Emerita Professor of Law
B.A. 1970, M.A., 1974, Oklahoma State University
J.D. 1986, Harvard University
Member of the New Mexico and Oklahoma Bars
Gloria Valencia-Weber came to the UNM law school in 1992 to establish the Indian Law Certificate Program, which debuted two years later. Through Valencia-Weber's efforts, along with others, the school's Indian Law program has become one of the top in the country.
Valencia-Weber, a bilingual child of Mexican Indian heritage, enrolled in Harvard Law School after a career that included working for the American Civil Liberties Union, coordinating a diversified students program and teaching psychology at Oklahoma State University. Because Indian Law offerings were scarce at Harvard, she learned much about that area of law on her own.
After two federal judicial clerkships (in district court and for the chief judge of the 10th Circuit), in 1990 Valencia-Weber established the country's first Indian Law certificate program at the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Since Valencia-Weber arrived at UNM, the number of Indian Law course offerings has increased significantly and Indian Law is woven throughout the law-school curriculum.
Her research focuses on the evolution of American Indian Law that includes the customary principles of tribal sovereigns. She has contributed the section on the Indian Child Welfare Act for a revision of the Felix Cohen Handbook of Federal Indian Law. In 2000, she studied the legal experience of the indigenous Maori culture in New Zealand.
In 2002, she stepped down as director of the Indian Law Certificate Program, but continues to teach and be active in the field.
She is a member of the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals and in 2010 was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the national Legal Services Corp. Board of Directors.