discovery Cases” continue to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their sacred lands, and enshrine second-class citizenship for Americans residing in US territories.
Fife and Solomon propose implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) through local and national legislation, which could provide a pathway to overturn the “Discovery Cases” and enable greater self-determination in US territories, thereby ending American second-class citizenship and ensuring the cultural survival of Indigenous peoples.
Fife and Solomon collaborated on two publications that utilize Indigenous rights to address “healing the wounds of history” in the Marianas. “Indigenous Rights: A Pathway to End American Second-Class Citizenship” covers regional, national, and international legal and political issues in USC’s Review of Law and Social Justice (RLSJ). Their first collaboration, “Indigenous Rights: A Vehicle to Address Mental Health and Academic Outcomes in the CNMI”, discussed how to improve local disparities in the textbook, “Learning and Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education in Oceania”. Both publications focus on the importance of cultural identity to heal the ongoing legacies of systemic racism and intergenerational trauma.
Solomon won the Northern Marianas Humanities Council 2022 Governor’s Award for Research and Publication as lead author of “Indigenous Rights: A Vehicle to Address Mental Health and Academic Outcomes in the CNMI”. Professor Fife presented “Indigenous Rights: A Pathway to End American Second-Class Citizenship” at a recent USC law school symposium, and the article was also featured in “Race, Racism, and the Law”, which is hosted by Dayton University of Law Professor Emerita Vernellia R. Randall.
Fife received his J.D. in 2013. He worked as a legal aid attorney with Micronesian Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) and as a teacher at Kagman High School before joining NMC as an Associate Professor in the Social Sciences and Fine Arts Department. Professor Solomon received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 2009 and is currently an Associate Professor at NMC’s School of Education.