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Volume 18: 2017/2018

Faculty Advisor/Editor-In-Chief

Professor Christine Zuni-Cruz

Student Editor-In-Chief/Managing Editor

Spring 2018 Co-Editor-in-Chief: Austin Megli

Fall 2017 Co-Editor-in-Chief: Jannette Mondragon

Editorial Board

Co-Editor-in-Chief Lauren Dixon

Managing Editor Margaret Kennedy

Citations Editor: Garrett Adcock

Submissions Editor: Sean Distor

Submissions Editor: Liisa Rettedal

Tribal Court Handbook Editor: Anne Rothrock

Symposium Co-Editor: Brittany Edwards

Symposium Co-Editor: Carl Neill

Online Editor : Anne Bruno


Ernestine Chaco
Savanna Duran
Kaythee Hlaing
Lyman Paul
Verenice Peregrino-Pompa
Roshanna Toya


The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma: History, Influences, and Contemporary Setting of the Choctaw Legal Structure

Austin C. Megli

The goal of this tribal profile is to provide an overview of the internal laws of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; to give a detailed emphasis on the tribe’s historic use of customary law, governance structures, enacted law, case law; and to examine how their internal law changed throughout history. By helping the reader become familiar with the history of Choctaw customary law and the contemporary structure of the Choctaw government, this profile will assist practitioners and academics in understanding the Choctaw Nation. Part I of this paper will describe the customary laws of the Choctaw Nation. Part II of this paper will describe the governance structures of the Choctaw Nation. Part III will describe enacted law in the Choctaw Nation. Part IV of this paper will describe case law in the Choctaw Nation.

If Trees Could Lobby They Would Be People Too: The Environmental and Cultural Benefits of Granting Legal Personality to Nature

M. Alexis Volner

In the Western culture today, the environment is perceived as a source for goods and resources. However, this perspective has resulted in serious environmental degradation and a real threat to our species’ survival. To combat these problems there must be a radical shift in the Western culture’s conception of nature. The first step in this shift is to recognize the environment as a legal person. The United States should grant legal personality to all publicly owned lands containing sites held sacred by Indigenous peoples and establish a collaborative board to manage the sites to recognize Indigenous cultural rights and encourage a paradigm shift in the Western culture; this in turn will result in a sustainable relationship with the environment.

Part I of this paper discusses the Te Urewera Act 2014, a piece of New Zealand, or Aeotera, legislation that creatively solves land ownership and management issues arising from a history of colonization. Part II of this paper explores the idea of granting legal personality to sacred sites to honor Indigenous peoples’ cultural rights, and the environmental implications. Part III of this paper describes the origins and development of the Western economy and its inability to recognize the inherent value of the environment crucial to a sustainable relationship with nature. Part IV of this paper explores the concept of sustainable development and Indigenous cultures’ unique ability to develop Sustainable Development policies. The paper goes on in Part V to discuss the benefits of collaboration between the Western culture and Indigenous cultures to manage sacred sites and implement Sustainable Development policies.