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Indian Law

TU Law welcomes new faculty expert in Indian and health law

This summer, The University of Tulsa College of Law will welcome Aila Hoss as a new assistant professor of law. Hoss is currently a visiting assistant professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where she leads courses on property, food and drug law, health policy and opioid epidemic policy. At TU Law, Hoss will focus her teaching on Indian law, legislation and property.

We wanted to get to know our new colleague better and introduce her to the TU community, so we conducted a short question-and-answer conversation with Hoss.

Indian law is an important element in your career. What drew you to this field?

I attended the University of Oregon School of Law, which has a nationally ranked environmental law program. While there, it became apparent to me that environmental issues resonated most with me when discussed in the context of population health. With this new awareness, I began to explore public health law as a potential career. I interned with a small obesity prevention nonprofit during my first summer of law school.

While working as an intern, I learned about health inequalities facing American Indian and Alaska Native populations. This led me to take classes in federal Indian law and tribal law. I was fortunate enough to be at a law school that offered these courses, but even more fortunate that tribal leaders, attorneys and judges from the area served as guest speakers.

What are some of the major projects you have worked on in Indian law?

Alongside tribal partners, I have served as a faculty member of a course focused on working effectively with tribal governments. This two-day course was available to state, federal and local agencies working on public health issues in Indian country. I have also developed a variety of resources on tribal emergency preparedness law to support tribes and their partners when navigating emerging issues, such as Zika, Ebola and natural disasters.

Professor Aila Hoss sitting on a bench in the summertimeWhat are you presently focusing on in this area?

I am currently collecting and analyzing state laws that support or require consultation or engagement with tribes. There are a variety of models to support tribal-state engagement but lots of opportunity for improvement. Analysis of state legal requirements may facilitate intergovernmental partnerships.

Thinking about Indian law broadly, what are some of the major currents today that warrant exploration by law students and professors?

Continued challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act are something advocates, practitioners and scholars have been watching closely and need to continue to do. The law is essential for keeping connections between Indian children and their tribes, but these challenges are also a product of a larger movement to undermine tribal sovereignty and the unique status of tribes.

You also have expertise in health law. Would you tell us about some of your work in this area?

I practiced public health law as an attorney with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While with the CDC, I provided legal research support to tribal, state and local governments as they sought to improve public health within their communities. For example, a jurisdiction might have high rates of vaccine-preventable diseases and would reach out to us to learn about how laws could improve vaccination rates in the case of health care workers or school vaccination requirements.

Law, however, can also be a barrier to public health. An example would be laws that criminalize substance use disorder. Sometimes, it is not always clear what the impacts of a law are on health, which is why public health research is so important.

Are there any intersections between health and Indian law?

Absolutely! In fact, the tribal leaders who guest-lectured at my law school about their experiences promoting and protecting tribal sovereignty in their communities inspired my interest in the intersection of health law and Indian law.

Tribes pass and implement laws that impact public health. Federal laws also create complex jurisdictional structures between tribes, states and the federal government. This necessitates additional research and scholarship on how these federal laws impact tribal health outcomes.

You come to us highly recommended as an instructor. What is your approach to teaching? Why do you enjoy it?

My goal as an instructor is to make law more accessible and approachable for my students. One way I do that is through storytelling. Every law has a few stories to tell, whether its purpose, passage or unintended consequences. Few things are more engaging and memorable than a good story, which is why stories are such good teaching tools.

I love teaching because I love to share my energy, time and expertise with my students. I also enjoy getting to know my students, learn from them and support them in their goals.

What are you looking forward to in Tulsa and at TU Law? What new opportunities do you envision?

It has been a real privilege to be able to work with tribes and tribal-serving organizations in different parts of the country, but it is a dream come true to be able to teach Indian law in Indian Country and to be at a law school with so many native students.

In addition to being a highly accomplished researcher and professor, would you give us a glimpse of Aila Hoss the person?

I’m an Iranian American, and my family moved around a lot when I was growing up. My folks live now in Atlanta, so that city feels most like home. Southern Indiana also has a special place in my heart because my husband grew up there on a small farm.

My husband is also a lawyer. He practices criminal defense and family law. We met during the first semester of our 1L year at the University of Oregon, and we supported one another throughout law school, the bar exam and our legal careers. Today, we are the proud parents of a Sharpei pup named Neville.

We’re both really thrilled to be moving to Tulsa. The warmer weather will be great, and we are looking forward to exploring new areas for hiking. I love to cook and share Persian food, so I’m excited by the prospect of a longer growing season and harvesting my own vegetables for the dishes I prepare.

TU Law grad uses MJ in Indian Law degree to start new business

Joannie Suina Romero earned a Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law degree from The University of Tulsa College of Law. The online program makes it possible to work and earn a master’s degree at the same time.

The following article written by Romero talks about her career path and how The University of Tulsa played an integral part.

The Corn Pollen Path

By Joannie Suina Romero, MJIL (Pueblo of Cochiti, New Mexico)

As a full-time employee, proud mother to four small children, a wife, daughter and active Tribal member, I had every reason to say I couldn’t do it. I had every reason to make an excuse or to procrastinate from furthering my education, as though I was comfortable with where I was at in life. I had an amazing job that allowed me to travel and research, but along the way I found myself itching to dig deeper into what it meant to “give back” to my community.

