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Navigating Native American Legal Issues

SKU: INT2100
Total Credits
1 - 2
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An examination of the early influences of disparate classification of Native American cultures and its impact on current Native American issues, interaction, jurisdiction and economic development. Outside of what has become known as Indian gaming there exists a number of pressing issues that continue to surface in the courts including jurisdictional issues as seen in McGirt v. Oklahoma; constitutional issues noted in Brackeen v. Barnhardt; voting rights and disenfranchisement and recurring suggestions of eliminating Native American sovereignty. Each of these issues, along with numerous others, continue to hinder Native communities by raising issues thought to be long settled in American Jurisprudence.

The class will highlight the major current issues and identify the foundations for cultural division that continues to impact the relationship between the Native American community and the federal and state governments that they interact with on a daily basis.

The course will provide historical data, context, and analysis of major cases as well as current policy and how it has shaped the interaction between Tribes and federal and state governments. In addition, the course will address some recent court decisions that have already changed the face of the Native landscape and the authority of Tribes.

Lecturer Bio

Robert O. Saunooke, Esq.

Mr. Saunooke is a graduate of Washington and Lee Law School and in his practice has continued a long familial history of working with Native Americans and Tribal Governments. For over 25 years he has worked with Tribal Governments throughout Indian Country assisting them in enacting legislation, lobbying, defending and prosecuting state and federal litigation for and on behalf of Native American Tribes, business development in Indian Country, and assisting in the creation of court systems and codifying Tribal laws.

Prior to becoming an attorney Mr. Saunooke was a member of the Brigham Young University football team winning the national championship in 1984 and recipient of the Shining Example of America Award for Acts of Heroism in saving the lives of eleven children during the Freedom Festival. Mr. Saunooke is the immediate past president of the National Native American Bar Association and was recently named as one of the top 100 attorneys of color and is an adjunct professor at Emory Law School teaching Federal Indian law and policy.

Mr. Saunooke was also instrumental in exposing the use of steroids in Major League baseball and represented Jose Canseco testifying before congress in 2005. Mr. Saunooke serves as co-chair of the American Bar Associations Minority Judicial Clerkship program as well as the Native American voice within various sections and committees of the ABA including the sections of State and Local Government, Judicial Division, Lawyers Conference and Minority Judicial Outreach programs. Recently Mr. Saunooke co-authored an update to the ABA’s book on voting rights titled “America Votes. Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights, 4th Edition focusing on the disenfranchisement of Native Americans in the election process.

Mr. Saunooke is a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, has three children and resides with his wife in Cherokee, NC.

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