Photo: Gloria Valencia-Weber

Gloria Valencia-Weber

Professor Emerita


  • B.A. 1970, M.A., 1974, Oklahoma State University
  • J.D. 1986, Harvard University
  • Member of the New Mexico and Oklahoma Bars

Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-4101
 Office: 3253


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, despite recently taking Emerita status.

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.


Immigration Law

This 3 credit hours course examines the multitude of issues involving the immigrants and the law. Starting with the historical origins of the United States immigration law, the course will focus on family and employer sponsored immigration, asylum, naturalization, exclusion, and deportation regulations. The impact of the US Patriot Act will also be explored. Beyond the substantive analysis, the course will address the practical aspects of working as an immigration attorney. Various guests will provide insights into topics ranging from enforcement of regulations to the immigration procedures.

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.

International Law and Indigenous People

This course will cover the basic international law frameworks, instruments, and emerging norms that apply to indigenous peoples. After the basic principles of international law, including customary law, the course moves to indigenous peoples as the subjects and objects of international understandings. Indigenous peoples are acting to change the established norms, going beyond the formalized states of prior relations among nations to recognizing peoples, political entities who are not just another ethnic minority. The course will cover the emerging norms and their formalization including the International Labor Conference Convention 169 (ILO 169) and the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, Draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Draft Declaration). For the comparative scope, we will study laws and cases that (1) invoke the international law to protect the rights of indigenous peoples; and (2) how respective states use and do not use international law in matters involving indigenous peoples within their boundaries. The latter includes cases from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other states.

Note: Indian Law (any Indian Law course) is recommended as prior coursework. Students without any Indian Law should talk to the instructor regarding a background reading to be completed prior to the start of the course. Prior international law coursework will be helpful.

Native American Rights

The course examines legislation, regulation, treaties, and case law that govern Native American rights. Specific individual and tribal nation rights, as traditional and emerging issues, are studied in a focused manner. Besides legal materials, history as a scholarly discipline and as a legal tool will be covered.


Books & Book Chapters

Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law (Nell Jessup Newton, et al., eds. 2005) (co-authored).
Available at: UNM-DR

40 Years of the Indian Civil Rights Act: Indigenous Women's Reflections, The Indian Civil Rights Act at Forty (Carpenter et al. eds., 2012).
Available at: UNM-DR

Three Stories in One: The Story of Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, Indian Law Stories (Goldberg et al. eds., 2011).
Available at: UNM-DR


Stories in Mexico and the United States About the Border: The Rhetoric and the Realities, 5 INTERCULTURAL HUM. RTS. L. REV. 241 (2010) (co-authored with Antoinette Sedillo Lopez).
Available at: UNM-DR

Indian Law on State Bar Exams: A Situational Report, FED. LAW. 26 (March/April 2007).
Available at: UNM-DR

When the State Bar Exam Embraces Indian Law: Teaching Experiences and Observations, 82 N. DAKOTA L. REV. 741 (2006).
Available at: UNM-DR

Santa Clara Pueblo V. Martinez: Twenty-Five Years of Disparate Cultural Visions an Essay Introducing the Case for Re-Argument Before the American Indian Nations Supreme Court, 14 KANSAS J. L. PUB. POL'Y 49 (2004).
Available at: UNM-DR

Racial Equality: Old and New Strains and American Indians, 80 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 333 (2004).
Available at: UNM-DR

Current Issues in Native American Law, 51 U. KANSAS L. REV. 249 (2003).
Available at: UNM-DR

The Supreme Court's Indian Law Decisions: Deviations from Constitutional Principles and the Crafting of Judicial Smallpox Blankets, 5 U. PA. J. CONST. L. 405 (2003).
Available at: UNM-DR

Domestic Violence and Tribal Protection of Indigenous Women in the United States, 69 ST. JOHN'S L. REV. 69 (1995) (co-authored with Christine Zuni Cruz).
Available at: UNM-DR

Observations on the Evolution of Indian Law in the Law Schools, 26 N.M. L. REV. 153 (1996).
Available at: NMLR

Law School Training of American Indians as Legal Warriors, 20 AM. INDIAN L. REV. 5 (1995).
Available at: UNM-DR

Shrinking Indian Country: A State Offensive to Divest Tribal Sovereignty, 27 CONN. L. REV. 1281 (1995).
Available at: UNM-DR

Tribal Courts: Custom and Innovative Law, 24 N.M. L. REV. 225 (1994).
Available at: NMLR

American Indian Law and History: Instructional Mirrors, 44 J. OF LEGAL EDUC. 251 (1994).
Available at: UNM-DR

El Salvador: Methods Use to Document Human Rights Violations, 8 HUM. RTS. Q. 731 (1986).
Available at: UNM-DR

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