Universities to offer online Indian law classes

08/24/2011 10:49 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla.— In collaboration between the University of Tulsa College of Law and the online Concord Law School of Kaplan University, students will be able to take online classes for a Master’s degree program that focuses on Indian law.

“This came together when a few years ago I decided that my law school, Concord, really needed to be teaching Indian Law courses,” said Professor Tim Pleasant, co-director. “There were a number of reasons why this was so. We needed to branch out within our law school, which is a relatively new school and we needed to reach out to a population that hadn’t been reached before so well.”

The TU College of Law is home to the Native American Law Center, which provides resources for the study and teaching of legal issues concerning Native American tribes and other indigenous peoples worldwide.

Starting on August 29, the 30 credit hour program will allow students to obtain an online Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law degree.

Some of the classes that are offered in the program include tribal gaming law, federal Indian Law, Indian Child Welfare Act, civil jurisdiction in Indian Country, tribal government, taxation, energy and mineral development, environmental protection and remediation, social services, water rights and federal contracting and contacting.

“So that way they would have a good working knowledge of some of the legal language used among the different organizations of businesses and government agencies that deal with doing business with Indians,” said Shonday Harmon, co-director of the program. “They would have an understanding of the legal landscape in Indian Country.”

The program is for graduate students, particularly those working in tribal governments and businesses and government agencies, who are interested in learning about Indian law. The program is for lawyers who would like to gain additional information or expand their practices.

“It’s the very first of its kind offering a master’s level degree in Indian Law,” said Harmon, who is Muscogee Creek. “This particular degree program is not for a student who would want to sit for the bar exam and become a practicing attorney, this is actually for someone who is more along the lines of a non-lawyer but may work in or around state, federal and tribal agencies.”

So far for the Fall 2011 semester there have been 19 applicants from 10 states for the program and 12 tribes are represented. Four out of the 19 that applied are non-Native.

“What we hope to accomplish is to provide this education in Indian law to allow people who are not lawyers but who have to work with it everyday to do a better job in whatever it is that they are doing,” Pleasant said. “There are just tons of people out there who have to interface with the legal system or with federal Indian law on some level, or with lawyers who are practicing these things, they have to do it everyday and the objective is to help those people do that job.”

For more information about the program visit www.indianlawmj.org.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000, ext. 6139
About the Author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter.    

In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.
TESINA-JACKSON@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 6139
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter. In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.