I’ve always closely identified with my Cochiti Puebloan roots, though I am of mixed Irish/Pueblo heritage. My mother, a full-blood Cochiti woman whose first language was Keres, raised me to be grounded in Native values, including being connected to our community through ceremony and through the Keresan language. As a child I paid close attention to her work ethic, determination, as well as her practice of prayer- greeting the sun every morning and the moon each night as a way to remain in balance with the universe. It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to appreciate how powerful prayer would become in my own life. It’s also very fitting that my maternal grandfather chose to name me Corn Pollen which is a crucial component to practicing Pueblo faith, as well as extending prayer from Earth World to Spirit World.

As I was approaching my thirties, I realized that my path yearned for something more, and I tediously began researching graduate programs. Just a year earlier I attended Graduate Horizons, which taught me what to look for in graduate programs, how to pay for school and what kind of support system I needed to keep me focused. When I came across the Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law (MJIL) Program, through The University of Tulsa College of Law, I was star struck. I found myself visiting the website, requesting information over the phone, participating in webinars and I felt content that it would be a good fit for me. And after a long talk with my family, I decided to apply. Applying to the program was an easy decision because I knew what I wanted. I wanted a different kind of education, one that taught me specific skills in how to further develop myself as an administrator, businesswoman, educator, and ambassador of our Pueblo Nations.

Last May, I had the honor of walking across the stage to receive my degree at the commencement ceremony. I proudly adorned a white manta, deer skin moccasins and a fluffy white eagle feather – the same that has carried me through many Pueblo ceremonies. I sat back in my chair and looked over at my family, my husband, my mother, my son, and my three daughters and exhaled a sigh of relief. It reverberated in my mind that I did it, but now what?

I felt moved to find a solution to all the soul searching, prayers and brainstorming. I then decided to leave my full-time job at the Institute of American Indian Arts to pursue full-time consulting. I realized that through consulting, I could still teach, research water rights, provide legal and technical briefings for Tribal leaders, strategize planning efforts to improve Tribal programming, serve as a Keres translator, partake in community events and serve as a motivational speaker to Native youth. And so, the idea of Corn Pollen Consulting, LLC. was born.

The mission of Corn Pollen Consulting, LLC. is to empower, educate and support Native communities to foster growth and development by combining alternative and innovative approaches to solve the educational, economic, political and social issues facing Indian Country in the 21st century. The MJIL degree has equipped me with such a unique skillset that only continues to enhance my existing background. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities and clients ranging from Tribal programs, nonprofit organizations, as well as state and federal agencies.

I can’t express how grateful I am to have been a part of the MJIL Program. The support of the faculty including Shonday Randall, program director, and Tim Thompson, assistant dean, is what made me feel a part of the TU family. This fall semester, at the Institute of American Indian Arts, I’ll be teaching Creative & Critical Inquiry and Federal Indian Law & Policy. It is such a dream of mine to be able to teach at a Tribal college and to teach in the Indigenous Liberal Studies Department. I feel like I’m able to get the best of both worlds — education and Native entrepreneurialism. I’m eager to see where this degree continues to take me, and I know that this is just the beginning. The impact of the MJIL degree speaks volumes of resiliency. It is honoring our Ancestors’ prayers. I am the result of those prayers, on this Corn Pollen Path, and I will continue to plant my roots and pollinate.

 

 

 

 

Pallarez and Young win Native American moot court competition

Manuel Pallarez and Randall Young, third-year law students at The University of Tulsa, won first place in the National Native American Law Student Association Moot Court Competition, March 2-4, 2018.

The 26th annual competition included 200 law students from 45 schools and was hosted by the Arizona State University (ASU) Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law NALSA Chapter in Phoenix and the ASU Indian Legal Program.

200 students from 45 law schools competed

Each year, the moot court competition gives students from across the U.S. an opportunity to argue the most compelling issues in federal Indian law and tribal governance. Throughout the year, team conduct intensive legal research to write an appellate brief and prepare oral arguments.

“The College of Law is very proud of Manuel and Randall for achieving this honor in the national NALSA moot court competition,” said Lyn Entzeroth, dean of the TU College of Law. “Students in our Native American Law education program have the opportunity to study with our outstanding Indian Law faculty.  Manuel and Randall are impressive students who represent our law school well.”

“I was shocked when our team was announced as the victors.”

Pallarez said, “As a two-year member of the National NALSA Moot Court Team, it was an honor and a privilege to represent TU Law in Phoenix. I am most thankful to our coaches, June Stanley and Brenda Christie (Tulsa-area attorneys). It was their belief in our abilities that made the victory possible. I will be the first to admit that I was shocked when our team was announced as the victors. The entire weekend felt like a dream as we kept advancing. The most satisfying part of the victory was being able to win with a great friend, two great coaches, and for the entire TU community. This will absolutely be a memory that I cherish for a long time.”

Young added, “Throughout the competition, every team we played would have made their law schools proud. Particularly in from the elite eight moving forward, we encountered insightful legal analysis and stellar advocacy. Competing with our colleagues from among 45 sister schools helped us hone our arguments going into the final round. That being said, as an alumnus of The University of Tulsa’s History and English programs, and now a 3L at the TU College of Law, I felt especially prepared to learn quickly, think of my feet and argue persuasively. In my mind, our accomplishment represents not only our personal dedication, but also the University’s mission to foster critical thinking and excellence.”

For more information on TU Law’s Native American Law Center, visit our website.