American Indian Law Clinic: Tribal Outreach Projects
The American Indian Law Clinic Tribal Outreach Projects provide free, pro bono legal services to tribal communities, while giving students the opportunity to meaningfully interface with community members and leaders and have access and exposure to the real-life environment where Indian law issues have an impact. In the American Indian Law Clinic, students learn about and work on behalf of tribal communities on a variety of projects involving federal Indian law and legal systems in Indian Country. All of the American Indian Law Clinic projects are selected to give students valuable legal skills while helping underserved and impoverished Indian communities with legal services that will help to build their institutions and protect their rights. The tribal community projects are purposefully reciprocal in nature, to support and facilitate engagement with tribal communities while giving students critical legal practice skills.
Funding from the CU-Boulder Outreach Committee during 2016- 2017 supports an American Indian Law Clinic Tribal Outreach Project to provide election protection information and education to the Ute Mountain Ute tribal communities in Southern Colorado.
In 2013, when Colorado moved to a mail-in voting system, the polling station in the tribal community of Towaoc, Colorado closed. This change was not well communicated to tribal members, and it meant that many tribal members did not have access to election protection education that was formerly located at the polling places. Additionally, Native Americans have lower turnout rates than the rest of the population in national elections.
Given these changes, students in the American Indian Law Clinic Tribal Outreach Project worked with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe's General Counsel to develop a 15 minute video webinar about mail-in voting. The video was available ahead of the general election to the reservation's 1,087 residents and 640 registered voters. The video explains how to register to vote, provides voting and mailing instructions, and identifies the closest polling stations.
The focus of the project was to provide education and information prior to the general election, however the video remains relevant as a tool to inform tribal community members about their rights as voters. This was a very valuable project for the community, but importantly, the students were able gain valuable skills in communicating and collaborating with the Tribe to build a tool that would best meet their needs as a community and empower their membership. In the end, that's a lot of what practicing Indian law is about.
This is a private program by request only, or for a specific audience or group.
For more information, please visit the program website.