Talk:Narragansett land claim

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Former good article nominee Narragansett land claim was a Social sciences and society good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
June 6, 2012 Good article nominee Not listed
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Comments on article[edit]


I think this article is very interesting, (in fact this whole topic, which I'd never really thought much about before) but I'm not a legal person. I'm wondering if some of the terminology couldn't be put in lay terms, even though you have them linked. I'm fairly sophisticated about the law for a lay person, but I'm not willing to click all the links and try to retain the information as I proceed through the article. I'm hoping you understand what I'm meaning here. That is, that the article should be aimed at the general reader and not written for attorneys only.

This is what's preventing me from reviewing it as a GA. I have great respect for your writing.

Best wishes, MathewTownsend (talk) 02:36, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Could you please be more specific about the terminology which troubles you? If it can be changed without losing meaning, I will do so; otherwise, I will try to explain it in the article as much as can be done without distracting from the topic at hand. Savidan 02:37, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • For example, I changed "conveyances" to the more accessible "land transfers". That seemed to be ok with you, right? I looked at "affirmative defenses and other defenses" and toyed with just using "defenses" as less dense but retaining the general meaning.
  • "denied the state's necessary party motion and motion to dismiss." - I think most people know what a motion to dismiss is. But to understand a "necessary party motion", I would have to read what a "necessary party" is (I think I know) and figure out how the state was using "necessary party" in a motion in this particular case. I could probably do that fairly easily, if it isn't too involved, but am I willing to go through the article reading every link and then figure out how the term is being used legally in this particular case? Especially since I don't have a particularly legal mind.
  • Is there a way to explain what is happening in plain terms especially in the lede where you want to give the general overall picture? Or else, yes, explain what the terms mean. Law is like a separate language, like math, and if general readers aren't unfamiliar, then they are shut out from learning about this interesting issue of the history of Native Americans and their lands vs the states and federal government. (For example, we've all heard about the casinos, but we don't know the route to their coming into existence.) MathewTownsend (talk) 19:10, 24 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Land transfers is fine, I suppose. I'm not interested in defining "necessary party" in the intro, but I have added more in the body. As for a general overall pictures, I thought I did that. Savidan 03:03, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

Sourcing and OR[edit]

There are some sourcing and OR problems that I am finding - this is very common in articles dealing with court cases. Court documents are primary sources and hence should be used with the utmost care, if at all - this article relies exclusively on court documents it seems. The one non court document reference Vecsey & Starna 1988 is not used even once (which also makes me suspect probably copyvio problems since if the source has indeed been consulted it should figure as a citation in the text). Definitely it is always to be considered OR to make any kind of evaluation or conclusion of primary sources that is not also sourced to secondary sources. The article does this in a number of places - for example when it states that Narragansett II is called into question by the Coeur d"Alene vs Idaho case referring to the court document of that case. This is clear OR and such a statement cannot be made unless a reliable secondary source interprets the Coeur D'Alene case as doing such. Furthermore the source is a link to the wikipedia article on the Coeur D'Alene case - which is not to be considered a source at all. I will be looking over the article with an eye to such problems - but basically I would consider these problems a reason for quickfailing the article if I were reviewing it.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 16:49, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

