Indian Law Symposium at USD Examines Indian Child Welfare Act

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) at the University of South Dakota School of Law will hold its Indian law symposium March 30-31 entitled “The Indian Child Welfare Act: Old and New Challenges.”

The free event in the law school courtroom is open to the public. The mission of the USD NALSA chapter is to provide for the professional advancement of its members; to promote legal education of Native Americans and other minorities; and to create an understanding and interest in issues affecting Native Americans and other minorities. Every other year, since 1990, NALSA sponsors the symposium that aims to promote awareness of issues in Indian Country.

The schedule:

Wednesday, March 30

Noon -- Opening prayer by Gene Thin Elk and keynote address by the Hon. Jill Tompkins, chief justice and director of the Penobscot Indian Nation Judicial System

2 p.m. -- Stephen Pevar book signing, “The Rights of Indian Tribes,” and social hour in the Davenport Evans Student Commons

3 p.m. -- First session, “Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik:” attorney Dana Hanna, who represents the tribe, and Stephan Pevar, an author and ACLU attorney who also represents the tribe

Thursday, March 31

9 a.m. -- Second session, information and discussion panel on Bureau of Indian Affairs guidelines: Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota People’s Law Project; Danelle Daughtery, BIA Great Plains regional director; and Mark Fiddler, adoption attorney from Minnesota

10 a.m. -- Professor Frank Pommersheim book signing, “Tribal Justice: 25 Years as a Tribal Appellate Justice,” and social hour in the Davenport Evans Student Commons

11 a.m. -- Third session, “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl” U.S. Supreme Court case: Mark Fiddler, adoption attorney and counsel for the adoptive couple; Frank Pommersheim, professor, USD School of Law; Wenona Singel, associate professor of law, Michigan State University College of Law; and Addie Rolnick, associate professor of law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law

Noon -- Closing prayer by Gene Thin Elk


USD’s School of Law prepares students for leadership in the administration of justice in South Dakota, including in rural areas where the demand is great, and for private practice, public service, business and other law-related endeavors anywhere. Its joint degree program allows students to also earn one of nine master’s degrees within the traditional three-year law curriculum, which includes course tracks in business, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, environmental, Indian, real estate and tax law as well as civil litigation and estate planning.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Michael Ewald
USD News