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Indian Law Program


The law school's continued commitment to Indian law has led to the creation of several programs, including the intensive Indian Law Summer Program, the Clinical Internship Seminar in Indian Law, the Tribal Clerkship Pro Bono Honors Program, and the Annual Indian Law Working Papers Roundtable. With one of the most extensive Indian law curricula in the country, we offer a wide array of courses and the potential for a careful focus on Indian law. In addition to the courses outlined below, we also offer several advanced Indian law courses taught each summer by leading scholars from across the country.

Advanced Federal Indian Law*

In-depth study of current issues in Indian law, which may include tribal sovereignty, tribal court jurisdiction, reservation economic development and environmental regulation, cultural resources protection, and tribal rights in natural resources and endangered species. This class explores the way history, legislation, and litigation have influenced the development of Indian law and policy.

Alaska Natives & the Law

This two-credit two-week intensive course is designed to strengthen student understanding of Alaska Native law and the cultural and historical backdrop of its application in rural Alaska.  With 229 tribal governments, a multitude of Regional and Village Corporations formed pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), and a myriad of Native non-profit corporations, Alaska Natives are a powerful economic, political, and legal force.  Alaska Native values and practices regarding the traditional subsistence way of life help inform the culture of all Alaskans and are at the center of cutting edge litigation and international treaties surrounding traditional harvest of wildlife.

Contemporary Issues in Indian Law*

Current issues, with a focus on recent as well as future cases, relating to jurisdictional conflicts in Indian country, the implementation of the trust relationship and the implementation of federal legislation such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act, implementation of treaty rights, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Criminal Law in Indian Country

This course Criminal Law in Indian Country is designed to reflect upon crime and
punishment in Indian Country, and the embedded story within the shared
“criminal” history of tribal nations.

Cultural Resources Protection Law* 

Exploration of several federal statutes, including National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Not limited to Indian cultural issues, this seminar covers a wide range of preservation issues and examines the extent to which courts and legislatures have helped and hindered the protection of cultural resources. Students examine the policy decisions behind legislation and the efficiency of various approaches to cultural resource protection.

Economic Development in Indian Country*

An examination of issues regarding economic activity in Indian country, including gaming, asset-extractive activities such as logging and mining, job creation through manufacturing and attraction of business investment to reservations, and the creation of functioning reservation economies by tribal governments. The history of tribal entrepreneurial activities and a focus on the legal, sovereign, judicial, regulatory, and funding challenges that tribal governments face in bringing beneficial economic growth to Indian country. Course evaluation will be by a two-hour exam or through a paper at the student's option. Prerequisite: Completion of or current enrollment in Federal Indian Law.

Federal Indian Law

The development of federal Indian law from the late 19th century to the present. Emphasis given to unique principles of law concerning tribal sovereignty, the federal trust relationship, hunting, fishing, and water rights, and the interplay between tribal, state, and federal criminal and civil jurisdiction. Special attention to federal statutes that pertain specifically to Native Americans. These statutes and the above principles of law are discussed in the context of self-determination.

Federalism and Indian Law*

Exploration of the philosophy of Indian law, including a close examination of the underlying legal and historical precedents in the United States and Canada, and discussion and analysis of future directions in this dynamic field.

Indian Gaming

Indian gaming concerns the federal, tribal and state law regarding the development of gaming and related enterprises in Indian country. This course will survey the historical background behind Indian gaming and further examine the modern legal system governing the operation and regulation of Indian gaming activities.

General topics to be covered include the jurisdictional precepts to gaming in Indian country, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, tribal-state compacts, and regulatory oversight schemes of Indian gaming activities. Emerging issues also will be reviewed, such as taking land into trust for gaming purposes and diversification of tribal gaming. In addition, coursework will include review of financing documents, contracts involved in the operation gaming enterprise, and tribal legal and judicial systems that support tribes’ economic endeavors.

International Law & American Indians 

Europeans used international law in North America from the beginning of their explorations and settlements on this continent. They used the Doctrine of Discovery to claim for themselves many of the sovereign, diplomatic, commercial and human rights of native peoples.  Class Times: 2:00pm - 5:10pm

NALSA Moot Court

During the fall, students research a problem in a specific area of Indian law. Students prepare appellate briefs and participate in oral arguments based on the problem. Students from the fall class are selected to represent the school in the national NALSA moot court competition held in the spring.

Native Natural Resources Law*

Survey of natural resources law, including water, timber, mining, fish, and wildlife. Resource protection and development in the context of treaty rights and conflicting sovereignty. Special attention is given to the regulatory powers of the federal government and tribal governments, as well as to the competing interests of federal, state, and tribal entities. Students gain an enhanced understanding of the legal positions of tribes intent on asserting and preserving treaty obligations.

Themes in Sovereignty

Focus on specific topics that support tribal self-governance, including federalism and Indian law, economic development and taxation in Indian country, criminal law enforcement in Indian country, state and tribal relations, and environmental regulation in Indian country.

* Courses not offered summer 2010