The American Indian Law Program at Colorado Law
At Colorado Law, we believe that American Indians deserve the very best lawyers and that we have an obligation to train them. Our American Indian Law Program faculty, including the nation’s top scholars and practitioners in the field, offers a full slate of introductory and advanced classes in the field to prepare students for all aspects of Indian law practice, and we now have dozens of successful alumni practicing Indian law in tribal government, federal agencies, and at law firms. Colorado Law graduates are equally prepared to work on impact litigation, economic development, policy advocacy, individual legal services, and tribal governance in Indian law. Our American Indian Law Program also appeals to many students with broader practice interests in natural resources, public lands, property, museum and art law, technology, entrepreneurship, family law, and beyond. Indeed, because American Indian law raises questions regarding the rule of law and legal pluralism, the contours of sovereignty and governance, cross-cultural representation and minority rights, and interdisciplinary study and practice, it offers important intellectual development opportunities for all Colorado Law students.
Drawing from the legacy of some of our earliest alumni, including the famous legal advocate and intellectual Vine Deloria ’70, and our relationship with the Native American Rights Fund, founded by the late Dean David Getches, our approach to American Indian law is deeply grounded in Indian Country. The American Indian Law Program at Colorado Law provides students with opportunities to gain practical experience and serve Indian people and tribes through the American Indian Law Clinic; externships at NARF, the Ute tribes, and Denver Indian Center; and clerkship opportunities at law firms and tribal courts. In conjunction with the Colorado Indian Bar Association and other sponsors, we have a new annual Speaker Series and Conference, allowing Colorado Law to serve as the region’s convening institution for tribal leaders, advocates, scholars and community members to address the most pressing challenges in Indian law and policy.
What distinguishes Colorado Law from other law schools is our unparalleled history and commitment to American Indian law, our top notch-faculty of five full-time professors in the field, and our relationships with tribes and tribal organizations, all of which provide students with a comprehensive, supportive, and rigorous academic experience. Students enjoy a very close relationship with our American Indian Law faculty who mentor students through research and scholarship opportunities, pro bono work, and a fellowship with the American Indian Law Program. Our Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) is extremely active, with recent top finishes at the National NALSA Moot Court Competition, an annual Fall Harvest Feast, and other educational and social events throughout the year. In all of these ways, American Indian Law is thriving at Colorado Law. We hope you will join us!
American Indian Law Program Full-time Faculty
Colorado Law's full-time faculty are nationally recognized experts in American Indian Law.
Clockwise: Professor Kristen Carpenter, Professor Richard Collins, Professor S. James Anaya, Professor Charles Wilkinson, Carla Fredericks, and Professor Sarah Krakoff.
- Professor Kristen Carpenter is Council Tree Professor of Law and Director of the American Indian Law Program. Professor Carpenter writes in the areas of American Indian Law, Property Law, Religion, and Human Rights and her articles have been published in the Yale Law Journal, California Law Review, UCLA Law Review, American Indian Law Review and others. Professor Carpenter is also active in pro bono work with tribes, including federal appellate cases on sacred sites, peyote, and child welfare matters. At Colorado Law, Professor Carpenter teaches courses in Property, Cultural Property, American Indian Law, and Indigenous Peoples in International Law and is the Faculty Advisor to the Native American Law Students Association. She is also the co-founder of the CU Native American Research Faculty group, a university-wide, interdisciplinary effort that promotes indigenous studies and outreach to Native communities.
- Professor Richard Collins teaches American Indian law courses and seminars as well as basic courses in property and constitutional law. After clerking for a U.S. Circuit judge, he represented American Indians and tribes while working for California Indian Legal Services, Dinebeiina Naihiilna Be Agaditahe (Navajo Legal Services), and the Native American Rights Fund. His work included several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including McClanahan v. Arizona Tax Commission.
- Professor Sarah Krakoff is a prior Director of the American Indian Law Clinic and teaches American Indian Law, American Indian Law Seminar, and Civil Procedure. She is also current Chair of the Getches Wilkinson Center's Board of Directors. She has published several articles on American Indian law and natural resource issues. After clerking for a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, she worked as the Youth Law Project Director for DNA-People's Legal Services on the Navajo Nation.
- Professor Charles Wilkinson is considered the leading expert on American West law, history, and society. He is the author of 12 books including Federal Indian Law, the standard law texts on federal public land law and books written for a broader audience. He teaches American Indian and Natural Resources Law. He practiced law with the Native American Rights Fund and has advised the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Justice.
