Indian Law Week


NALSA’s signature events include An Evening with NALSA and Indian Law Week. This year, Indian Law Week will be held April 16-20, 2018. Our theme for 2018 is "Tribal Treaties Today: Rights, Culture & Sovereignty in Modern Society." 9 CLE credits (pending approval)

Tribal Treaties Today: Rights, Culture, & Sovereignty in Modern Society - April 16-20, 2018

Monday, April 16

Contemporary Treaty Hunting Rights
Room 101
12:00-1:00 p.m. 

1 pending CLE credit
Co-sponsored by the Public Land & Resources Law Review and the Environmental Law Group

“Contemporary Treaty Hunting Rights” will discuss the tribes in Montana’s ability to exercise their treaty hunting rights in the modern era. As demonstrated by the recent Yellowstone bison hunt, tribes are able to exercise such treaty rights in a varying capacity. Though each tribe’s signature to a treaty is different, each still retains traditional ties to culture, custom, and treaty rights.

  • John Harrison, Staff Attorney, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

    Mr. Harrison represents the CSKT before administrative, legislative and judicial forums mostly focusing on issues involving civil jurisdiction in Indian Country; environmental and natural resources law and policy; and treaty reserved rights. Mr. Harrison is barred in CSKT Court, the State of Montana, District of Montana, the Ninth Circuit, D.C. Circuit, and United States Supreme Court. 

Tuesday, April 17

A Promise of Health and General Welfare
Room 101
12:00-1:00 p.m. 

 1 pending CLE credit
Sponsored by the Rural Advocacy League

“A Promise of Health and General Welfare” will first discuss the history of Urban Indian Health and then dive into current issues. This discussion will be followed by a lecture on how prejudice and discrimination may make a person sick. These discussions are not only timely and relevant, but essential to understand and interpret the health and general welfare provisions of various treaties.

  • Gyda Swaney, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Director of the Indians Into Psychlogy (InPsych) Program, and member of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation

    Gyda Swaney, Ph.D. is the director of Indians Into Psychology (InPsych) Program, and Associate Professor with the Department of Psychology at the University of Montana. Dr. Swaney received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, as well as an MA in Clinical Psychology and a BA in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Montana. She has been awarded multiple research grants as co- Principal Investigator studying results of historical trauma, and mental health disparities, among other topics, among Native Americans in several areas of Montana, including the Blackfeet Reservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Reservation, Rocky Boys Reservation, and the urban Indian population in Missoula. Dr. Swaney has been the principal investigator for the InPsych program since 2001. She is the author of dozens of psychology publications, reports, manuals, and presentations.
  • Cherith Smith, Assistant Director of Experiential Education for the Skaggs School of Pharmacy

    Cherith has been the clinical pharmacy instructor for the Native American Center of Excellence (NACOE) at the University of Montana College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences since 2009. She is now the Assistant Director of Experiential Education for the Skaggs School of Pharmacy. Her work as a pharmacist at Missoula Urban Indian Health Center has provided clinical instruction, mentorship, and training opportunities for pharmacy students and other health profession students over the past eight and a half years. Involvement has included development, implementation, and delivery of team based clinical activities including immunization services, blood pressure screening and intervention, prescription assistance programs, tobacco cessation counseling services, community outreach, and disease state self-management programs affording pharmacy students a diverse training ground working with an underserved population. Cherith has been the MUIHC diabetes coordinator for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) Community-Directed Program grant since 2011 focusing on effective evidence-based intervention strategies for diabetes education in a community-based approach addressing specific local needs. She has, also, worked with the 4-in-1 grant since 2010 for Immunizations and Health Promotion/Disease Prevention services at MUIHC. 

Wednesday, April 18

Empowerment through Education
Room 101
12:00-1:00 p.m. 

1 pending CLE credit
Sponsored by the ACLU of Montana

This panel will begin by laying the important foundation of Indian education in this nation. It will then empower listeners by discussing a tribe’s efforts to turn the education provision, historically an avenue to assimilate, “on its head.” Listen to our panel reminisce, teach, and share knowledge, wisdom, and the legal history and context of one pioneering tribe in Montana.

  • Dr. George Price, Lecture, Depts. of Native American Studies and History and the African American Studies Program at the University of MontanaGeorge Price (Assonet band of the Wampanoag tribal nation of Massachusetts) has been living on the Flathead Indian Reservation and teaching since the Summer of 1985: 10 years at Two Eagle River School, 3 years at Salish Kootenai College, and at the University of Montana since 1998, in Native American Studies, History, and African American Studies.

