Northern Plains Indian Law Center

The School of Law, in consultation with area tribes and Indian leaders, has established the Northern Plains Indian Law Center. The Center's purposes are to assist tribal governments in addressing legal issues affecting tribal lands and members, and to promote diversity within the legal profession by increasing recruitment and retention of American Indian law students.

The Center is a clearinghouse for American Indian legal materials and provides a forum for discussing and resolving legal issues confronting Indian tribes, the states, and the federal government. It will also support tribal advocacy training programs. Among the Center's programs are the Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Training Institute, the Native American Law Project, Tribal Environmental Law Project, and the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy.

It is the goal of the University of North Dakota's Northern Plains Indian Law Center to promote and support American Indians and tribes in their endeavors to advance legal opportunities for Indian people living in or associated with the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota, and to foster greater cross-cultural exchange in the interest of mutual understanding and development.


Implement the blueprint developed for the Center incorporating the Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Training Institute, Native American Law Project, and the Tribal Environmental Law Project, with the School of Law to provide coordinated legal services and programs for American Indians.

Increase the number of American Indians in the legal profession by actively recruiting American Indians interested in law school and supporting those students who become enrolled in law school.

Develop a clearinghouse containing American Indian treaties, laws, resolutions, and legal documents about American Indians; consolidate that information to form a tribal, state, and federal resource data base at UND School of Law that can be used by tribal governments, state and federal agencies, and the public at large.

Coordinate and develop forums between and among tribal, state, and federal agencies to examine and explore legal issues common to these groups of people.

Establish a productive relationship between tribal governments and UND's School of Law.

Project Components of the Center

Tribal Judicial Institute
B. J. Jones, Director

Tribal Environmental Law Project
Professor James M. Grijalva, Director

This project provides legal and policy assistance to tribal governments developing environmental programs intended to protect the health and welfare of tribal citizens, tribal natural resources, and the quality of reservations and ceded lands. The project also researches legal issues of general relevance to the authority of tribal governments to implement and administer civil regulatory programs.

Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy
Professor Kathryn R.L. Rand and Dr. Steven Andrew Light, Co-Directors

The Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy provides legal and policy assistance related to tribal gaming enterprises to all interested governments and organizations, assists tribes with gaming enterprises in pursuing reservation economic development and building strong tribal governments, and contributes to the scholarly and practical research and literature in the area of tribal gaming.

Native American Law Project

This project, offered some semesters, provides legal assistance to the Spirit Lake Nation of the Fort Totten Indian Reservation. Second and third year law students provide legal services under the supervision of a practicing attorney. The project has also served as the Tribe's Prosecutor for criminal matters.

The Northern Plains Indian Law Center is governed by an Internal Advisory Committee which consists of law school faculty and staff. The Center also receives valuable input from an External Advisory Board composed of tribal government officials, community members, attorneys and educators.

Many members of the UND faculty and staff have taught, presented lectures and published books and articles in the area of Indian Law. A list of recent Indian law-related publications and presentations by UND faculty and staff is updated regularly.