ROHNERT PARK, Calif. (Sept. 23, 2020) – The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR) and UCLA School of Law today announced the Tribe’s gift of $15 million to advance the study and practice of Native American law. The gift is the largest-ever contribution that a tribe has made to a law school and one of the biggest in history from a tribe to a university. It is dedicated to scholarships for Native American and other students interested in pursuing careers as tribal legal advocates.
“Tribal law is a cornerstone of Native Americans’ quest for equality and inclusion within the U.S. justice system,” said Greg Sarris, FIGR Tribal Chairman. “UCLA’s commitment to educating and preparing the next generation of tribal legal advocates is personally known to me, as an alumnus and former UCLA professor. We hope this gift will begin the drive for equality for our people in our native land. It’s particularly fitting that our announcement coincides with this Friday’s California Native American Day, which celebrates and honors the historic and cultural contributions by California Native Americans.”
The Graton Scholars Endowment at UCLA School of Law’s Native Nations Law and Policy Center (NNLPC) will support five full-tuition scholarships for each of the law school’s three classes — 15 scholarships altogether. This transformational endowment gift will be the first of its kind at the NNLPC and will help recruit and retain the best and brightest Native students and others interested in pursuing careers as tribal legal advocates.
“This is one of the largest gifts to support scholarships in UCLA history, and we are incredibly grateful to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria for their visionary investment, which bolsters our university’s longtime commitment to service in Indian country and the success of Native people everywhere,” said Gene Block, UCLA Chancellor. “This gift allows us to recruit the very best candidates to pursue their legal education at UCLA and prepare for careers as impactful advocates for Native Nations.”
Jennifer L. Mnookin, UCLA Law’s Dean and Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Professor of Law, said, “We at UCLA Law are immensely proud of our national leadership in Indian law. Thanks to this extraordinary contribution, our faculty, staff and students will have far greater opportunities to collaborate in promoting tribal sovereignty, cultural resource protection, Native American child welfare and economic development in Indian country – work whose impact will last for generations. I am tremendously grateful to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria for this vision, generosity and recognition of UCLA Law’s strength in this area.”
For more than 50 years, UCLA Law has been the national leader among elite law schools in developing courses, programs and scholarships addressing the legal standing and rights of Native Nations. The first legal casebook in federal Indian law was written by UCLA Law faculty, and the school developed the first joint degree program in law and American Indian studies. UCLA Law’s Tribal Legal Development Clinic provides free legal services to tribes in the areas of constitution drafting and revision, tribal code development, establishment and operation of tribal court systems, and negotiation of cooperative agreements with local cities, counties and states to coordinate initiatives and services. Students in the clinic have acquired vital understanding and skills through on-site collaboration with tribal leaders, officials and community members.
“For decades, Native American students and those seeking a way of serving Native Nations have come to UCLA to gain an unparalleled education in Indian law and American Indian studies, launching them into influential careers in the field,” said Carole Goldberg, the Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law Emerita and founding director of the joint degree program in law and American Indian studies. “This exceptionally generous gift will enable the most talented and committed students to join them as powerful tribal advocates.”
About the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria
Graton Rancheria is a federally recognized Indian tribe comprised of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo Indians. Legislation restoring federal recognition to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria was signed into law in December 2000. Tribal lands are located in Rohnert Park, Sonoma County, CA. For more information, visit www.gratonrancheria.com.
About UCLA Law
Founded in 1949, UCLA School of Law is one of the top-ranked law schools in the country. Its faculty are among the most influential scholars in business law, constitutional law, critical race studies, environmental law, Indian law, evidence, immigration law, public interest law, tax law and other fields. UCLA Law’s 18,000-plus alumni work in nearly every state and more than 50 countries as leaders in government, industry, social justice and the legal profession. Committed to the University of California’s mission of teaching, research and service, UCLA Law offers students a strong foundation in the law and practical training through a robust experiential education program. For more information, visit law.ucla.edu.
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