American Indian Law Certificate Program
Colorado Law offers an American Indian Law Certificate demonstrating the completion of a concentrated course of study in the legal issues facing Native peoples and American Indian tribes. This Certificate is attractive to legal, tribal, and governmental employers, as well as employers seeking to do business with tribes and tribal members.
Certificate requirements include: (1) at least 92 credit hours (89 is required for the J.D.), and (2) at least 18 of the 92 credit hours in designated Indian law and related courses. Visit Rules of the Law School for complete details.
To register for the American Indian Law Certificate, please complete the following steps:
(1) Consult with the Director of the American Indian Law Program (Professor Kristen Carpenter) about your planned selection of courses;
(2) Complete the registration form when registering for your second year of law school. Please indicate the classes you plan to take for the Certificate. You are not bound to the plan you submit, and there is no penalty (other than not receiving the Certificate) for failing to complete the program;
Note: We strongly encourage submitting this form when you register for your second year. It helps both you and us to plan for your successful completion of the program. However, you can still receive the Certificate if you submit this form late but complete the required coursework.
(3) By January 20th of your 3L year, confirm that you will earn the Certificate by re-submitting the form with updated information.
Required courses after the first year (14 credits):
From the American Indian Law Curriculum
- Advanced American Indian Law Seminar (the seminar rotates among topics with recent topics including Indigenous Peoples in International Law; Economic Development & Resources in Indian Country; Indian Country & the Regulatory State)
- Cultural Property Law
- Indigenous Peoples in International Law
- Jurisdiction in Indian Country
- National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition
- Independent Legal Research Project on an American Indian law topic (upon approval of the AILP Director)
- Externship with an American Indian law focus (upon the approval of the AILP Director)
- Any course from the University of Colorado’s Native American Indigenous Studies (“NAIS”) graduate certificate (upon approval of the AILP Director)
- American Indian law course at another law school on a topic not regularly offered at Colorado Law (upon the approval of the AILP Director)
From the Environment and Natural Resources Law Curriculum
- Foundations of Natural Resources Law and Policy
- Environmental Law
- Water Law
- Public Land Law
- Advanced Natural Resources Law Seminar
- Energy Justice
- Climate Change
- Climate Justice
- Mining & Energy
- Oil & Gas
- Oil & International Relations
- Energy Law & Regulation
- Renewable Energy Finance & Development
From the Government and Public Law Curriculum
From the Litigation, Negotiation, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Curriculum
From the Business & Commercial Law Curriculum
From the International and Comparative Law Curriculum
From the Labor & Employment Curriculum
From the Property, Trusts and Estates & Land Use Curriculum
From the Family & Juvenile Justice Curriculum
From the Legal Theory, Jurisprudence, and Social Policy Curriculum
- Power, Ethics, and Professionalism
- Race and the Law
- Law and Religion
- Law and Economic Development
From the Research & Writing Curriculum
From the Intellectual Property, Technology, and Telecommunications Curriculum
- Other classes that may be approved by the AILP Directors and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
The American Indian Law Clinic
- Course Number and Description
- Mission and Clients
- Type of Legal Assistance
- A Guide to Colorado Legal Resources for Native Americans
The American Indian Law Clinic, established in 1992 as one of the first of its kind, provides quality legal representation to low-income clients with specific Indian law related problems. Many in the Denver region have limited access to legal assistance and that access is further restricted when the issue involves Indian law. They have nowhere to turn when certain rights, some guaranteed by treaty, are denied. The Clinic’s student attorneys provide hundreds of hours of pro bono legal work to assist these people with direct legal assistance when possible, or by acting as a referral source when unable to help directly.
During this yearlong course, students receive classroom instruction and hands-on experience regarding Indian law issues, focused primarily on Colorado cases and projects that have a uniquely Indian law dimension. “Uniquely Indian law” issues are addressed by that body of law that concerns the status of Indian tribes and regulates the legal relationship between them, the federal government, the states and their citizens—commonly known as federal Indian law. All cases accepted and projects undertaken by the Clinic involve issues of federal Indian law or the law of a particular tribe. Student attorneys handle cases under the supervision of a licensed attorney, the American Indian Law Clinic Director.
Colorado Law students provide valuable legal advocacy research, writing, and education to individuals, the tribal courts, and tribal communities.
