UW Law will host the 36th annual Indian Law Symposium on Sept. 7 & 8, 2023, in person at William H. Gates Hall and available on Zoom.
Native American Law Center
Community, The Hon. Peter Boome, JD 2011
Community reflects the obligations and objectives of the NALC, as we aim to promote understanding and support for tribal communities across the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We are also committed to supporting our own communities of students, alumni, constituents, and practitioners. We are grateful to Judge Peter Boome, currently an Associate Judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court, who generously provided Community. Learn more about Judge Boome and his artwork.
A Tradition of Meaningful Assistance
The Native American Law Center (NALC), first established in 1998, promotes the development of Indian law and encourages American Indian/Alaskan Native and others with an interest in Indian law to attend law school, and provides support and assistance for them during law school and beyond. The NALC is a resource for Indian Tribes, other governments, and individuals in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and across the country.
Our objectives include strengthening tribal institutions and their cooperative relations with local, state, and federal governments; supporting economic growth for American Indians; promoting new institutions for intergovernmental cooperation; advocating collaborative relationships to address environmental problems; facilitating resolution of tribal, state, and local conflicts; clarifying Indian Country status, governance, realizing Alaska Native priority subsistence rights; achieving fulfillment of Indian treaty fishing and hunting rights; and providing consultation in support of these priorities.
Explore the NALC
- Tribal Court Clinic
As part of the Native American Law Center at UW School of Law, the Tribal Court Clinic partners with the Tulalip Tribes to serve as the primary public defender in criminal cases filed in their Tribal Court.
- Indigenous Rights Track
Drawing upon the strength of the University of Washington School of Law's Native American Law Center, the Graduate Program in Sustainable International Development (SID) offers concentration tracks in Indigenous Rights Law in both its Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) programs.
- NALC Team
Meet the directors and attorneys of the Native American Law Center and the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic.
Explore resources on Native American Law.
- Student Resources
Learn about our curriculum as well as summer internship opportunities.
Some of Our Projects
Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic (2002 – present)
This project (the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic) provides public defender services to low-income members of federally recognized Indian Tribes and Alaska Native communities charged with crimes in Tribal courts. Faculty of the Tribal Court Clinic train and guide students to provide vigorous, competent, and effective legal defense representation. The project works with the Tulalip Tribes, and the Muckleshoot Tribe.
In the past, the project has also provided legal services to low-income Tribal members in the Tribal courts of Squaxin Island, Skokomish, Port Gamble S’Klallam and the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe. Additionally, the Tribal Court Clinic continues the parental defense component in the Muckleshoot tribal court system and appellate advocacy in the Tulalip and Muckleshoot Courts of Appeal.
Indian Law Symposium (1987–present)
Now entering its 36th year, this popular, annual two-day symposium at the Law School focuses on natural resource law, economic development, health, tribal courts, gaming, and other topics.
Tribal Public Defender Support (2005 – present)
In addition to direct representation, the Center provides training support to the public defender agencies of many Tribes in the US through the use of webinars and video conferencing. This includes general case strategy consultation, trial advocacy skills, brief writing, mental health issues in criminal and delinquency populations andother topics of importance to tribal public defense agencies.
Clinic Trip to Navajo Nation and Acoma Pueblo (2007 – present)
The Tribal Clinic utilizes a comparative approach when immersing students in Tribal Court practice. One highlight is our annual visit to the Acoma and Navajo Nation reservations. The visit allows students to compare and contrast court systems that are different from the Tribal courts of the Coast Salish Tribes. Trip events include meeting with Acoma court personnel and representatives from the Navajo Peacemaking and Public Defender Offices, as well as visiting culturally sacred locations. During the visit to the southwest, students continue to center Tribal sovereignty as the principle guiding their work on behalf of Tribal member clients.
Community Engagement (2002-present)
In service of the broad education mission of the NALC, faculty regularly engage with tribes and tribal governments, non-profits, state and local governments, state and federal courts, and the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch agencies to respond to inquiries and requests for information regarding Native American law and its continued development.
Amicus Briefing and Strategy (e.g., US and Washington State Supreme Courts) (2002 – present)
The Center regularly contributes expertise and support for amicus curiae briefs in state and federal appellate courts including participating in the Tribal (US) Supreme Court Project of the National Congress of American Indians and Native American Rights fund. The NALC has also worked on and supported briefs with the Washington State Supreme Court. These efforts assist parties and judicial officers in understanding tribal sovereignty and Federal Indian Law.
Native Nations and the Energy Transition (Sloan Foundation Project, 2022 – present)
Working with an interdisciplinary team of scholars and researchers from across the country, the NALC is developing resources to support Tribal leaders and policymakers asserting their sovereignty and interests as they explore the transition to a more renewable energy future.
Empowering the Original Stewards (in conjunction with the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (HPAIED), 2022 – present)
The NALC is collaborating with the HPAIED and with support from the Christensen Fund to develop resources and educational materials for philanthropic organizations interested in directly supporting Tribal conservation efforts.
Native American Center News
An in-person film screening of “Stewart Udall and The Politics of Beauty” will be held April 7, followed by a distinguished panel discussion including director John de Graaf, Senator Mark Udall and UW Law faculty.
Native tribes are pushing for their voices, and traditional knowledge, to be part of decisions over their ancestral homelands. Monte Mills, director of the Native American Law Center at UW Law, is quoted. (Source: Popular Science)