    Dr. Price is also a board member and Environmental Issues Coordinator for Indian People’s Action of Montana and active in the food sovereignty movement. George will be retiring from academia at the end of this Spring semester and devoting the remainder of his life to Earth/Water protecting, organic farming, writing, and creating alternative societal structures.
  • Shelly Fyant, Councilwoman, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes from the Arlee District

    Shelly Fyant currently serves as a Tribal Councilwoman for the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes from the Arlee District. She obtained an Associate of Arts from Haskell in 1978 and later returned to the University of Montana to earn a Business Administration degree in in 1989. Ms. Fyant worked at Two Eagle River School in its early days in Dixon, worked as a Student Advocate/Mentor for the Ronan Schools and has served on the Arlee School Board, the Nkwusm (Salish Language Immersion School) Board and currently serves on the Two Eagle River School Board and Salish Kootenai College Foundation Board. She is an avid UM Griz football fan, a gardener and beader. Her spare time is spent in the mountains with family including her four sons. She is the proud grandmother to 7 grandchildren and most recently became a great grandmother.
  • Joyce Silverthorne, former Director of the Office of Indian Education

    Joyce Silverthorne, retired Director of the Office of Indian Education, USED, has spent 40 years as a teacher/administrator. A CSKT tribal member and great-grandmother of fourteen, Indian education has been a core concern. At home she has been involved with many aspects of education from early childhood through college. At a state level, she was a Superintendent Juneau’s Council of the Montana OPI and a gubernatorial appointee to the MT Board of Public Education for 10 years. She is a lifetime member of NIEA and served as a presidential appointee to NACIE. During her ten-year term as TED Director for CSKT, she served as part of the founding team for TEDNA. The education of American Indian youth and Indian Education for All (IEFA) has seen dramatic change in the last 50 years, and the revitalization of our languages continues to fuel our understanding of tradition education practices that are still vital.
  • Dr. Kathryn Shanley

    Kathryn W. Shanley is a Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana-Missoula, and also works as the Special Assistant to the Provost for Native American and Indigenous Education. She has published widely in the field of Native American literature, most notably on the work of Blackfeet / Gros Ventre writer James Welch. Recently, Dr. Shanley has published several articles on Ojibwe writer Gerald Vizenor. She co-edited Mapping Indigenous Presence in 2014, and currently co-edits (with Ned Blackhawk) the Yale University Press Henry Roe Cloud American Indians and Modernity series. Dr. Shanley served as president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association from 2011 – 2013, and has served as a Regional Liaison for the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program. She is an enrolled Nakoda from the Ft. Peck Reservation.

Thursday, April 19

Blackfeet Beaver and Other Opportunities in Natural Resources Management and Sovereignty
Room 201
5:00-7:00 p.m.

2 pending CLE credits
Co-sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation & 2018 International Wildlife Film Festival

"The Blackfeet (Amskapi Piikani) have long believed that we are the caretakers of the land and resources where we have resided for many thousands of years. To this day, we use this land for spritual and cultural purposes. The Blackfeet Nation strives to retain its culture in this modern era where impacts to our world are changing, and we recognize we must adapt."

-Harry Bames, Chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council

As part of a climate adaptation plan, the Blackfeet Department of Fish and Wildlife is working with beavers to increase natural water storage in wetlands and riparian areas. This panel will explore the cultural importance of beavers to the Blackfeet people and how traditional knowledge is informing modern climate adaptation and restoration strategies, within a larger context of tribal treaty rights and sovereignty.

  • Rosalyn LaPier; Associate Prof. Envtl. Studies and Blackfeet member

    Rosalyn is an award winning Indigenous writer and ethnobotanist with a BA in physics and PhD in environmental history. She studies the intersection of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) learned from elders and the academic study of environmental and religious history. As an activist she advocates for both Indigenous peoples rights and science-based decision making. She was one of the organizers of the March for Science, the largest day of science advocacy in history, with over one million participants in 600 cities worldwide. She co-authored the Indigenous Science Statement. Rosalyn is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana and a Research Associate at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. She received the 2018 George M. Dennison Presidential Faculty Award for Distinguished Accomplishment at the University of Montana.
  • Dylan DesRosier; Blackfeet Reservation Land Protection Specialist for the Nature Conservancy
  • Dona Rutherford; Director of the Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife Department
  • Kim Paul; Climate Change Coordinator, Blackfeet Environmental Office 

An Evening with NALSA: Awards Ceremony and Silent Auction
Second Floor Atrium
7:00-10:00 p.m.

$10 at the door

Awards ceremony and silent auction

  • Elouise Cobell Award - an individual that demonstrates a strong commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of American Indian people and interests through a recognized spirit of generosity.
  • Mi-Ha-Ka-Ta-Kis [Ray Cross] award – an individual (preferably a UM Alum) that has used her or his legal training to advocate for American Indian people, American Indian issues and tribal sovereignty.
  • NALSA Teaching Award - A professor who made the effort to significantly incorporate Indian law concepts throughout her or his teaching.

Friday, April 20 - Mary Frances Garrigus Day*

Who is an “Indian”? Disenrollment & Membership
Room 219, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

4 pending CLE credits
Co-sponsored by the Native American Studies Department & Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department

Tribes hold a unique relationship with their members, the federal government, and each other. Part of what makes a tribe sovereign is their ability to decide who is a member, but the federal government also has a say. Is blood quantum a racial component? Is federal Indian law subject to equal protection challenges? Join the Native American Law Student Association for a panel of academics, tribal members, and activists, facilitated by Professor Maylinn Smith.

  • David Wilkins, Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota

    David E. Wilkins is a citizen of the Lumbee Nation and holds the McKnight Presidential Professorship in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. He has adjunct appointments in Political Science, Law, and American Studies. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill in December, 1990.

