Native American Law specialty opens prestigious doors for TU law student
Friday, December 05, 2008
Published on 12/5/08
Nathan Mendenhall developed his interest in Native American Law while taking an undergraduate class at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. The class traced the historic Western survey made by Lewis and Clark and their interaction with Native American tribes in the Western United States.
Mendenhall found his way to The University of Tulsa College of Law principally because of its strong Native American Law program.
With the encouragement of professors, Mendenhall entered a paper entitled “Tracking 25 U.S.C. Section 2719: IGRA Exceptions to Indian Gaming on Newly Acquired Lands” in a national writing competition. The paper was selected by the International Association of Gaming Advisors, and he was awarded one of two Shannon Bybee Scholarships. The other recipient was a student from Harvard Law School.
This accomplishment would cap a very successful year for many law students. Mendenhall, however, has built further on his success and accepted an internship with the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for the Fall 2008 session.
Mendenhall was selected out of over 3,000 applicants to serve as the single intern for this Forum. The Forum is located at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
He finds the work challenging and very interesting. Mendenhall’s duties have included work on treaties – both in their implementation as well as monitoring the party’s adherence to completed treaties. He also is vetting the Second Decade of Indigenous Peoples grant applications to the United Nations, as well as working on other issues affecting indigenous peoples across the world.
Mendenhall credits his success to three of his Indian Law professors who have mentored and encouraged him during his studies at TU’s Native Law Program: Professors G. William Rice, Melissa Tatum and Judith Royster.
Although Mendenhall is enjoying his internship, he said he is anxious to return to Tulsa to complete his degree in the near future. He even asked several questions about the bar exam, that dragon which eventually lurks in the minds of all 3Ls.