Correction: A previous headline for this story erroneously stated that the University of Oklahoma College of Law is the first to create a Native American endowed chair. It is the first endowed chair of its kind associated with a full-time, permanent faculty position.
More than 20 law schools offer centers or programs focused on Indian Law, but the University of Oklahoma College of Law is poised to become the first with an endowed chair specifically for Native American law.
The Chickasaw Nation, which is headquartered in Oklahoma and has about 50,000 members, has donated $1 million to the law school to create the endowed chair. The new, full-time faculty position will be called the Chickasaw Nation Endowed Chair, and law school administrators hope it will draw the interest of Indian law scholars from around the country.
“The Chickasaw Nation’s generous gift underlines the leadership of the OU College of Law in Native American Law,” said University President David Boren in an announcement of the gift. “We are deeply grateful to [Chickasaw Nation] Governor Bill Anoatubby and the Chickasaw Nation for their remarkable commitment and transformative gift that further enhances the college’s national and international reputation in this field.”
Law dean Joseph Harroz Jr. said that administrators researched faculty positions at other law schools and found no existing endowed chairs in Native American law for permanent faculty.
The law school already offers an LL.M in indigenous people’s law, and this year launched a new online masters program for nonlawyers in indigenous people’s law. Additionally, juris doctor students can obtain a certificate in American Indian law. The school is also home to the Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy.
“What we’re very proud of is that we have a very robust program that includes relationships with many tribes,” Harroz said.
About 40 percent of the student body takes at least one Native American law course, and the school boasts the highest average enrollment of Native American students over the past decade. Native American students make up 11 percent of this year’s incoming class.
The Chickasaw Nation is the 12th largest federally recognized Indian tribe in the United States.
“We are proud to support OU Law in its commitment to training the next generation of excellent lawyers who understand and care about the legal issues faced by Native Americans,” said Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation.