Skip to main content

ASU law professor elected to the American Philosophical Society

portrait of ASU law professor Robert James Miller
May 16, 2014

Robert James Miller, a professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, has been elected a member of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States.

Founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin, the society has elected fewer than 5,500 members since its founding and has fewer than 1,000 living members in the fields of science, humanities and the arts.

Miller first became involved with the society in the early 2000s, through his research on Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Jefferson was president of the American Philosophical Society for 20 years, including his time as U.S. President. Meriwether Lewis trained with several members of the society before leading the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Miller who has published numerous articles and books on the international law of colonialism, the Doctrine of Discovery, was asked to speak at the American Philosophical Society in 2007, after his book "Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Manifest Destiny" was published.

The society also invited Miller to advise it regarding its extensive holdings of ethnographic and linguistic Native American materials and he was named chair of the society's Native American Advisory Board.

“I never dreamt I could become a member of the APS,” Miller said about his reaction when he learned of the honor. “I was shocked when I was notified. It is a great honor and I’m humbled to be a member of this significant and historic organization.”

Other notable members of the American Philosophical Society include Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Jimmy Carter, Margaret Mead, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Hawking. The society announced 33 newly elected members last month.

Miller is the chief justice of the Grand Ronde Tribe Court of Appeals. Before joining the College of Law in 2013, he was on the faculty of Lewis and Clark Law School. Prior to his career in academia, he practiced Indian law with Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, and worked for the Stoel Rives law firm. His published works include articles, books, and book chapters on a wide array of federal Indian law issues, and he speaks regularly on Indian law issues across the United States and in other countries.

For more information about the American Philosophical Society, visit