Native Village Youth and Education News
October, 2009


University of Tulsa Native American Law Center




Written by Wesley Mahan

Condensed by Native Village

TULSA, Okla.- The University of Tulsa’s College of Law is one of the top law schools in the country. It’s only natural that the school’s Native American Law Center would be one of the best training grounds for students with an interest in Indian law.

The Native American Law Certificate Program was established in 1990 and became a center in 2000. The Center’s mission is to provide resources for the study and teaching of legal issues concerning Indian tribes and other indigenous people worldwide.

TU was the first law school to offer a certificate program in Indian law. The school offers specialized courses in Federal Indian Law, Tribal Government, Native American Natural Resources Law, Indian Gaming Law, Native American and Indigenous Rights, and the American Indian Law Seminar. “We teach a little bit of everything.  "We teach several courses in federal Indian law – one course in tribal government and one in international indigenous issues. We give them the opportunity to see the full range,” said Professor Judith Royster.

The school also offers several basic law courses that are of interest to Indian law students. Those would include: Employment Law, Environmental Law, Land Use Controls, and Water Law. Students who earn a degree in Native American Law have several career options. “They can do all sorts of things. They can go to work for tribes. They can go to work representing individual Indians in various capacities. They can go to work for the federal and state governments. We have students that have worked for the small business administration, and the Department of the Interior, or the social security administration, where Indian law issues come up. They can go in virtually any direction they like,” said Prof. Royster.

Students who attend law school or hope to practice in this area of the country would be wise to have a background in Indian law. “Some exposure to Indian law, which in Oklahoma is a good thing. If they’re going to practice in this part of the country, they could commit malpractice if they don’t know something about Indian law. You could have a client that’s a member of a tribe or the opposing party’s a member of a tribe. If you don’t know that Indian law works on often different principles you can do a real disservice for your client,” said Prof. Royster.

The program graduates about 10 students a year and around 40-50 students are enrolled in the Indian law courses. However, there is still room for growth. “We always like to expand. We would love to be able to bring in more students. Both from Oklahoma tribes and outside of Oklahoma,” said Prof. Royster.

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