Lewis and Clark legal doctrine program on May 30

The Portage Route Chapter is hosting Robert J. Miller as he presents “The Geopolitical and International Law Objectives of the Lewis and Clark Expedition” at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center on May 30 at 7 p.m.

The program is free to the public.

In his talk, Miller will analyze the international law doctrine of discovery and show how President Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition used that international legal doctrine to create manifest destiny – the idea that the U.S. would sweep across the North American continent.

Miller will address three key points:

  • American colonies, states, and federal government all adopted the international law doctrine of discovery and applied it to the Indian Nations from 1606-2023;
  • Jefferson and Lewis and Clark used that doctrine of discovery to exercise authority over the Indian Nations in the Louisiana Territory and to claim the Pacific Northwest for the U.S.;
  • American manifest destiny arose from the identical elements and policies of the doctrine of discovery.

Miller’s research and book arose from his service from 2003 to 2006 as the representative of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe to the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial.

He has been a professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University since 2013.

Miller was elected to the American Law Institute in 2012 and to the American Philosophical Society in 2014 (which elected only 5,506 members from 1743-2014).

Miller graduated in 1991 from Lewis and Clark Law School and then clerked for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

He served as a full-time professor at Lewis and Clark Law School from 1999-2013.

Miller is the Chief Justice for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Court of Appeals and an appellate judge for other tribes.

The May 30 program is part of the monthly Ida Johnson Lecture Series and is also available online through a Zoom link, by contacting Lee Ebeling at leeebeling@gmail.com. The Portage Route Chapter is affiliated with the nation-wide Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, which also has its headquarters in Great Falls.