It is not original research to cite a published legal opinion. To do so neither states a claim "for which no reliable, published sources exist" nor "serves to advance a position not advanced by the sources" (see WP:NOR). Secondary sources are needed for analysis and commentary, but not for the facts and holding of a case. The citation you mention is to the Supreme Court's decision in Coeur D'Alene, not the Wikipedia article. Nor is there any copyright violation here. No text has been copied from V&S without attribution. Copyright law does not yield the absurd proposition that: "if you look at a source, you must include multiple in-line footnotes to it." Savidan 08:23, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
No but it is original research to mak any evaluation or interpretation of that legal opinion. Does the Coeur d'Alene case make any mention on its possible bearings on the Narragansett II case - that is hard for me to believe. That means that it is an valuation of the document to say that it has any bearings on that case. No merely looking of cours does not require sourcing - but it is hard to believe that you have not used the source as background for the article. It is probably not copyvio, that was an exaggeration I admit, but if it follows the V&S source without direct attribution it is plagiarism and wuld for example get you in trouble in an acadmic essay. In anycase it is quite clear that wikipedia articles should rely mostly on secondary and tertiary sources and not on primary sources - this article currently has no references to secondary sources at all. That is not what we expect from a Good Article.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 16:18, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
Please cease assuming bad faith. I used it for the one thing that is footnoted, and included it accordingly. It is entirely improper to accuse others of copyright violations and plagiarism with no foundation at all. As for additional secondary sources, if you can suggest any secondary sources that I am missing, I will add them. Savidan 16:28, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
I am sorry if I came across as assuming bad faith - I am not - iI am quite convinced that you are editing in good faith and that any possible plagiarism issues would be unintentional (which I admit i have no evidence for - but the lack of secondary sources are suggestive). I cannot suggest any secondary sources - because this is not a topic I am very familiar with. I know where I would look to find them (for example in the references of S&V 1988). But if anything the lack of secondary sources simply suggest that this is not a suitable topic for a detailed article. If I were reviewing this article (I came here with that in mind) I would not promote it untill it relied at least as much on secondary souces as on primary ones. ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 16:38, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
By the way notice that the OR policy quite clearly states "do not base articles entirely on primary sources". This is a basic policy that the article of course needs to follow if evaluated for GA.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 21:34, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
First, published opinions are not primary sources within the meaning of that policy. The example given is an "account of a traffic accident written by a witness." That sounds more like the transcript of a trial (or a brief submitted by a party), than the opinion of the court. If both the judge and the New York Times reporter watch the witness testify, there is no reason why Wikipedia should permit the latter's account but not the former's. Second, that policy does not prohibit the use of primary sources, only interpretive claims based on primary sources. This article uses indisputably secondary/tertiary sources when it makes interpretive claims; for example, that the case was the "first of the eastern land claims to be settled." Savidan 02:06, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
Nonsense, court opinions are official documents expressing the court's opinion, and not secondary sources about what happens in a court. A NYT article would be a secondary source- the opinion is not - because it includes evaluation of the events whereas the court opinions is basically an act of law - not a description of an event. Policy cearly prohibits articles based entirely on primary sources and states that use of primary sources must be sparing. Primary sources does for example not establish notability - only secondary sources does this. And thirdly the article does make interretive claims based on primary sources and therfore engages in OR. This is definitely an interesting and important article - but it does not live up to the GA standard.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 04:26, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Narragansett land claim/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Cryptic C62 (talk · contribs) 01:04, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

