NALSA Indian Law Week 2018 Celebrates Treaties, Sovereignty, Tribes

The Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana hosted the 17th Indian Law Week from Monday, April 16 to Friday, April 20. Each day, NALSA organized and presented a number of continuing legal education (CLE) panels focusing on tribal treaty rights, health care, education, environmental, and membership issues. For the first time in the event’s history, Friday was designated Mary Frances Garrigus Day, a new tradition that will continue for future Indian Law Weeks. Ms. Garrigus, a member of the Crow Tribe/Apsaalooke Nation, graduated in 1918 and is the first known American Indian women to obtain her degree from this law school.

Monday through Wednesday, NALSA co-sponsored with the law school’s Public Land & Resources Law Review and the Environmental Law Group, the Rural Advocacy League, and the ACLU of Montana to bring one-hour discussions dedicated to treaty hunting rights, health and general welfare, and education, respectively. On Thursday, a longer evening panel was co-sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and presented in conjunction with the International Wildlife Film Festival. This panel brought together representatives from the Blackfeet Nation to discuss the cultural importance of beaver and efforts impacting restoration and preservation of beaver and its habitat in the Crown of the Continent area. Presenters also discussed opportunities for possible partnerships between the Law School’s Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic and Tribes to work on codes and regulations relating to land use, range protection, and economic development issues.

In addition to the CLE panels, NALSA hosted its annual Evening with NALSA fundraiser on Thursday night. This year’s celebration again brought together NALSA’s students, alumni, and supporters to raise money for the student group and recognize those who contribute to the practice and study of Indian law issues. The evening included recognition of this year’s National NALSA Moot Court teams, including law school second year students Summer Carmack and Hailey Forcella, who made the elite eight in the 26th Annual Competition held in March at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University in Phoenix. In addition, the 2018 Mi-Ha-Ka-Ta-Kis Award, named for Montana Law Professor Ray Cross, was given to D. Michael Eakin, a Billings attorney whose work involved a number of significant Indian law cases in tribal, Montana’s and the federal court systems.

Professor Andrew King-Ries received the Teaching Award in recognition of his work to bring Indian law into his criminal law courses and his efforts to recruit and support Native American students.

The night also included the dedication of a star quilt in memory of former School of Law student Marshall Pablo, who departed life too soon in 2016 as a second year law student. The star quilt and its accompanying plaque now hang in the law school’s atrium, both as a tribute to Marshall and an inspiration to current and future law students. Anyone wishing to donate to the Marshall Pablo Scholarship Fund may do so through the UM Foundation by designating their gift to go to this scholarship.

An annual event organized and run by NALSA students, Indian Law Week coincides with the University’s Kyiyo Pow Wow. This year, NALSA coordinated with and received support from the Indian Law Section of the Montana Bar, American Indian Business Leaders, and the Native American Studies Department to support the Indian Law week events. Donations for Evening with NALSA, sponsorships for the educational CLE events during Indian Law Week, and suggestions for next year’s Indian Law Week theme can be made at any time by contacting NALSA. The Alexander Blewett III School of Law chapter of NALSA also welcomes general donations at any time.

Kim Paul discusses the intersection of legal and agricultural issues on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Kim Paul discusses the intersection of legal and agricultural issues on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
UM Facilities hang the Marshall Pablo Memorial Star Quilt for its dedication at Evening with NALSA.
UM Facilities hang the Marshall Pablo Memorial Star Quilt for its dedication at Evening with NALSA