The University of Tulsa College of Law offers both JD and LLM students a wide variety of courses related to Indian law, designed to give a firm grounding in the three aspects of Indian law: tribal law, federal Indian law, and the international law relating to indigenous peoples. The number and variety of classes gives students unparalleled options in designing their course of study.
We have included below the full course descriptions for all the specialized Indian law courses, as well as a listing of the related law and related non-law courses.
Specialized Indian Law Courses:
Federal Indian Law (3 credits)
This course presents the basic doctrines and historical underpinnings of federal Indian law, including the history of federal Indian policy, the foundations of tribal sovereignty, the federal role in Indian affairs, and the interplay of federal, tribal, and state authority in Indian country. Students study the sources of and limitations on federal power over Indians and Indian tribes; the sources of and federal restraints on tribal governmental authority; the various areas in which tribal governments exercise authority, such as criminal jurisdiction, judicial jurisdiction, regulatory jurisdiction, and jurisdiction over tribal affairs; and state claims to power over both Indian tribes and non-Indians who live or work within Indian country.
Native American Natural Resources Law (3 credits)
This course concentrates on tribal interests in land, resources, and the environment. In addition to a brief overview of the basic doctrines of federal Indian law, the course covers the First Amendment and the protection of sacred sites; the legal concept of Indian country; the various kinds of tribal title to lands, including tribal rights to submerged lands and allotted lands; tribal and state roles in land use and environmental protection; the development of natural resources such as minerals, timber, and grazing lands; federal, tribal, and state taxation of land and resources; tribal water rights; treaty-reserved rights to hunt and fish; and international approaches to indigenous land, environment, and resource issues.
Tribal Government (3 credits)
This course focuses on an in-depth examination of the traditional and modern forms of tribal government, and a comparison of those forms of government with the American legal and political system. During the course, the traditional and modern forms of several tribal governmental entities are studied, with students making presentations to the class about the traditional and modern forms of government used by one assigned Tribe and one Tribe of the student's choice. In addition, students have the opportunity to attempt to operate a traditional form of tribal government during the class. Materials used include tribal constitutions, statutes, and case law as well as the federal law impacting the current operations of tribal government.
American Indian Law Seminar (2-3 credits)
The seminar provides an advanced study of federal and tribal law with an emphasis on tribal courts and jurisdiction. It examines the jurisdiction, power and authority of tribal courts, as well as the development of tribal common law. Students will write and present a substantial, publishable-quality paper on a topic related either to tribal courts or to tribal governments.
Native American and Indigenous Rights (3 credits)
This course is an advanced study of the impact of international law in the development on federal Indian law and the international legal developments which affect Indigenous Peoples who find themselves within the borders of the nation-states. The course will survey international law affecting Indigenous Peoples from the days of early thinkers such as Vattel, Grotius, Locke, and Chief Justice Marshall through recent international thinking concerning Indigenous Peoples as reflected in the United Nations Draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Labor Organization Convention 169, and others.
Indian Gaming Law (3 credits)
This course offers the student an overview of the law and process of Federal regulation of Indian gaming. In addition the course will review the power and authority delegated to the National Indian Gaming Commission, including the agency exercising rulemaking and adjudicative power.
Protection of Minority and Indigenous Cultures (2-3 credits)
Taught on an occasional basis, this course explores the role law should play in resolving disputes between the dominant US national culture and discrete minority and indigenous groups; and the extent to which the dominant culture is obligated to respect and protect the minority cultures that exist within the same borders. The course covers topics such as cultural defenses, cultural property, access to sacred sites, intellectual property protection for indigenous knowledge, mascots, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Tribal Economic Development (2-3 credits)
Taught on an occasional basis, this course examines the laws and strategies relating to economic development in Indian country. It explores a variety of business models and ventures, not just gaming.
Native American Law Moot Court Competition (up to 2 credits)
Each year, The University of Tulsa College of Law sends at least one, and usually two, teams to represent the school at the annual National NALSA Moot Court Competition. The students chosen for the national teams may earn up to two credit hours for their participation.
LLM Thesis Seminar (3-12 credits)
LLM candidates who elect to pursue the research track are expected to write a thesis exploring some aspect of Indian or Indigenous Peoples law. Candidates will develop their proposal in conjunction with the program directors and will write a substantial paper on their chosen topic. The format and length of the paper will depend on the topic chosen and whether the candidate is pursuing the research or the academic track. Each semester, students enrolled in thesis hours will meet with the Center faculty for a monthly roundtable discussion of their thesis.
Related Law Courses:
Of course, the practice of Indian law is not just limited to specialized areas. Indians, Indian tribes, and those who work with and for them must also be aware of a number of different issues - everything from employment law to real estate transactions to non-profit law. One of the hallmarks of the TU Native American law program is that we provide you the opportunity to take the broad range of courses you need to successfully work in this area. TU offers a substantial number of courses related to Indian law, including:
- Administrative Law
- Basic Corporate Law
- Basic Oil and Gas
- Comparative law
- Conflict of Laws
- Employment Law
- Environmental Law
- Federal Courts
- Independent Study
- Intellectual Property
- International Business Transactions
- International Energy and Natural Resources Law
- International Environmental Law
- International Law
- Interviewing, Counseling & Negotiation
- Introduction to Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Land Use Controls
- Natural Resources: Public Lands
- Real Estate Transactions
- Water Law
Related Non-Law Courses:
With the written approval of the student's advisor and one other NALC Co-Director, students (both JD and LLM) are permitted to take a limited number of non-law courses. In the past, these courses have included:
- The Politics of Cultural Representation
- Environmental Ethics
- Issues in Native American Preservation
- American Society: A Multicultural Approach
- North American Indians
- History of Oklahoma
- Indians in American History
- The Old West
- Communicating Across Cultures
- Native Americans and the Popular Imagination