Native American Law
The University of Idaho College of Law’s Native Law Program consists of four components:
- The academic program that allows for specialization in Native American Law: Native American Law Emphasis (brochure)
Emphasis Tracks (pdf)
- The Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) – the law student organization for those interested in this area of the law and for Native law students. Find NALSA on Facebook.
- Collaboration with Regional Tribal Nations. There are six federally recognized Tribes in Idaho: Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Nez Perce Tribe, Northwestern Band of Shoshone, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, and Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation.
The Native Law Program at the University of Idaho College of Law is focused on providing law students with a foundation in Tribal Law, Federal Indian Law, and the intersection of State Law. The overview course, “Native American Law” provides a broad view of the field and provides law students an introduction into the basics of Tribal civil jurisdiction, criminal jurisdiction, sovereignty, and natural resource management; the basics of Federal Indian law including the foundational cases, federal pre-emption of Indian affairs over state interests, federal delegation of authority to states, and the federal trust doctrine; and the basics of state law impacting Tribes, such as P.L. 280 jurisdiction in Indian country. On a rotating basis, the courses “Native American Natural Resources Law” and “Tribal Nation Economics & Law” are offered.
The University of Idaho College of Law has an on-going commitment to educating law students in the area of Native American Law and encouraging Native Americans to enter into the field of law. Over the past several years, distinguished faculty teaching in this area at the law school include Emeritus Professor of Law Dennis Colson, Associate Professor of Law Doug Nash (Nez Perce Tribe) now with the Seattle University School of Law Institute for Indian Estate Planning and Probate, Former Interim President and former Dean of the College of Law Donald Burnett, Jr., Honorable Steve Aycock the former Chief Judge of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and Professor and James E. Rogers Fellow in American Indian Law, Angelique EagleWoman (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate). In the area of Native Water Law, Professor of Law Barbara Cosens has published extensively and was an organizer for both the Indian Water Rights Settlement Conference and the Winters Centennial Conference. She also has served as a mediator in Indian water rights settlement negotiations. Upon this firm foundation of expertise as exemplified by the individuals who have contributed in the area of Native American Law, the University of Idaho College of Law continues to build.
Native American Law Advisory Board
The University of Idaho College of Law offers a one-of-kind Native Law program to law students. Law students have the opportunity to serve in externships with Idaho Tribes, complete skills training in a Tribal Court CASA program, participate in an annual Native American Law conference, and interact with practitioners in the field through guest lectures in the Native Law courses.
In support of the Native Law program, the Native Law Program Advisory Board was created in the spring of 2014. The Advisory Board includes tribal representatives from the six Idaho Tribes: Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Nez Perce Tribe, the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. The purpose of the Advisory Board is to provide regular communication between the Native Law program director, College of Law representatives, the Native American Student Center Director, and the Idaho area Tribal Nations to strengthen these relationships and continue to provide meaningful legal training experiences for UI law students.
The Academic Emphasis Program in Native American Law requirements:
The University of Idaho College of Law’s Native American Law Emphasis is based on an intense course of study on Native American law topics that is completed during the course of a student’s J.D. program. After completing the first year of law school, interested students may apply for the Native American Law Emphasis. In the second and third years of law school, the Native American Law Emphasis requirements may be met. Upon successful completion of the Emphasis, the law school transcript will denote the Native American Law Emphasis attainment.
The Emphasis requires a minimum of 6 credits completed in the Native American Law curriculum, 6 credits completed in law school courses or graduate courses in a related topic area to Native American Law, (a total of 12 credits through coursework), a substantial research paper in the area of Native American Law meeting the standards of the Upper Division Writing Requirement; and completion of an internship, externship, pro bono hours, clinical experience or other experience involving the application of Native American Law for a total of twenty (20) hours. All aspects of the Emphasis require the pre-approval for each component by the Native American Law Emphasis Advisor.
To earn the Emphasis, students must complete the requirements for four components: A, B, C, and D.
- 6 credits from the Native American Law Curriculum;
- A substantial research paper on a topic approved by the Native American Law Emphasis Advisor of 20-30 pages focused on an area within Native American Law;
- 6 credits from the Law School Curriculum related to the Emphasis as approved by the Native American Law Emphasis Advisor (e.g., Administrative Law, Basic Family Mediation, Critical Legal Studies, Environmental Law, etc.); AND
- Completion of 20 service hours of experience documented and approved by the Native American Law Emphasis Advisor (e.g., externship with a Tribal Nation, Tribal Court, state or federal agency on an issue involving Native American Law, etc.). More information about available Externships that fulfill this requirement.
Upon successful completion of the Emphasis, the law school transcript will note the fulfillment of the Native American Law Emphasis.
- 9 Notable Women Who Rule American Indian Law, Indian Country Today, By Tanya Lee
- Tribal economy gets law school boost, The Coeur d'Alene Press, By Donna Emert
- Angelique EagleWoman - Distinguished in Many Ways, Indian Country Today, By Jack McNeel
- Professor Builds Native Law Program in Idaho, Associated Press, By Jessie Bonner
- University of Idaho Expands Native Offerings, Indian Country Today, By Jack McNeel
Native American Law Events
Providing educational opportunities on the law by and between Tribal, Federal, and State governments.