- Tribal sovereignty
- Preservation of tribal identity (including matters governed by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act "ICWA")
- International Indigenous Peoples Law
- Preservation of Native lands
- Religious freedom
- Tribal court support
- Tribal governance enhancement, including drafting of legislative codes and regulations
- Cases generally not handled by the Clinic: criminal (including post-conviction review), traffic citations, those that would provide a fee to a private attorney (such as personal injury or workers' compensation claims), and non-Indian or non-tribal law issues.
The American Indian Law Clinic seeks out opportunities to expand its legal services to the Native American community in critical areas. In addition to the representation of Native Americans and tribes, the Clinic has undertaken the following projects:
- American Indian Community Legal Education Outreach Projects: The American Indian Law Clerk engages in annual outreach projects that provide legal education on cutting-edge topics of federal Indian law to tribal communities and to Colorado’s Native population. These projects provide a unique learning opportunity for the student attorneys as they travel to different Indian communities to provide this important information. Recent community education topics have included:
- The first Colorado Tribal-State Judicial Seminar, “Improving Implementation of Federal Full Faith and Credit Mandates”
- Colorado Indian Community Law Day with the theme “Legal Issues Affecting Native American Children”
- Workshops for the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and the Shoshone and Arapahoe tribal communities on the impact of the American Indian Probate Reform Act on tribal member land interests
- A training for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe on how to improve the outcome of child welfare cases in Colorado courts involving tribal member children.
- Workshop with Tribe on Free Informed Prior Consent (FPIC)
- Workshop on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation entitled "Know Your Rights Under the Indian Child Wellfare Act (ICWA)" presented in conjunction with Lakota Peoples' Law Project
- Workshop for students on incorporation, entity formation, and jurisidiction for the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
- Family Preservation Project: Under its Family Preservation Project, the American Indian Law Clinic works with the Denver Indian Family Resource Center to help maintain and strengthen the Indian family unit in the Denver metropolitan area. The Clinic delivers legal assistance to Indian individuals on family law, employment, and civil rights issues. The Clinic is especially active and successful in ensuring compliance with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which among other things, helps ensure that Indian children are placed with extended family members or with other Indian families.
The Native American Law Student Association
The Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) of CU is a student association of Native American law students as well as non-Native law students interested in Federal Indian Law and Native issues in general.
The purpose of NALSA is threefold:
1. To promote an awareness of Native American issues at the law school and greater CU campus;
2. To develop a community atmosphere for Native American law students;
3. To organize activities that will enrich the law school experience and assist NALSA members in their career development.
Law students can get involved with NALSA by attending monthly membership meetings and joining NALSA's TWEN site on Westlaw. NALSA officers coordinate events to promote awareness of American Indian issues at the lawschool as well as in the United States. NALSA officers also fundraise for those events and act as NALSA representatives at law school and non-law school functions. NALSA members may form committees to fundraise, organize events and compete in National NALSA Moot Court as well as attend the annual Federal Bar Association's Indian Law Conference.
President: Evan DeWitt, email@example.com
Vice President: Taylor Schad, firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary: Sasha Strong, email@example.com
Treasurer: Ryan Lolar, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Ntnl Affialiate Website||http://www.nationalnalsa.org|
|TWEN Website||click here for TWEN website
On the NALSA TWEN site, students will find organizational information about NALSA, upcoming events, opportunities (moot court and writing competitions, fellowships, scholarships, externships, clerkships, jobs, etc.) and member contributions as to current Native issues. There are also sign-up sheets for event volunteers, surveys and e-mail access to the NALSA membership.
Every year in September, NALSA hosts a social for the incoming students to meet the current NALSA membership. In early November, NALSA also sponsors the Fall Harvest Feast, a Native American community potluck for law students, members of the Colorado Indian Bar Association (CIBA) and Native American community members. NALSA has also participated in National NALSA Moot Court, the Federal Bar Association's Indian Law Conference, the Denver March Pow Wow, and the annual CIBA Red Rock Ramble fundraiser. In 2009, CU NALSA co-hosted the 17th Annual National NALSA Moot Court Competition with the University of Denver NALSA Chapter (the event was held at the Wolf Law Building).
