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Professor Jeanette Wolfley

Jeanette Wolfley

Assistant Professor of Law
B.A., University of Minnesota (1979)
J.D., University of New Mexico (1982)
Member of the Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and New Mexico Bars

 Resume SSRN

Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-3010
 Office: 3415


Jeanette Wolfley, enrolled in the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, joined the University of New Mexico Law School in fall 2013. She teaches federal Indian law, Indian water rights, federal jurisdiction and Tribal natural and cultural resources courses. Beginning in Spring 2017, Professor Wolfley will teach in the new Natural Resources and Environmental Law Clinic, providing students with a wide array of natural resources administrative and judicial matters.

Prior to joining the School of Law faculty, Professor Wolfley practiced law for over 30 years representing exclusively Tribal clients’ interests in a wide variety of matters including, federal Indian law issues, tribal law, water law adjudications and implementations of water settlement agreements, environmental and land use regulation, hunting and fishing treaty rights, gaming law, taxation, employment rights, and natural -cultural resource protection.

She has a wealth of litigation experience before federal, tribal and state courts, legislation work before Congress and state legislatures, and administrative law practice before federal administrative agencies. Wolfley served as General Counsel for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes from 1988 to 1996 before serving as special counsel. Prior to her general counsel work she worked with the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colorado where she served as Staff Attorney and Deputy Director for six years, 1982 - 1988. Just prior to joining the law school she was in private practice representing tribal clients, 1996 – 2013. Professor Wolfley serves and appellate judge on the Southwestern Intertribal Court of Appeals.

Her academic interests include a variety of Indian law issues, Indian voting rights and natural and cultural resource protection matters.

Economic Development in Indian Country

The pace of economic development on tribal lands has greatly increased. This course will explore the process of economic and business development with its tribal, federal and state laws, cases, policies and practices in the area of natural resources, leasing, rights-of-way, taxation, gaming, and other business ventures. The role of individual Indian allottees will also be explored, and Tribal, federal and state jurisdiction and enforcement issues.

In addition to learning the substantive law, this is a practical drafting course which will allow the student to understand the importance of structuring and drafting corporation documents, transaction documents, contracts, and rights-of-way agreements, which will have large scale impacts for a client. Legislative drafting of gaming and taxation codes and regulations will be another drafting technique covered in the course. And, finally, drafting correspondence will be reviewed. Accordingly, the class will emphasize writing assignments and discussion about the documents as well as the case law that is developing.

Federal Jurisdiction

This course explores the role of the federal courts, the nature of federal judicial power, its clashes with Congress, and its relationship with state and tribal legislative and judicial systems. The course will focus on civil rights, environmental, and Indian law cases as the primary vehicles for this analysis.

Indian Law

This course examines the power of the Indian tribes and the relationships among tribes, states, and the United States. Emphasis will be given to jurisdictional interfaces and conflicts among the three sovereignties.

Indian Water Law

Indian Water Law will explore the jurisprudential origins of the role of Indian tribes as governments, and tribal entitlements in property and land. After a review of the historical under-pinnings of tribal sovereignty, the course will explore contemporary issues confronting tribes and pueblos relating to the development and use of their waters. This aspect of the course will develop a working knowledge of the Winters doctrine, quantification of Indian water rights, and finally the potential environmental and economic development solutions that may be integrated into global water right settlements.


Biagaweit: Securing Water from the Mighty River in the Snake River Basin Adjudication, 52 Idaho L.Rev. 313 (2016)

Reclaiming a Presence in Ancestral Lands: The Return of Native Peoples to the National Parks, 56 Nat. Resources J. 55 (Winter 2016)

You Gotta Fight for the Right to Vote: Enfranchising Native American Voters, 18 U.Penn. J. Const. Law 265 (Oct. 2015).

Tribal Environmental Programs: Providing Meaningful Involvement and Fair Treatment, 29 J. Envtl. Law and Litigation 389 (2014). Available at SSRN: