School of Law

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American Indian Law Program

Meet the Challenges and Opportunities
in Indian Country

Host 2010 National NALSA Moot Court Competition
     Watch the Final Round
Core Courses

2010 Host National NALSA Moot Court Competition

The 2010 National Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) Moot Court Competition was held Feb. 19 & 20 at The University of South Dakota School of Law and featured 42 teams from across the U.S. The two teams in the final, championship round. A distinguished panel of five judged the final two team representing the University of Wisconsin Law School and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law. The problem written for the arguments addresses legal issues associated with a federal criminal prosecution of a native individual who illegally possessed eagle feathers. Author of the problem for the national competition was Frank Pommersheim, American Indian law professor at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. The national competition was hosted by the USD NALSA chapter, Lonnie Wright, president. Wright has since been elected president of National NALSA. Nick Hamze has received double honors from National NALSA in being awarded 1L of the Year and elected as the National PR Director. USD NALSA was also selected national Chapter of the Year. Watch the final round and find more information at .     

  • JR LaPlante, Class of 2009
    • "When I looked across the nation at all accredited law schools, one rose to the very top. USD Law School has an exceptional American Indian Law Program both in and outside of the classroom, a proven tradition of developing exceptional attorneys, and all this at a very affordable cost. As a Mnicoujou Lakota, and one eager to assist my own as well as other Tribal Sovereign Nations, the choice was obvious."
  • Rain Archambeau Marshall, Class of 2003
    • "My membership in the Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) provided moral and academic support while I was in law school. It also provided me an opportunity to attend the National Federal Bar Conference in Albuquerque, which resulted in my election to the national NALSA board as Area 2 representative."

The Indian Law Program at The University of South Dakota School of Law is truly extraordinary. Where better to find an impressive American Indian Law Program than in South Dakota, in the heart of Indian Country?

  • Nine Federally Recognized Tribes reside in the state, with some straddling its borders.
  • Nearly 10 percent of South Dakota's population is American Indian, with Reservation borders encompassing the equivalent of 20 percent of the land in the state.

The importance of American Indian Law Programs in today's world is evident.

  • Of the nearly 700,000 attorneys in this country at the  time of the 2000 census, only 1 in 230 was Native. Beyond these Native attorneys, the total remaining number of lawyers even remotely familiar with American Indian Law is quite small.
  • This holds true today despite the existence of more than 560 Federally Recognized Tribes, more than 300 Indian Reservations and more than 4 million Americans who identified their native ancestry in 2000.

Native America has persevered and achieved significant progress in recent years, but American Indians and Alaska Natives still experience the lowest levels of educational attainment and the highest rates of poverty.

  • This is most apparent in the northern plains where American Indian communities share the unfortunate designation of being the poorest counties in the nation.
  • These populations also suffer specific health concerns far exceeding national rates and the worst mortality statistics compared to any other ethnic or cultural group in the country.

Knowledge, skills and experiences necessary to more fully address these concerns and meet the challenges and opportunities in Indian Country.

  • Beyond a proven record of success in developing highly skilled attorneys practicing in all areas of the law, the USD School of Law American Indian Law Program offers an impressive array of opportunities to learn about and experience the unique realities and challenges facing American Indians.
  • An accredited academic experience leading to a juris doctor (JD) degree at a remarkably reasonable tuition rate for both residents and nonresidents. Academic scholarship opportunities are also available. Like most traditional schools, the USD School of Law provides an on-campus program with students entering in the fall of each year. 
Core Courses

Three of the following:
Federal Indian Law
Indian Gaming and Economic Development
Indian Civil Jurisdiction Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Indian Criminal Jurisdiction
Elective Courses
Three of the following:  

Federal Courts International Human Rights
Natural Resources
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Water Law Business Associations
Public Lands
Conflicts of Law
Administrative Law
Creditor/Debtor Rights
International Law
Federal Income Tax


The School of Law Chapter is a member of the National American Indian Law Student Association.

  • Principal goals are to provide a local and national network of mutual support, to focus attention on Indian Law issues of interest to the Law School community, and to serve as a minority and cultural resource within the University community.

Indian Law Legal Links
The Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place
UJS Indian Law Book
USD Institute for American Indian Studies Program
Native Educational Endeavors
South Dakota Office of Tribal Government Relations
United States Bureau of Indian Affairs
Indian Land Tenure Foundation
Tiospaye U.