Students serve as externs with local Indian law firms, non-profit entities serving the Native American community such as the Native American Rights Fund and Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, government agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tribal Programs, and the Southern Ute Tribal Court and Ute Mountain Tribe. Students also work under the guidance of Colorado Law faculty on American Indian and tribal law research issues while providing much-needed legal work to those most in need.
Scholarships and Fellowships
The Colorado Indian Bar Association vigorously raises funds to provide scholarships to individuals studying American Indian law at Colorado Law. The American Indian Graduate Center posts fellowship opportunities for law students.
Each year the American Indian Law Program appoints a student or recent graduate as the AILP Fellow to work on program administration, student recruiting, events, research, and pro bono projects in American Indian law.
AILP Community Events & News
Colorado Law Native American Law Students Association To Host 2022 National Moot Court
The National Native American Law Students Association, in partnership with the University of Colorado Law School, and the CU NALSA Chapter, are excited to host the 30th Annual NNALSA Moot Court Competition in Boulder, Colorado on February 26th and 27th, 2022.
Professor and American Indian Law Program Director Kristen Carpenter will serve as the problem author, and the competition will see teams from law schools around the country visit Colorado Law to argue before a panel of guest judges.
For more information and to stay up to date on news and information regarding this event, please visit the competition's website or contact the 2022 NNALSA Moot Court Administrator directly at email@example.com.
Chase Velasquez, a tribal attorney with experience at the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and the San Carlos Apache Tribe’s Department of Justice, has joined the University of Colorado Law School as a visiting clinical professor and interim director of the American Indian Law Clinic.
Velasquez is an enrolled member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. He was raised on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona.
Indigenous Leaders, Lawyers, and Community Members
Mark your calendars and join us for a very special webinar series featuring indigenous experts
as well as representatives from the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the
World Intellectual Property Organization.
September 10 and September 24, 2020 at 9-11 A.M. Mountain Time Zone
American Indian Law Program Newsletter
For more information about AILP's 2019 Conference: Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States, please go to the "2019 Conference" tab.
"Implementing the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States"
March 15-16, 2019
The University of Colorado Law School and Native American Rights Fund hosted this conference as the initial program of the "Project to Implement the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States." The conference gathered practitioners, scholars, and advocates to discuss how to advance the promises of the Declaration and develop a strategy for its implementation in the United States, toward the true flourishing of indigenous peoples, healing, and justice for all.
The conference included high-level discussions on challenges in Federal Indian Law and the role of international human rights in advocacy efforts, plus workshops on issues of tribal self-governance, land rights and sacred sites, climate change, business and entrepreneurship, Indian child welfare, technology and telecommunications, and a special feature on the UN's 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages.
University of Colorado Law School
"Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples"
Thursday, November 5, 2015
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday November 10, 2014, 6:00 pm -7:00 pm
Wolf Law Building, University of Colorado at Boulder
September 12, 2014, 8:00 am – 3:30pm
October 10, 2013
April 4-5, 2013
James S. Anaya, U.N. Special Rappateur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
January 25, 2013
American Indian Law Program Archives
- Spring 2015 AILP Newsletter
- Fall 2014 AILP Newsletter
- Spring 2013 AILP Newsletter
- Fall 2012 AILP Newsletter
- Spring 2012 AILP Newsletter
Tatanka Legal Times Newsletters
Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States
All the information you need to attend this momentous gathering in Boulder, Colorado:
In 2007, following decades of advocacy by indigenous peoples, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration, acknowledging indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination, equality, property, culture, and other human rights. The United States, along with Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, have pledged their support for the Declaration, and 148 nations worldwide now accept a set of agreed-upon norms for the just treatment of indigenous peoples.
Walter Echo-Hawk stated that the General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration is “a landmark event that promises to shape humanity in the post-colonial age.”
The Declaration provides an impetus to redress historic wrongs committed against indigenous peoples and advance the arc of justice. The Declaration sets forth a remedial scheme to address the legacy of land dispossession, physical violence, cultural disruption, economic deprivation, and other harms experienced by indigenous peoples during the experiences of conquest, colonization, and settlement. It will take comprehensive law and policy reform, as well as structural and conceptual change, to begin the process of redress and reconciliation for indigenous peoples in domestic legal systems.
On March 15-16, 2019, the University of Colorado Law School and Native American Rights Fund will host a conference to advance the promises of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and develop a strategy for its implementation in the United States.
We envision this event as a transformative gathering of critical thinkers and committed advocates, toward the true flourishing of indigenous peoples, healing, and justice for all.
