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Law student wins third place in National NALSA Writing Competition

April 24, 2013

Third-year law student Melissa Thaisz received recognition from the 12th Annual National Native American Law Students Association (NNALSA) Writing Competition as the third place awardee for her paper Native Hawaiians and NAGPRA:  Is Federal Recognition the Answer? The purpose of the competition is to recognize excellence in legal research and writing related to Indian law, actively encourage the development of writing skills of NNALSA members, and enhance substantive knowledge in the fields of Federal Indian Law, Tribal Law and traditional forms of governance. The competition is open to matriculated law students at any point in their law school career and regardless of race or tribal membership status. Eligible topics are Federal Indian law and policy, Tribal law and policy, International law and policy concerning indigenous peoples, and Comparative Law (i.e intertribal or government-to-government studies).


Thaisz’s paper focuses on the impact federal recognition may have on Native Hawaiians’ rights under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).  Currently, Native Hawaiians have statutory rights under NAGPRA and receive protection by the State of Hawai‘i under its cultural resource preservation laws.  At issue are innumerable ancestral iwi (bones) buried in unmarked graves throughout the archipelago islands.  Thaisz anticipates receiving a Public Interest Certificate focused in federal Indian law with her JD in May.

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