American Indian Law Review Symposium to Center on Environmental Issues

March 16, 2017 | By Mackenzie Dilbeck, Director of Communications

Media Contact: 
Mackenzie A. Dilbeck
(405) 325-2227

NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma College of Law will host the American Indian Law Review’s annual Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium Friday, March 24. This year’s theme is “Oil and Water.” The Symposium is co-sponsored in partnership with the University of Oklahoma’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department. The event will begin at 10:00 a.m. in the Dick Bell Courtroom in Andrew M. Coats Hall.

Experts of Native American environmental issues will sit on two panels and give two keynote addresses. The speakers and their topics include:

  • Morning Panel: “The Chickasaw-Choctaw Compact in Context”
    • Sarah Hill, senior assistant attorney general, Cherokee Nation
    • Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law
  • Morning Keynote: “Water Sovereignty and Stewardship: The Historic Chickasaw-Choctaw Water Settlement”
    • Stephen Greetham, chief general counsel and special counsel on water and natural resources, Chickasaw Nation
    • Michael Burrage, managing partner, Whitten Burrage Law Firm
  • Afternoon Panel: “Justice and Juxtaposition: Environmental Justice and Protest in Parallel”
    • Taiawagi Helton, professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law
    • Kristen van de Biezenbos, associate professor of law, University of Oklahoma College of Law
  • Afternoon Keynote: “The Impact of Fracking on Indian Nations: A Case Study”
    • Walter Echo-Hawk, of counselCrowe & Dunlevy


“This year’s Indigenous Peoples, Law, and Power Symposium builds upon several dedicated events we have held this year, all of which have focused on the intersection of Native American rights and environmental law,” said OU College of Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. “We are honored to host these discussions on such important issues and we’re pleased to have the partnership of OU’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Native American Studies Department as we do so.”

In December 2015, the OU Board of Regents unanimously voted to elevate Native American Studies from a program to department status at the request of OU President David L. Boren. Since 1994, OU’s Native American Studies focus has attracted and served students of diverse backgrounds who are committed to using distinctly Native American perspectives to place the sovereignty of Native nations and the cultures of Native peoples at the center of academic study. In addition to a graduate certificate in American Indian Social Work, the Department offers bachelor’s, master’s, and joint M.A./J.D. degrees.

“This is our sixth year to co-host this special event,” said Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw), chair of the Native American Studies Department and director of the newly established Native Nations Center. “Our partnership grows out of our joint M.A./J.D. program, which makes all of our students uniquely competitive. This year’s Symposium topic is of critical importance to Native nations and communities. The subject matter is dear to our hearts as it impacts our lands as well as our political and cultural identities.”

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