More than 300 Guests attend OU Law's "Tribal Sovereignty: A Global Perspective" Symposium

March 5, 2014 | By Jessica Jones

The University of Oklahoma College of Law, American Indian Law Review, and OU Native American Studies Department were privileged to host world-renowned speakers last week at the “Tribal Sovereignty:  A Global Perspective”  Symposium.

Hundreds of people from all over the United States filled The University of Oklahoma College of Law’s Bell Courtroom to attend the Symposium.  The keynote speaker for this event was Jose Francisco Calí Tzay (Maya Kaqchikel), Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).  Cali is currently serving his third 4-year term as an expert member of the committee, and with his election as Chairperson last month became the first indigenous person in history to chair a UN treaty monitoring body.  Cali discussed the international legal system and the different roles indigenous representatives can play in international organizations, including those that focus on developing instruments on the rights of indigenous peoples. 

OU Law is at the forefront of global developments in indigenous peoples law.  As Dean Joe Harroz noted in his welcoming remarks,  “Native American Law is central to our strategic vision and an integral part of our curriculum.  As the leader in this important area, it is appropriate that OU Law serve as the host of a symposium focused on the issues faced by indigenous peoples at the regional and international levels.  We are truly honored to host these extraordinary world leaders.”

Other featured speakers included George Tiger, Principal Chief, Muscogee (Creek) Nation; Dr. James Collard, Director of Planning and Economic Development, Citizen Potawatomie Nation; an OU Native American Studies Council of Fire;  Professor Dinah Shelton, George Washington University Law School, and former member, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Armstrong Wiggins (Miskito), Director, Washington, D.C. office, Indian Law Resource Center; Neha Sheth, Attorney-Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State; and Professor Dieter Dörr, Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.

This is the third year OU has hosted this Symposium and it is one of the largest in the United States.  In addition to the international and regional issues indigenous people face, speakers also focused on the ability of indigenous peoples to assert their rights at the United Nations and the Organization of American States and the ability of tribes to engage economically on an international level.

Participants also had the opportunity to view the James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection, one of the most important private collections of Native American art in the United States, which is displayed throughout the OU College of Law.

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