  • "Oneida Indian Nation of New York v. County of Oneida (Oneida I) (1974) decision" I don't understand why there are two parenthetical comments after the name of the case.
  • "The Narragansett claim was "the first of the eastern land claims to be settled."" I am of the opinion that in an article like this, short quotations should be used in one of two circumstances: First, it is difficult or impossible to rephrase without losing meaning, and a quotation is the only way to avoid plagiarism. Second, to present language that is archaic or colorful. This quote is neither.
    • I am unaware of the unwritten rule on quotations, so I don't agree. Oakley77 (talk) 20:17, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
      • Perhaps my phrasing was a bit too strong. What I meant was that, in general, any short phrase in quotation marks should have some concrete reason for being in quotation marks. If no such reason exists, the quote should be paraphrased instead. The two reasons I gave above are the only ones that I could think of that would apply for an article like this, but there could certainly be other justifications. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 14:35, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
        • In my view, superlative claims (or, if you don't view "first" as a superlative, claims like first and last) provide such a justification. It is important exactly how the cited source phrased the superlative claim. Although I personally understand the inclusion criteria that are the basis of this claim, the best way to avoid original research or mis-citation in this area is quotation. Savidan 03:54, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
  • The lead does not summarize any material from the Further developments section. It should.
  • I'm very confused about the subheading In re Narragansett Indians (R.I. 1898). The vast majority of the Background section falls under the subheading. If all of the material is relevant to In re Narragansett Indians (R.I. 1898), than that subheading should be eliminated and the main heading should be In re Narragansett Indians (R.I. 1898) or Background. If it is not the case that all of the material is relevant to In re Narragansett Indians (R.I. 1898), then there should be additional subheadings to separate the information.
    • Added two new sub-headers. Oakley77 (talk) 20:17, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
  • "Only out of a desire to avoid conflicts with neighboring colonies, the court proceeds, did Williams obtain a royal charter for Rhode Island in 1643 or 1644." I don't understand this sentence.
    • I do understand, as do presumably most readers. Oakley77 (talk) 20:17, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
      • Ah, I decoded its meaning after reading it the ninth time. The present tense "proceeds" is what confused me.
  • The color code for File:Charlestown RI lg.PNG needs to be explained, either in the image itself or the caption.
    • Added new caption. Oakley77 (talk) 20:19, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
  • File:Ninigret.jpg needs a more descriptive caption.
    • It appears to have been given one. Savidan 04:11, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
  • I believe that Motion to dismiss and Further developments can and should be expanded.
    • Could you please be more specific about the sources you would like to see used for this expansion? Or, failing that, at least more specific about the facts you would like to see even if you do not know to where they can be cited? Savidan 03:56, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
      • Motion to dismiss should answer the questions of "why?" that the lay reader will inevitably have. Why did the defendants think that this was a nonjusticiable political question, and why did the court disagree? In Further developments, how did the Narragansett gain federal recognition? How and when have the Naragansett attempted to establish a Native American gaming enterprise?
  • "The Narragansett have so far been unsuccessful in their efforts to establish a Native American gaming enterprise." This should include a time reference (probably just the year that the source was written), per WP:ASOF.
    • Fine. Savidan 17:24, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
  • The teeny weeny paragraphs at the end of Rhode Island Claims Settlement Act should be expanded, merged, or deleted.
    • Created one new paragraph, merged both little ones into first one. Oakley77 (talk) 20:21, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Why does the body of the article mix present and past tense? "What follows was a 40 year struggle between Rhode Island and Connecticut..." is a particularly bad example. I don't know what the conventions are in legal writing, but for an encyclopedia article this should all be in the past tense.
    • I have fixed the example given. Savidan 03:59, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
      • And the rest of the article? I'm still seeing instances of "the court claims" and "the opinion reviews". The material should be written entirely in the past tense unless there is substantial justification to indicate otherwise. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 12:50, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
        • When describing a judicial opinion (as with, for example, the plot of a novel) the present tense is permitted if not preferred. Savidan 17:16, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
          • Got a policy/guideline page which says that? --Cryptic C62 · Talk 14:38, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
  • The references in this article should not use smallcaps as advised by the manual of style.
    • The smallcaps follow from The Bluebook citation style. The MOS does not dictate the use of any given citation style and in fact dictates pluralism between citation styles (e.g. the citation style chosen by the first major contributor should prevail). I do not understand the smallcaps rule to trump this. Savidan 03:59, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
      • WP:ALLCAPS says: "Reduce newspaper headlines and other titles from all caps to sentence case or title case." That seems to be pretty definitive statement on the matter. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 12:50, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
        • I read that as referring to the title of an article (i.e. "OBAMA WINS ELECTION"). And to all caps, not small caps. Regardless it does not displace WP:CITE. "Wikipedia does not have a single house style, though citations within any given article should follow a consistent style." "Editors should not attempt to change an article's established citation style merely on the grounds of personal preference, or without first seeking consensus for the change. If the article you are editing is already using a particular citation style, you should follow it." "if there is disagreement about which style is best, defer to the style used by the first major contributor." Savidan 17:20, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
          • WP:CITE also indicates that citation styles should be consistent within a given article. Here I'm seeing some authors in small caps, some in standard case, and some journals in small caps, and some in standard case. This makes me feel very sad. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 14:38, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
  • In the footnotes, the average reader will have no idea what "40 A. at 373." means. I suggest giving the full citations in the References section, just as you've done with Jarboe and Vecsey & Starna. These should also have hyperlinks to assist with verification.
    • It is a case citation. In other words, a citation to the Rhode Island Supreme Court's opinion in In re Narragansett Indians. I do not believe it would be useful or consistent with the citation style used to move cases to the reference section, which is currently reserved for scholarly sources. As for hyperlinks, I oppose these as well (at least in footnotes). There is no ban on offline sources or a requirement that a reference contain an external link. A state court decision from the 19th century is almost certain not to be available online. Even though some sites do post the text federal decisions, they have their own problems. I am not in a position to verify their accuracy and neither is Wikipedia. They are chock-full of ads and may change their urls constantly. The source cited in the written decision of the court in the case reporter, not the version of it on some unofficial site. Savidan 04:11, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

The article is not quite at GA status yet, but the issues are quite fixable. I'll put the article on hold for a week to allow for that to happen. Once those issues have been settled, I'll run through the prose again to check for clarity. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 03:31, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

  • I still see an extreme over reliance on primary sources. SImultaneously the article hardly uses any of the scholarly works that are written about the Narragansett and their history andf the land claims of the east coast such as [1][2][3][4][5][6][7] just to name a few. I keep having serious OR concerns regarding this article. To be sure - it is a fine article - but it is essentially a piece of original research based on close readings of the court documents. ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 13:35, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
    • Thanks for bringing this up, Maunus. I don't know that I would describe this article as being original research, but it is certainly not a thorough summary of the literature, which compounds the issue of comprehensiveness I mentioned earlier. Clearly, there is still a significant amount of work to be done on this article; I am closing the GA review. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 23:57, 6 June 2012 (UTC)