Tribal Dispute Resolution Project

The Center for Indian Law and Policy includes a dispute resolution project designed to address the often intractable conflicts that arise in Indian law. Those disputes are special because their cultural, social, and historical components often play singularly important roles, with roots that extend back many decades. To solve these conflicts effectively requires an ability to understand Indian law and an awareness and respect for the cultural and inter-generational divides that characterize the disputes.

Working to resolve these disputes outside of traditional litigation is a way to address specific problems and to work to a greater end: to pursue a sustainable, socially just answer, one conflict at a time, to the question of how tribal and non-tribal people can find a way to live together fruitfully. This is the mission of the Center's Indian Law Dispute Resolution Project. That mission has its source in the Jesuit tradition of working for a just and peaceful society.

The Dispute Resolution Project will draw on its and the Law School's professional and student resources to work on cases. It will be lead initially by Doug Nash and Michael Mirande, who between them have over 60-years of experience working on Indian law disputes and also teach as adjuncts at the Law School. Indian law's role in the Project's problem solving approach will be complimented by an active consideration of cultural, anthropological, and historical factors. How best to achieve a socially just, sustainable case resolution will always be at the center of the Project's efforts. For one example of how Doug Nash and Michael Mirande implemented this approach in the past, see M. Mirande, "Sustainable Natural Resource Development, Legal Dispute, and Indigenous Peoples: Problem-Solving Across Cultures," 11 Tul. Envtl. L.J. 33 (1997). With time, the Center's goal is to expand its work to include cooperative endeavors with tribal, state, and federal courts.

Students will play an important role in each stage of problem solving, from initial interaction with clients through efforts to institutionalize among the parties on-going relationships that should serve as a framework for avoiding future conflicts. This will provide cost effective problem solving and an important source of professional learning and experience.

The Center's Dispute Resolution Project is open to tribal and non-tribal governments and entities who are seeking resolution of conflicts whether or not those conflicts are in active litigation. The conflicts can be between tribal and non-tribal parties, or between competing tribes trying to sort out their respective prerogatives. The Center's fee schedule is competitively based.

Those seeking more information about the Center's Dispute Resolution Project and the ways in which it can help, should please write or telephone the Center's Director, Douglas Nash at dnash@seattleu.edu or (208) 398-4276.

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