Professor Jeanette Wolfley

Jeanette Wolfley

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  UNM-DR    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.

Tribal Natural and Cultural Resources Law

This writing seminar explores the myriad of jurisdictional, regulatory and ownership issues that arise in the tribal natural and cultural resources context. It examines, among other things, the scope of tribal authority to protect and regulate natural resources on reservation, the role of tribes to participate in federal and state actions affecting natural and cultural resources off-reservation, and laws and cases that have developed under this broad area. The themes and topics covered in the seminar will allow a student to delve deeper into a particular area of tribal natural and cultural resources law that is of special interest to the student.

There are two interrelated goals for this course. First, to ensure students write a piece of original scholarship, of publishable quality, on a topic with tribal natural and cultural resources law, and second, to ensure students become familiar with foundational cases and issues in the tribal natural and cultural resources area. Since this is a writing seminar, the primary focus of the course will be students’ papers. Accordingly, I intend to work closely with students on their respective papers and helping students become effective legal writers. I will have some guest speakers to help students with their research and writing, and their presentations will be in the first half of the class.



Biagaweit: Securing Water from the Mighty River in the Snake River Basin Adjudication, 52 IDAHO L. REV. 313 (2016).
Available at: UNM-DR

Reclaiming a Presence in Ancestral Lands: The Return of Native Peoples to the National Parks, 56 NAT. RESOURCES J. 55 (Winter 2016).
Available at: UNM-DR

You Gotta Fight for the Right to Vote: Enfranchising Native American Voters, 18 U. PENN. J. CONST. L. 265 (Oct. 2015).
Available at: UNM-DR

As Long As the Water Shall Flow: Bringing Water to Tribal Homelands, THE FEDERAL L. 50 (April 2015).
Available at: UNM-DR

Tribal Environmental Programs: Providing Meaningful Involvement and Fair Treatment, 29 J. ENVTL. L. & LITIG. 389 (2014).
Available at: UNM-DR

Rice v. Cayetano: The Supreme Court Declines to Extend Federal Indian Law Principles to Native Hawaiians Sovereign Rights, 3 ASIAN PAC. AM. L. & POL'Y J. 359 (2002).
Available at: UNM-DR

Jim Crow, Indian Style: The Disenfranchisement of Native Americans, 16 AM. INDIAN L. REV. 167 (1991).
Available at: UNM-DR

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