OU Law is home to the Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy, which provides counsel to tribal, state and national policymakers and a forum for the interdisciplinary discussion and resolution of problems facing native communities. The Center offers various speaker programs throughout the year as well as the Native American Law Certificate and the Latin American Fellows Program. The Center was founded in 1990 by Dr. Rennard Strickland. Professor Lindsay Robertson is the faculty director, and Professor Taiawagi Helton is the associate director.
Member countries of the United Nations are required to submit reports to the U.N. Human Rights Council about the status of human rights in their countries. Focusing on indigenous populations, students in the International Human Rights Clinic research and investigate issues that have an impact on indigenous populations in selected countries. Such issues include property rights and regulation of natural resource development; environmental protection; access to education opportunities and medical care; and protection of civil and political rights. Using treaties and international law as a foundation, students work collaboratively in conducting the research, utilizing a variety of resources. Their work culminates in the submission of a report to the council at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The students also present their research and conclusions before a university audience.
Students must have completed a selection of courses including Federal Indian Law, International Law Foundations, International Human Rights, and/or International Environmental Law prior to enrollment in the clinic.
To date, the students have submitted reports to the Human Rights Council discussing Guyana, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, Venezuela and Uganda. They are currently developing reports for Ecuador and Morocco. The reports on Guyana, Panama, Papua New Guinea and Suriname were mentioned multiple times in the official summary reports prepared for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights relating to those countries.
Select students have the opportunity to attend several national Native American legal conferences. The Federal Bar Conference, held in Albuquerque, is the largest Indian legal conference in the world, and OU Law students attend each year.
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Sovereignty Symposium provides a national forum for the scholarly, non-adversarial exchange of ideas, and is the second largest Native American legal conference. Held in Oklahoma City each year, the Sovereignty Symposium frequently includes law student paper presentations and opportunities to meet tribal, state, national and private employers in the field.
Each summer, the Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy hosts a visiting Latin American scholar in the field of indigenous peoples law. Fellows participate in the Federal Indian Law course, meet with students and tribal officials, and make presentations on indigenous legal issues.
American Indian Law Review
First produced in 1973, the American Indian Law Review is published biannually by the College of Law. This unique review offers articles by authorities on American Indian legal and cultural issues, student notes and comments, addresses by noted speakers, and recent developments of interest to tribal attorneys and scholars in Indian law. The Review is produced by an independent staff of law students.
NALSA Moot Court Competition
The National Native American Law Student Association Moot Court Competition focuses on current issues of national importance involving Indian law. This moot court competition provides an excellent complement to the substantive courses, law review and internship opportunities. Held every spring, this advocacy competition is open to all students in good standing who are members of the student organization. The topic focuses on a current issue in Federal Indian Law or tribal law. Each two-member team writes a brief and presents oral arguments at the competition held once a year.