    He is the author or editor of a number of books, including Dismembered: Native Disenrollment and the Battle for Basic Human Rights (with Shelly Hulse Wilkins, 2017); Hollow Justice: Indigenous Claims Against the U.S. (2013); The Navajo Political Experience, 4th ed. (2013); The Hank Adams Reader (2011), The Legal Universe (with Vine Deloria, Jr., 2011), and Documents of Native American Political Development: 1533 to 1933 (2009). His articles have appeared in a range of social science, law, history, and ethnic studies journals.
  • Shelly Hulse Wilkins, Partner, Wilkins Forum

    Shelly Wilkins is a Partner with the Wilkins Forum, a firm specializing in issues regarding Tribal governance and Tribal/State relations. She is a former Program Principal for the State-Tribal Institute at the National Conference of State Legislatures and Senior Policy Analyst for the Washington State Legislature, where she specialized in capital budget, economic development and Tribal/State issues. With her husband and partner, David Wilkins, she co-authored Dismembered: Native Disenrollment and the Battle for Human Rights and was a co-contributor to The Great Vanishing Act: Blood Quantum and the Future of Native Nations, edited by Kathleen Ratteree and Norbert Hill.
  • Angela Russell, former Chief Judge of the Crow Nation

    Angela Russell is a member of the Crow Tribe and has lived the majority of her life on the Crow Indian Reservation. She received her BA from the University of MT, a Master of Social Work degree from Tulane University, and a JD from University of MT Law School. She is semi-retired and currently works as a lawyer representing clients in civil and criminal matters and the Crow Tribe (Elk River Law Office) in child welfare matters, all in the Crow Tribal Court. On occasion, she is asked to represent minors as a Guardian Ad Litem. Angela’s early professional experiences include work as a child welfare worker in Yellowstone County, Billings, to providing private psychotherapy and consulting. She received a National Association of Public Interest Law Fellowship with MT Legal Services. She previously served as Chief Judge for the Crow Tribal Court. Angela served four terms in the MT State Legislature and one term with the first Crow Tribal Legislature. She currently serves as a member of the MT Board of Crime Control, is a founding member of Big Sky+, and recently was appointed to the American Baptist Churches USA Board of Directors. She continues with numerous other civic and community activities.
  • Robert Hall, language teacher

    Robert Hall is ṗiik̇ǔni and loves it. Born and raised on the Blackfeet Reservation. He speaks Blackfoot quite well and also plays a mean guitar. He currently works at Browning Public Schools ad the Blackfeet Native American Studies Director, Adjunct Instructor at the Blackfeet Community College, and board member of the āasāisst•ṫǒ Language Society. You can find Robert most days on the Blackfeet Rez just outside of Browning with a group of Rez dogs, a few cats, and maybe a guitar walking around his families land.

    Robert will discuss the fragility of using race as a criteria for tribal membership and the paradox and internal racism it creates within a tribe. That we keep track of Blood more meticulously than anything else in Indian county- that it over steps all the important aspects that make a people sovereign and reduces our sovereignty to pseudo-science and open racism. Ultimately how Blood politics reinforces racism and racialism despite the fact that race is nonexistent genetically but a reality politically and legally.
  • Hunter Genia, Council member, Saginaw, Swan Creek, and Black River Bands of Chippewa

    Hunter Genia, LMSW, is a council member for the Saginaw, Swan Creek, and Black River Bands of Chippewa. He is also Ottawa from the Grand River Bands. He has been working in the Behavioral Health field for over 28 consecutive years in Indian Country. He earned his Master of Social Work degree from Grand Valley State University. He has served in the prevention field working with youth, a former clinical mental health director, a former administrator for an inpatient/outpatient tribal behavioral health facility and provides consultation services in the social work field and enjoys being a resource for various tribes, health care organizations, and institutions both on a federal, state level and local community level. He provided testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs addressing mental health disparity in Indian Country.
  • Facilitator: Maylinn Smith, Co-Director of the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic

    Maylinn Smith is the Co-Director of the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic at the University of Montana, Alexander Blewett III School of Law. For more than two decades she has supervised third year law students in the Indian Law Clinic working on a variety of legal projects for tribal governments, organizations and individuals. In addition to handling litigation involving Indian issues in tribal, state or federal courts, the Indian Law Clinic drafts tribal codes; provides training to tribal justice systems, federal agencies and Indian organizations on requirements and procedures in accordance with Indian law principles; assists with tribal economic development; represents parties in Indian Child Welfare Act matters and comments on legislation at the tribal, state and federal level. She has acted, or is currently acting, as an appellate judge for the Blackfeet Nation, Fort Peck Tribes, Crow Nation and the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals. She previously was Chief Judge of the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Court, legal advisor for the Salish & Kootenai Tribal Court and did private practice work. She recently established and is currently seeking funding for the Louise Burke Center for Holistic Representation to provide direct representation to American Indian people. 


*Mary Frances Garrigus is the first Native American woman to graduate from the University of Montana's School of Law. Born in 1891, Mary Frances Garrigus attended Billings High School, then the University of Montana, graduating from the law school in 1918.