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Keywords:

  • cultural difference;
  • metapragmatics;
  • indigeneity;
  • Hopi law

In this article, I explore the paradoxes of language, cultural difference, and law in Hopi jurisprudence. In it, I analyze the metapragmatic “talk about courtroom 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. I thus argue for a reconsideration of the usual binaries of indigenous identity—in which claims to cultural distinctiveness are either libratory or reifying, autochthonous or other determined—suggesting that a sharper picture of cultural politics takes these antinomies together as the ironic dialectics constituting the emergent “edge” of indigenous governance today.