Indian Law Program renamed Native American Law and Sovereignty Institute – News and Events



Mitchell Hamline’s Indian Law program will now be known as the Native American Law and Sovereignty Institute.

Commitment to this area of ​​law has deep roots in the two schools inherited from Mitchell Hamline, with co-director Colette Routel being the program’s oldest steward since its launch in 2009. The change helps to underscore the importance of sovereignty in the world. within Native Americans. right, according to co-director Angelique EagleWoman. “Tribal nations have ruled in this region and across the country from time immemorial. Our institute focuses on the sovereign-to-sovereign relationships of tribal governments in alliances and with the US federal government.

As one of less than 20 Indian law programs at law schools nationwide, the Mitchell Hamline Institute focuses on students and hands-on legal education. The program includes two clinic options – one on impact litigation and another on writing tribal codes.

After two years as a visiting professor at Mitchell Hamline, EagleWoman this year became a full professor. A citizen of Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, she was the first dean of an Indigenous law school in Canada, served as a tribal judge and co-authored an Indian law textbook called Mastering American Indian Law. “As the only female Dakota law professor, it is truly meaningful to be in the Dakota lands teaching law to future generations of lawyers in the field, both indigenous and non-indigenous. “

With a distinguished career in litigation and education, Routel has testified before Congress on Indian country law and has co-authored five U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs over the past three warrants, including a brief cited in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court record. McGirt decision this year. She is working with clinical students on a treaty rights case involving several Wisconsin tribes, which is currently pending in federal court.

EagleWoman and Routel aim to help students succeed in law school; train them in moot competitions; and work to place alumni after graduation. “We want to expand and continue to have a strong program that proves lawyers who are rooted in serving their communities,” Routel noted.

“I have wanted to get a degree in Indigenous law since I was 12,” said Angela Levasseur, second year student, member of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in Manitoba, Canada. “To be self-reliant, self-sufficient and self-determined, Indigenous nations must assert control over their affairs and their justice systems. “

After earning several degrees, Levasseur learned that his nation’s chief and council were recruiting citizens to attend law school so that they could work for the nation as legal counsel in the future. A teacher and mother of five, Levasseur joined Mitchell Hamline because of her flexibility, which still allows her to work full time.

“I will be my people’s advocate, which will be my dream come true.”

Levasseur is co-vice-president of the Mitchell Hamline Native American Law Students Association. This year’s NALSA President Patti Buhl had a long career in law enforcement, most notably as a police chief, before enrolling in law school. Earlier this year, she was named Coordinator of Oklahoma State’s Efforts to Investigate and Respond to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Cases.

Several alums work for tribal governments. When the eastern band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina established their first legal aid office, Bonnie Claxton ’13, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, became the first manager. Jessie Stomski Seim ’08, a citizen of Creek, is General Counsel for the Indian community of Prairie Island in southeast Minnesota.

“There has been a series of injustices for Native Americans since the founding of the United States,” EagleWoman said. “Although treaties have been made, there are still many problems to be resolved in order to realize the full extent of treaty obligations between the United States and tribal governments.”

“It’s really hard to imagine practicing law in a state without knowing Indian law,” Routel adds. “There are 574 federally recognized tribal nations in the United States. Even if you never practice in a tribal court or work on a fundraising project on a reserve, for example, as tribes continue to expand their businesses in an era of greater self-determination, knowledge of the law Native American is essential.

“You can’t be a lawyer in this state and not know about these issues.”

Professors EagleWoman and Routel will be hosting an open house on October 20 for anyone interested in learning more about Mitchell Hamline’s Native American Law and Sovereignty Institute. More information.



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