Course Schedule

The Law of People and Place: The Missouri River Breaks

We're offering a new place-based experiential learning opportunity this summer! Profs. Michelle Bryan and Monte Mills will lead a seven-day field course on the Upper Missouri River and American Prairie Reserve July 13-19, 2020.

This course will be taught in partnership with the Freeflow Institute, a Montana-based collaborative offering structured, professionally catered trips in wild spaces. Freeflow helps to infuse academic courses with creative outdoor learning.

Space is limited, and applications are due no later than May 1, 2020. Find details on how to apply on our registration page.

Read more in the class description below.

Missouri River


Instructor TBA
Alexander Blewett III School of Law
University of Montana

Indian Law Research:

Because tribes are sovereign governments, the field of Indian Law encompasses distinct legal issues and legal sources. Researching both federal Indian law (the law of the relationship between tribal governments and the U.S. government) and tribal law (the law of individual tribes) requires an additional set of tools and research skills to those students are introduced to in a basic legal research course. In this course, students will learn the skills and sources necessary to research general Indian law issues as well as the very specialized skills and sources used in researching the legal history of a tribe, including reserved treaty rights. The course will cover researching treaties, Indian land claims, statutory and case law, and tribal law. Students will actively participate in creating a tribal legal history throughout the course.

Remote instruction

Professor Kekek Jason Stark
Alexander Blewett III School of Law
University of Montana

Mastering American Indian Law:

This course looks at fundamental aspects of American Indian law and provides a basic understanding of core Indian law principles, both on the federal and tribal level. The course familiarizes participants with the development of foundational concepts in the area of Indian law and addresses the continuing impact of federal legislation and court actions on tribal governance structures and principles of sovereignty. In addition to providing substantive information on legal principles associated with American Indian law, participants will engage in practical skill building exercises that build upon the substantive materials being covered.

Remote instruction

Professor Monte Mills
Alexander Blewett III School of Law
University of Montana

Relations between Indian tribes and states have raised complex legal and policy questions since before America’s founding. While the federal government’s trust relationship with Indian tribes is the central focus of Federal Indian Law, the on-the-ground relationships between tribal governments and their state counterparts often define the day-to-day challenges facing lawyers and policy-makers working on their behalf. This course provides a basis for understanding why tribes and states may be “deadliest enemies,” “mutually beneficial,” or something in between while exploring tribal-state relations in a range of substantive policy areas, including civil and criminal jurisdiction, treaty-related natural resources issues, gaming, taxation, and child welfare. The class concludes with a forum of tribal and state officials discussing current issues in relations between Montana and the tribes located within the state’s boundaries.

Remote instruction

Professor Matthew Fletcher
Michigan State University School of Law

The Law and Policy of Tribal Authority and Jurisdiction:

The scope of the powers of Indian tribes is the fundamental question of American Indian law.

No classes June 29-July 3.

This event may be canceled.

Celebrate the 122nd Annual Arlee Powwow Esyapqeyni (Celebration) on July 1-5, 2020, at the Arlee Powwow Grounds in Arlee, Montana. The Arlee Powwow Esyapqeyni is the premier annual celebration of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribes sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Nation. the event features traditional dance competitions, singing and drumming and a big Fourth of July parade. There are also many vendors selling handmade beaded crafts and food.

Remote instruction

Professors Kathryn R.L. Rand & Steven Andrew Light
University of North Dakota

Indian Gaming Law and Policy

This class reviews federal statutes, regulations, and case law pertaining to Indian gaming issues.  Participants will learn about contemporary issues affecting Indian gaming, the gaming regulation system and the compacting process.

Professors Michelle Bryan and Monte Mills
Alexander Blewett III School of Law
University of Montana

The Law of People and Place:  The Missouri River Breaks

Missouri River Field Course (in conjunction with Freeflow Institute)

Traverse the culture, geography, and law of the Wild & Scenic Missouri River corridor with this inaugural summer field course, operated in partnership with the Freeflow Institute. Participants in “The Law of People and Place: The Missouri River Breaks” will experience a seven-day outdoor adventure canoeing on the Missouri River (Fort Benton to Judith Landing), plus stay at the American Prairie Reserve, all while learning about natural resources and Indian law in the context of an iconic western landscape.

Students will learn about some of the key laws governing the Upper Missouri River and its environs, including the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, national monument laws, rangelands laws, wildlife refuge laws, and the laws governing tribal sovereignty. Background readings drawn from history, policy, and ecology, as well as the Lewis & Clark Expedition journals, will provide a place-based context for our discussions. Aside from the law school faculty, students will hear from tribal representatives, ranchers, conservationists, federal and state land managers, and other stakeholders involved in management of this ecosystem. Themes explored will include pipeline and mining impacts on tribes, bison conservation in ranching country, balancing cultural protection and resource use, wildlife management in a working landscape.

Fort Benton - July 13
River Float through the Missouri Breaks to Judith Landing - July 14-17
American Prairie Reserve - July 17-19
Return to Missoula - July 19

See the full itinerary on the Freeflow Institute's website.

Register early because space is limited to 12 students. Registration is subject to instructor approval, based on review of the applicant’s essay describing his/her interest in the course.

The projected fee of $1,325 includes the class and associated academic credits as well as food, transportation and guides. Additional student funding may further reduce this fee. Fundraising efforts are currently underway. At this point in time the field course is not canceled. Should social distancing requirements remain in place for the dates of this course, we plan to deliver the course in an online format, covering the same course topics and themes virtually, with featured public lands and tribal guests. The $500 deposit will be refunded if the course is cancelled or converted to an online course due to COVID-19. Otherwise, the deposit is non-refundable.

Attorney participation in this field course may be available, depending on the number of qualifying students. CLE credits have not yet been calculated for the course, and the fee for CLE participants has yet to be determined.

To apply for this field course, send a statement of interest to, and you will be provided with a link to submit your essay of not more than 500 words. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.

Any student enrolled in this course and wishing to use financial aid should complete the School of Extended and Lifelong Learning Agreement with Financial Aid form and meet with the staff in the Financial Aid Office. This form allows students to clarify with Financial Aid the non-tuition fees associated with self-supported courses.

Remote instruction

Professor Kate Fort
Michigan State University School of Law

American Indian Children and the Law

American Indian Children and the Law focuses on the specific legal issues facing American Indian children in the United States. Much of the focus will be on the implementation, interpretation, and understanding of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  ICWA, a federal statute interpreted almost entirely in state courts, applies to all terminations of parental rights if the child involved is an Indian child under the law’s definition. Congress passed this law was passed in 1978 in response to the overwhelming numbers of Indian children in foster care and adopted away from their tribes and families.  However, the course will also address issues in state welfare systems, the history of Native children and state actors, and current tribal social service practices.