Glenn T. Morris
Morris was born in 1955 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where his father was stationed in the U.S Army. He is one of eight children. His father was an enrolled Shawnee Indian from Oklahoma, and his mother’s family was originally from County Tipperary, Ireland, where they were Fenian nationalists. He graduated from East High School in Denver, then from the University of Colorado, and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School, in 1983. While at Harvard, Morris served as president of the Harvard Law School chapter of the American Indian Law Students Association. Also, while at Harvard, Morris was involved with the Third World Coalition, an alliance of students of color that called for the hiring of people of color and European-American women to the law faculty. It was during this time, and through this organizing effort, that much of the Critical Race Theory movement in U.S. law was born. Notable colleagues and classmates of Morris included Kimberlé Crenshaw, now a professor of law at UCLA, Mari Matsuda, professor at the University of Hawaii, Kevin Johnson, dean of UC-Davis Law School, Joe Garcia, Lieutenant Governor of Colorado and S. James Anaya, Professor of Law and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Morris was admitted to the Colorado bar in 1987.
Academic Work and Political Activism
Morris is a tenured professor of political science at the University of Colorado at Denver, where his areas of specialization are indigenous peoples and international law, U.S. constitutional law, and race and gender in U.S. law and policy. In 1994, he was designated a President’s Teaching Scholar, the highest research and teaching award bestowed by the University of Colorado. He also directs the Fourth World Center for the Study of Indigenous Law and Politics, a research and documentation center that has produced The Fourth World Bulletin, and an introductory text and teaching guide on the instruction of law and politics affecting indigenous peoples. He has taught and lectured at a number of colleges, universities and law schools, including the University of Colorado, the University of Denver, Colorado College, Moscow State University (Russia), The University of Arizona, Michigan Tech, and the University of Iowa.
Morris is the author of numerous publications. Two of his most influential writings are, “In Support of the Right of Self-Determination for Indigenous Peoples Under International Law.” 29 German Yearbook of International Law 277-316 (1986); and “Vine Deloria Jr., and the Development of a Decolonizing Critique of Indigenous Peoples and International Relations,” in Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance. Richard Grounds, George Tinker and David Wilkins, eds. Lawrence: U. of Kansas Press (2003). 97-154.
He has served as a delegate and indigenous representative to several international meetings and negotiations. He has been a representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (now the UN Human Rights Council), the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, testifying on issues ranging from the right to self-determination by indigenous peoples to religious freedom violations by the United States against American Indian peoples. Morris contributed to the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007.
In recent years, Morris has been active in indigenous youth leadership training programs, both through the Fourth World Center and through the Emerging Indigenous Leadership Institute, He has maintained a very critical view of U.S. indigenous law and policy, and has expressed ongoing skepticism of the version of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that was passed by the United Nations in 2007.
Morris joined the American Indian Movement (AIM) in 1972, and was first selected to the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado in 1984. He became a close associate of AIM leader Russell Means. Together, they worked on indigenous nations' treaty rights and they led a walkout of indigenous delegates at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in 1996. Morris, Means, and Colorado AIM became widely associated with the national movement to abolish Columbus Day as a state and national holiday, especially in the four-year period leading up to the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in 1992. Morris and Colorado AIM said that it was especially important for indigenous peoples in Colorado to put an end to the holiday because Colorado was the first state in the U.S., in 1907, to designate Columbus Day as an official holiday. Morris, Means and hundreds of others have been arrested on at least four occasions in protesting the Columbus Day holiday and parade. He has also been arrested with Western Shoshone allies defending their treaty territory against nuclear weapons testing in Nevada, and was arrested in Nicaragua during treaty negotiations between the government of Nicaragua and Miskito, Sumo and Rama Indians.
Most recently, Morris and Colorado AIM have joined forces with the Idle No More movement, have protested the Alberta Oil Sands destruction/Keystone XL Pipeline (disrupting a speech by President Obama in Denver in 2012), and protested the racist use of indigenous sport team mascots, especially by the Washington Redskins . In November 2013, Morris’ Fourth World Center and Colorado AIM also hosted the first annual symposium to examine the life and legacy of the late AIM leader Russell Means, who passed away in October 2012.
“Still Lying After All These Years,” Indian Country Today, February 16, 2011. http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/02/16/still-lying-after-all-these-years
Glenn Morris and Russell Means, “Why AIM Opposes Columbus Day and Columbus Day Parades” Denver Post, October 12, 1991, page 7-B. http://www.indigenouspeople.net/russmean.htm
Glenn Morris and Fourth World Center Host Critique of Doctrine of Christian Discovery http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/04/24/doctrine-discovery-another-condemnation-109820
Colorado AIM and Idle No More Confront Anti-Indigenous Racism http://colorado-aim.blogspot.com/2012/12/colorado-aim-members-joined-hundreds-of.html; http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/12/flash_mob_planned_today_at_den.php
http://knowledge.sagepub.com/view/encyclopedia-of-modern-political-thought/n161.i1.xml "Indigenous Political Thought"
- Glenn T. Morris interview from Democracy Now! program
-  American Indian Movement of Colorado
- Glenn T. Morris interview from Democracy Now! program
-  Columbus Day 2007, includes arrest of Russell Means and Glenn Morris