About the Program

Michigan State University College of Law offers one of only a few indigenous law certificate programs in the nation. Our mission is to educate law students and train lawyers to work on behalf of indigenous people and tribes throughout the country.

As an independent nation, an American Indian tribe has the right to self-govern, adjudicate legal cases, levy taxes within its borders, establish its citizenship requirements, and decide its own future. With 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes in the United States and still more petitioning for recognition, the need for lawyers educated in indigenous law is critical.

The study of law from an indigenous perspective is one way to help strengthen tribal sovereignty for the next seven generations and beyond. Indigenous Law Certificate Program alumni work in Indian law-related jobs across the United States, including in Michigan, Oregon, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Washington, DC. Employers include both small and large tribes, major law firms, non-profits, and the federal government.

MSU Law students who do not plan to focus on indigenous law in their future practice also benefit from a working knowledge of the area. American Indian Law routinely intersects with state and federal law matters, making it imperative for all attorneys to have a basic knowledge of the field.