Senior Reporter
04/21/2015 08:13 AM
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Cherokee Nation citizen and University of Arkansas senior Taylor Martin has been named to the Arkansas Alumni Association’s first class of “Seniors of Significance.” The 22-year-old from Tontitown was expected to receive a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in May. She was among 71 graduating seniors, commemorating the university’s founding date of 1871, chosen from 400 nominees to receive the “Seniors of Significance” award. Each “Senior of Significance” received a special honor gold cord to wear during graduation. “I felt so honored to have even been nominated for this award, as many of my fellow students were just as qualified for it. I am so blessed to have received the award and it means the world to be able to represent our senior class with such an honor,” Martin said. The 71 students represent each Arkansas undergraduate academic college, 11 states and two countries. “These are exceptional seniors who combine academic achievement, leadership skills and substantial extracurricular campus and/or community activities,” stated a university press release. Martin said her experience at the university has been “incredible.” “My degree program has proved to be very demanding, but the community that I have been surrounded with through it all, faculty and students included, has made it so enjoyable,” she said. “I would have to say that the group of friends that I have made within my degree program has been one of the most memorable aspects of my time here at Arkansas. They have been there for me through thick and thin, and I wouldn't trade that for the world.” Her father, David Martin, said Taylor was the recipient of a CN scholarship for the past three years, which assisted her in covering the college expenses “she was 100 percent responsible for.” “The Cherokee Nation scholarship was a tremendous help for my college career. Between it and a university-sponsored scholarship, I was able to attend college and come out debt free, which is a blessing in itself,” she said. After graduation, she is expected to work for Wal-Mart’s Information Systems Division in Bentonville, where she said she would be part of an information technology program. Her father agreed with the words of Principal Chief Bill John Baker who recently wrote, “Our college scholarship recipients embody some of the most important values we hold as a tribe, including personal accountability and community and responsibility.” “I believe Taylor’s accomplishment demonstrates those values and understanding the necessity of a college education in order for one to realize a better quality of life and bright future for Cherokees,” David said.
04/16/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation is accepting applications for the Cherokee Scholars Program, which aims to help Cherokee students prepare for success in college. The deadline to apply is June 1. “The Cherokee Scholars program is a great way for students to earn extra money for college that is in addition to funds they can receive through the tribe and their scholarships,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said. “On top of challenging them academically, we also hold them accountable for keeping track of their progress and recording their achievement.” The program outlines a specific progression of academic coursework throughout high school in areas such as math, science, language arts and social studies. Students who successfully complete the Cherokee Scholars program earn funds to help alleviate the financial burden that comes with pursuing a higher education. There are two levels of achievement within the program: the Basic and the Prestigious. The Basic Cherokee Scholars Program allows students to earn up to $4,000 for their college education by fulfilling requirements including: four credits of English, three credits of math, three credits of basic lab science, 3.5 credits of social studies and two credits in the Cherokee language, foreign language or technology. Students interested in the Prestigious Cherokee Scholars Program must complete the requirements listed above as well as take an additional credit of math and basic lab science and complete a CN history course offered by the foundation. Students who successfully complete the Prestigious Cherokee Scholars Program have the potential to earn up to $8,000 to support their college education. To enroll in the Cherokee Scholars Program, students are required to be a CN citizen, have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be entering seventh, eighth or ninth grade. Applications can be found at <a href="http://www.cherokeenationfoundation.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>. For more information, contact Cherokee Nation Foundation at 918-207-0950 or Janice Randall <a href="mailto: atjr@cherokeenationfoundation.org">atjr@cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>.
04/12/2015 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – On April 2, the Department of the Interior announced it had transferred more than $12 million to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund, bringing the total amount transferred to $17 million. “With every transfer to the scholarship fund, we are making valuable investments in the training and education that Native students need to succeed in today’s world,” Interior Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor said. “This program is a lasting tribute to Elouise Cobell, whose vision, leadership and concern for tribal students and their families has created a living legacy for future generations of tribal leaders.” Authorized by the Cobell Settlement, and funded in part by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, the scholarship fund provides financial assistance through scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary and graduate education and training. “The department is thrilled that the Cobell Scholarship Fund is growing quickly so that Native students can pursue their academic dreams to go to college or graduate school,” Hilary Tompkins, DOI solicitor, said. “The expertise, abilities and skills these students gain can help to advance self- determination and shape future leaders in Indian Country.” The American Indian Graduate Center located in Albuquerque, New Mexico administers the scholarship fund, and the Cobell Board of Trustees oversees it. The Interior makes quarterly transfers to the fund as a result of Buy-Back Program sales, up to a total of $60 million. The amount contributed is based on a formula set forth in the Cobell Settlement that sets aside a certain amount of funding depending on the value of the fractionated interests sold. These contributions do not reduce the amount that an owner will receive for voluntarily consolidating their interests. The Buy-Back Program has paid more than $360 million to individual landowners and restored the equivalent of almost 570,000 acres of land to tribal governments. The Buy-Back Program was created to implement the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing landowners. Consolidated interests are transferred to tribal government ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal citizens.
Senior Reporter
