CLS staff member Sheila Curry is busy completing the new Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law, a degree recently developed in conjunction with CLS and offered through the OU College of Law. Curry is scheduled to be among the third graduating class in May 2017.
The study of Native American law has been a fascinating and advantageous study in the state of Oklahoma, which is home to 39 different tribes and the second-largest Native American population in the United States. Curry encourages anyone who needs or desires a deeper understanding of Native American law to learn more.
“I am Chickasaw. The Chickasaw Nation is the 12th largest federally recognized tribe in the United States and employs nearly 14,000 people,” she said. “The Chickasaw Nation is a rapidly developing, economically strong Nation that has invested in a bright educational future for our people. And I greatly appreciate that.”
While her primary goal in obtaining the degree is to gain knowledge that will help her participate in the Chickasaw Nation, Curry believes knowledge of Native American law goes beyond the traditional perception of the law.
“The Federal Indian trust responsibility is a legal obligation under which the United States ‘has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust’ toward Indian tribes,” she said. “This may be new to some, but the relationship between the federal government and Native Americans is unique with legally and morally binding obligations, and it’s in all of our best interest to understand what that truly means.”