Indian and Tribal Law Certificate
The University of North Dakota School of Law Indian Law Certificate Program rewards students who take at least 15 credits of the many classes offered concerning Indian Law and Tribal Law at the Law School with special recognition.
Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of acknowledgment, a notation of completion of the program on their transcript, and the opportunity to signal their commitment to and command of an increasingly important and expanding area of law. In keeping with the movement toward a progressive curriculum, the Indian Law Certificate provides opportunities for students to learn not only black letter law but also to obtain their intensive writing experience and half of their experiential education requirement with a focus on Indian Law.
Federal Indian Law – LAW 204 - 3 credits
This course examines the United States' policies and laws regarding tribal governments and individual Indians. Major topics include: the origin and scope of federal power over Indian affairs, tribal governmental powers, tribal court systems, tribal property rights, limitations on state powers, and civil and criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country.
Tribal Law - LAW 278 - 2 credits
This course involves an examination of how Indian tribes legislate the law and adjudicate disputes that evolve in tribal communities. Instead of focusing on the relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes this course undertakes an analysis of how Indian tribes promulgate and enforce the law and how they interact with each other and state governments. Students will be given the option of writing a paper on a topic impacting this area or writing a judicial decision in an actual case in a tribal court utilizing the principles learned in the class.
Tribal Clerkship & Codification - LAW 361 – 3 Credits (Experiential)
Each student will be given a legal issue(s) associated with an active or simulated case present in the tribal courts from our region. Under the supervision of the professor – the student will research the legal issue(s) and draft a bench brief suitable for presentation to tribal judges. As an additional component of this course, students will be trained to carefully read cases issued from tribal courts and will serve as annotators, assisting in the creation of a regional tribal reporter. After annotation, the cases will be scanned, organized, collected, and published electronically through the Northern Plains Indian Law Center and the University of North Dakota School of Law.
Indian Law Primary Courses
Certificate students must earn aa minimum of 7 credits.
Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country – 2 credits
This course is focused on the criminal aspect of Indian law. It looks at the basics of criminal jurisdiction for the United States, states, and Indian tribes. It explores exceptions to basic jurisdictional rules created by Congress like the expansion of tribal court authority in the Violence Against Women Act and Public Law 280. The course examines how to determine the locus of a crime when elements occur both inside and outside Indian country and an examination of tribal sentencing. Finally, it includes procedural rights in tribal court – including topics like extradition, right to a jury trial, access to counsel, and the limits of lawful searches on reservations.
Indian Child Welfare Act - 2 credits
This course will combine an academic and historical analysis of the Indian Child Welfare Act with an examination of how native children are treated in the legal system in the child welfare area, as well as other areas (health care, education, and child support enforcement). The final grade will be based upon the students writing a brief for an Indian tribe, Indian parent, adoptive parent, or other party to an ICWA proceeding in an actual case that has been litigated or completing a comprehensive paper that may satisfy the writing requirement. Students will have the opportunity during the class to hear from tribal leaders, native persons who have been adopted out, and others about the historical displacement of Indian children from their Tribes and the impact of this legacy.
Indian Country Environmental Law - 3 credits (Fulfills Intensive Writing Requirement)
Course Coverage: This course examines how an anomalous confluence of federal environmental, administrative and Indian law exacerbates environmental injustice in Indian country, but also offers its most promising solution. The modern environmental law paradigm of federal-state partnerships falters in Indian country where state regulatory jurisdiction is constrained by federal Indian law. A resulting void of effective environmental regulation threatens the cultural survival of American Indian tribes, who face air and water contamination from a legacy of federally encouraged natural resource development. A potential solution for closing the circle of national environmental protection accords sovereign tribal governments a state-like status. The course examines comprehensively the tribal treatment-as-a-state approach first developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and later codified by Congress in amendments to most of the major environmental laws, as well as federal cases brought by states and non-Indians challenging EPA's and tribes' authority to make binding value judgments about Indian country environmental protection.