Join us for high level discussions on challenges in Federal Indian Law and the role of international human rights in advocacy efforts, workshops on cultural rights, climate change and environmental advocacy, business and entrepreneurship, Indian child welfare, technology and communications, and a special feature on the UN’s 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Read more about the joint Colorado Law and NARF Project to Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States, HERE.
CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION CREDITS
*CLE Colorado credits are available only for the following participant categories: Government, Private Sector / Law Firm, CU Alumni, and Non-profit.
Government* -- $60.00
Private Sector / Law Firm* -- $60.00
CU Alumni* -- $30.00
Non-profit* -- $20.00
Public -- $15.00
CU Faculty, Students or Staff -- Free
Speaker -- Free
Date, Time, Location
March 15-16, 2019
8:30 AM - 1:30 PM (following day)
Wolf Law Building
University of Colorado Law School
2450 Kittredge Loop Road
Parking is limited on campus and generally restricted. Permits are required for Lot 470 and lot 402 five days a week from 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. There is metered parking available along the south side of Kittredge Loop Road (Lot 415) immediately after the roundabout in front of the Fleming Building. If Lot 415 is full, use Lot 406 or Lot 306. For maps, please click here.
Friday: Metered parking on Lot 415. You can also use Lot 406 or Lot 306.
Saturday: Parking is free in lot 470 and 402.
Boulder offers many wonderful lodging options for participants. Below please see information for two hotels that have offered a special rate for conference attendees.
Group rate at the Best Western Plus Boulder Inn (near Colorado Law)
Location: 770 28th Street, Boulder, CO 80303
Online Code: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotel-rooms.06103.html?groupId=2E2CU0X5
Phone Code: call 800-233-8469 and reference code “AILP @ CU LAW "
Group Rate: $129 for a room with one king bed.
Reserve by: March 1
Group Rate at the Boulderado (Downtown Boulder)
Location: 2115 13th St. Boulder, CO 80302.
Group Code: 39936
Group Rate: $189.
Reserve by: February 12
No refunds will be made for cancellations received after the close of business on Friday, March 8, 2019. If a refund applies, only 95% of registration fee will be refunded to cover processing costs. Substitutions may be made at any time upon notification. Please contact Edyael Casaperalta at firstname.lastname@example.org with cancellation or substitution requests.
WITH THANKS TO OUR COLLABORATORS, PARTNERS, AND SPONSORS
Margaret Choi and Woon Ki Lau
Cindy Caditz Lang
Language Panel Sponsor
CU Presidential Humanities Grant
Charles (Chuck) Howe
Friday March 15, 2019
8:30-8:45 am Welcome and Opening Remarks
8:45-10:00 Current Challenges in Federal Indian Law & the Promise of the Declaration
10:15-11:15 The Role of International Law in U.S. Domestic Advocacy and Law Reform
11:30-12:15 Keynote Address and Coen Lecture
"Why Do We Need a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
12:30-1:30 pm Luncheon & Fireside
“Inspired Action in Indian Country”
2:00- 3:15 Comparative Perspectives on Implementation
3:30-4:45 Self-Determination & Human Rights in the United States
Saturday, March 16
9-10:30 am The UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019 (and Beyond!)
10:45-12:15 Human Rights in Action Workshops
A. Technology, Media, and Communication
B. Climate Change & Environmental Advocacy
C. Cultural Rights (possible breakout on Language Rights)
D. Indian Child Welfare
E. Business and Human Rights
Lunch & Wrap-Up 12:15-1:30
Questions: Please email AILP Fellow Edyael at email@example.com
- Academic Support
- Areas of Study
- American Indian Law
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Dispute Resolution
- Entrepreneurial and Business Law
- Health Law and Policy
- Immigration and Citizenship Law
- International Law
- Juvenile and Family Law
- Labor and Employment Law
- Legal Theory
- Legal Writing
- Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law
- Public Service Law
- Technology and Intellectual Property Law
- Calendars and Schedules
- The Colorado Law Experience
- Courses and Registration
- Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program at Colorado Law
- Exam Procedures & Technology
- Executive Education
- Experiential Learning
- Graduation Requirements and Credit Caps
- Honor Code
- Learning Outcomes
- Mini Law School
- Public Service
- Rules of the Law School
- Study Abroad
- Transcripts and Forms
- Undergraduate Courses