04/10/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sequoyah High School senior Garrett Million has achieved his dream of studying and living in New York City. The 18-year-old from Tahlequah was recently accepted into New York University in New York City and was offered a $65,000 scholarship that is renewable for up to four years. He plans to study theater. “Part of the scholarship was going up and auditioning for their performing arts school. It’s a merit-based scholarship so they looked at my academics, my ACT (American College Testing) score and my audition and figured whether or not to give me a scholarship,” he said. Million auditioned in January in New York City after Tahlequah residents raised money for him to travel. “I had a lot of help from the community to help get me up there,” he said. At NYU he will work toward a bachelor’s degree in theater. He said after completing his degree, he hopes to work professionally as an actor or pursue a master’s degree in fine arts. Million said his interest in the performing arts “has always been there.” He said when he was younger he graduated from watching the children’s character Barney to watching “Gone With the Wind,” as well as admiring actors Meryl Streep and Daniel Day Lewis, who inspired him. He’s taken part in Sequoyah’s Drama Department productions of “Grease,” “Songs from the Silver Screen,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Beauty and the Beast.” This past Christmas he was in a variety show titled “Please Come Home for Christmas.” Also, he was just cast in “Spectacular, Spectacular,” the school’s final show of the year. “Garrett stood out his first year in the Drama Department. He had such a bubbly personality and such an eagerness to learn all he could about theater. He has taken my class every year since his freshman semester and every day brings something new,” SHS Drama Department teacher Amanda Ray said. “He keeps up with current events, theater-related news, is incredibly devoted to his studies in all of his classes and is just an all-around genuinely good person. With a student like Garrett, as a teacher I never feel like I’m forcing a student to accept information. It’s more like getting to have intelligent daily conversations.” Ray added that when Million decided to try for NYU’s theater program she was “ecstatic.” She said she believed in him and knew he had the talent, the grades and the determination, so she offered to help him with his auditions pieces and gave him encouragement. “Ms. Ray, she helped me realize and made me want to further my potential and helped me want to work harder and just really inspired me,” Million said. Ray said she always tries to be honest with students when she critiques their audition pieces. “With Garrett I know I’m watching the beginnings of what I know will be a marvelous career. I always tried to encourage him and to reinforce that it doesn’t matter that he’s coming from a small town and that there are hundreds of students auditioning for NYU every year, what matters is that he gives a truthful audition, that his talent is real and honest, and I think he accomplished that,” she said. “He is a role model for the younger drama students and has certainly set the bar high.” Million has also sung with the Cherokee National Youth Choir for three years and fulfilled his dream of visiting New York City two years ago when the choir sang in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “It’s great to have the opportunity to go up there and live for four years in the city that I love,” he said. His other interests include reading, serving on the SHS Student Council, speech/debate classes, Native storytelling and being in the school’s National Honor Society group. He also advises others who see his success at getting the NYU scholarship to not be afraid. “If you’re good at what you do and you want to work harder at it, really, just push forward regardless of anything,” he said.
04/09/2015 12:00 PM
STILWELL, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Child Development Center in Stilwell recently joined the Learn to Grow Program, which gives children the chance to maintain gardens and learn about healthy nutrition. Tomatoes, squash, bell peppers, okra and cucumbers will be grown in the gardens. Adair County is now the sixth county in the tribe’s jurisdiction to take part in the program, which is designed to serve Cherokee children in home provider facilities and daycares. There are currently more than 3,300 children who tend gardens within the tribe. The nine additional facilities added in Adair County bring the number of centers with gardens to 111. According to a CN press release, the nutrition program caught the attention of the White House when first lady Michelle Obama commended the CN this past fall. In a letter, she thanked the CN for promoting the health and wellness of its citizens through the program. “If we can teach these young kids that playing in the dirt is not only fun, but can also yield healthy and nutritious food, then that is a wonderful lesson,” said Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden. “There’s a saying that I like, ‘Being on my knees and digging in the garden dirt brings me closer to God.’ Cherokee Nation’s Learn to Grow effort has so many lifelong benefits for our young and impressionable citizens that can help nourish them in body and soul.” The Learn to Grow Program is set in place to encourage youth to go outdoors and become interested in gardening and ultimately eating healthier. According to the release, all Learn to Grow project facilities receive training, two garden beds full of soil and multiple varieties of seeds, including summer and fall vegetables. Once ripe, the providers use the produce to prepare meals for the children. “The Learn to Grow project is in its third year, and it is so exciting to see the children in their gardens,” project coordinator Lisa Evans said. “There is so much research that shows the health benefits the children are gaining from the gardening experience, while also increasing the likelihood of healthier eating now and in future for our children throughout Cherokee Nation.” The CDC in Stilwell serves up to 90 children in the summer months. The CN partners with the Department of Human Services Child Care Licensing, Oklahoma State University Extension Office, Native American Association of Ketchum and other various groups for the Learn to Grow initiative. For more information, call 918-253-4219.
04/09/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Career Services is accepting applications for its free and paid Fast Track Welding Certification Apprenticeship Program. The course is for individuals interested in making a career out of welding. Marvin Courville, a citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes, is the course instructor who was finishing his first Tahlequah-based class in April. Courville, a certified welding inspector, said he can certify people in the field and that the course is a way to get more people certified in welding. “What we’re trying to do is get the skill levels of these potential certified welders up to the standards of AWS, which is the American Welding Society, so that we can test them and certify them to the AWS certification,” he said. Courville said the course is hands-on and labor intensive. He added that the training is the first of its kind with ironworkers and the CN coming together. CN citizen Seth Alsenay, 19, is a course participant who would one day like to weld on big structural buildings. “I’ve always been interested in welding. I’ve always been interested in the union and this opportunity came up and I took it,” he said. “I love welding. That’s what I want to do.” Alsenay said he has been welding for approximately five years, and if the opportunity came up, he would like to work for the CN as a welder. To participate in the course participants must pass a drug test; be on time to class and ready to learn; commit to a 10-week course with attendance being mandatory; and be able to read, write and follow instructions. Applicants must also be self-employed and without work due to general economic conditions in the community. They must provide legal documents that prove they were self-employed, such as a tax form that was filed. Applicants must be a dislocated worker who has been laid off or has received a documentation notice of their layoff. Participants are not required to be Native American to take part in the class. The next 10-week course was expected to begin April 28 at the Local Ironworkers Union 584 in Tulsa. For more information, call Linda Sacks at 918-574-2749, Christy Stites at 918-342-7450 or Charbrice Evans at 918-825-7988.