Indian Gaming Law - 2 credits
What is Indian gaming, and how did it turn into a multi-billion dollar industry and the most prominent public policy issue concerning Native Americans today? Framed by tribal sovereignty and the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA), this course examines the substantive law governing Indian gaming, as well as the broader political context of reservation economic development through gaming. In just over two decades, Indian gaming has become a $26.5 billion industry with some 440 casinos operated by 230 tribes in 28 states. The course will explore the history of tribal gaming, substantive provisions of IGRA as well as other pertinent federal, tribal, and state law, and the continuing development of case law, statutory and administrative law, and, of course, politics. Topics include regulatory authority, casino-style gaming and tribal-state compacts, socioeconomic effects, revenue sharing, and "off-reservation" gaming.
International & Comparative Indigenous Peoples Law – 2-3 credits
This course focuses on the international aspects of law and Indigenous people. The international part of the course looks at the development of legal protections of indigenous culture at the multi-state level. It is primarily focused on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) but also includes discussion of regional human rights bodies like the International Labor Organization 169, the Inter-America Court of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, and the broader U.N. treaty system. The comparative portion of the course looks at the treatment of indigenous people by other nation states and compares them to both the United States and to each other. The course focuses primarily on the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (all common law countries) but includes discussion of other nations as well. This course is offered infrequently but may also be independent studied any semester.
Jurisdiction in Indian Country – 3 Credits
Jurisdiction in Indian Country focuses on going in depth on the authority of a tribe to adjudicate disputes and legislate rules and regulations that govern both Indians and non-Indians on and near the reservation. No prior Indian Law coursework is necessary. Topics given particular attention are the tribes legislative authority to zone, to regulate hunting and fishing, and to tax. Additional attention is paid to the state’s respective authority to create rules or levy taxes in these same areas on the reservation. This tension between the tribe and the state forms the basic focus of this course.
NALSA Moot Court – 1-2 credits
Members of UND’s Native American Law Student Association may be invited to participate in the national NALSA moot court competition during the spring semester. Students who participate are eligible to earn up to two credits. UND typically sends four students a year to the competition. Participation is only by selection for the university team by the team coach(es).
Race & Justice – 2-3 credits
Race and Justice is an examination of what role race plays in the administration of justice in the United States starting with an analysis of how race was used as a legal construct to elevate the legal standing of certain persons over others based upon race and then how racial disparities continue to exist in our criminal and civil legal systems as a by-product of that era. The course focuses heavily on race in the criminal justice system by examining the impact of the War on Drugs on persons of color and the interaction between the police and people of color. The course offers the option of a final exam or a comprehensive paper on a topic to be approved by the instructor.
Tribal Economic Development – 2 credits
This course provides instruction on the intersection of federal and tribal laws that impact the planning, development and implementation of new businesses or the enhancement of existing businesses in tribal communities. Course instruction also pertains to the many statutory and common laws that may apply to businesses and professionals entering into business relationships with tribal governments and tribal businesses. This course will include application of the laws discussed.
Tribal Externship – 1-7 credits
Students may earn externship credit by working for an Indian tribe or in a related placement like a non-profit or government agency with Indian law as the primary focus. For an externship credit to count toward the Indian Law Certificate it must be approved by the Director of the certificate program. Students have earned credit for externing with local tribes, for agencies like the National Indian Gaming Commission, and for government work like the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
The Indian Law Certificate Program is designed to provide specialized instruction to students who are interested and invested in Indian law and who will seek to practice in an arena in which Indian law issues predominate or are central to the problems that the students will face. The law school recognizes the special and unique relevance these courses provide to a program of law for students intending to practice in North Dakota and across the northern plains.
The certificate program is open to all School of Law students who have completed the first year curriculum and are in good academic standing. The certificate program requires students to successfully complete a total of fifteen (15) credits as follows:
- Two Required Courses - 5 Credits
- Primary Courses - 7 or more Credits
- Experiential Requirement - 3 Credits
- 15 Credit Minimum
Students may also petition the Director of the Indian Law Certificate to have an independent study or special project fulfill program requirements including primary course credit. Such requests will generally not be approved to replace required courses absent extraordinary circumstances.
Students interested in the certificate can also use certificate courses to fulfill other graduation requirements simultaneously. Indian Country Environmental Law will, from the 2017-2018 school year going forward, fulfill the intensive writing requirement. The clerkship and codification capstone course will fulfill 3-credits toward the 6-credit experiential learning requirement. In this way certificate students can still enjoy a full range of electives while also completing their Indian law focus.
The certificate will be awarded to School of Law students simultaneously with the J.D. degree and will be reflected on the student’s law school transcript.
Indian Law Curriculum
Two Required Courses
Students are required to complete both of these courses in order to secure the certificate. They are typically offered every year, Federal Indian Law in the fall and Tribal Law in the spring. It is strongly recommended, but not required, that students complete the require courses during their second year of study.
LAW 204: Federal Indian Law (3 Credits)
LAW 278: Tribal Law (2 Credits)
Primary Courses (Any 7 Credits)
Students are required to complete a total of 7 credits in primary courses related
to Indian law. Students may also use independent study projects to count toward the
7 required credits with the advanced permission of the Certificate Director.
LAW 256 – Jurisdiction in Indian Country (3 Credits)
LAW 270 – Race & Justice (2-3 Credits)
LAW 276 – Indian Gaming Law (3 Credits)
LAW 279 – Tribal Economic Development (2 Credits)
LAW 294 – Indian Child Welfare Act (2 Credits)
LAW 340 – Indian Country Environmental Law (3 Credits) (Intensive Writing Requirement)
LAW 550 – Independent Study (1-3 Credits) (If Approved by Certificate Director in Advance)
LAW 553 – Moot Court (1-2 Credits) (Only for NALSA Moot Court)
Experiential Component – Clerkship & Codification
As the experiential component of the Indian Law Certificate program students will have the opportunity to practice being clerks to tribal courts (working either with real active cases, or simulated cases depending on timing and availability) and work with the codification of actual written tribal opinions to be collected and published electronically by the Northern Plains Indian Law Center and the University of North Dakota School of Law. In keeping with the goal of a progressive curriculum that moves students from the classroom to practice, it is expected that students will complete the experiential component during the Spring semester of their 3L year.
Each student will be given a legal issue(s) associated with an active or simulated case present in the tribal courts from our region. Under the supervision of the professor – the student will research the legal issue(s) and draft a bench brief suitable for presentation to tribal judges. For active cases; when possible the student will then visit the tribal court and observe the actual proceedings associated with their case. The student will subsequently meet with the tribal judge(s) to discuss the proceedings and will assist in the preparation of the final written opinion.
By the time students reach the experiential course they will have observed how state and federal court opinions are regularly organized and annotated by services like Lexis and West to provide the reader headnotes or keycites regarding propositions of law. These annotated cases serve to make legal research easier and assist both lawyers and judges in ensuring the law is consistently discussed and applied. Additionally, annotation helps to find cases that have been questioned or overturned and highlight that potentially negative subsequent treatment for the legal reader.
As an additional component of this course, students will be trained to carefully read cases issued from tribal courts and will serve as annotators, assisting in the creation of a regional tribal reporter.
After annotation, the cases will be scanned, organized, collected, and published electronically through the Northern Plains Indian Law Center and the University of North Dakota School of Law. The codification component may also include reviewing, organizing, and/or creating materials that reflect best practices for tribal courts, model statutes for adoption by tribal legislatures, and other materials ranging from forms to instructional materials that would be helpful to a practitioner in Indian Country.
We have a talented core of nationally recognized faculty who have committed themselves to the diverse and important field of Indian Law and who are dedicated to educating the next generation of leaders in Indian Country.Michael McGinniss, Dean of UND Law