The board cited Williams’s influence and reputation in Indian Law and the indigenous student community he has helped build at Arizona Law, which has the largest number of Native American students of any law school in the country. The board also pointed to Williams’s contributions to the groundbreaking B.A. in Law major, the fastest growing major at the University of Arizona.
"I feel incredibly blessed and privileged to be able to work at a place like the U of A that has valued and supported my research and teaching in the field of indigenous peoples law and policy, and the important outreach work we do here at the College of Law with Native communities throughout Arizona, the U.S. and the world,” Williams said in response to the award.
“I’ve had the encouragement and support from every president and provost of the university since I came here in 1987 in building IPLP into the leading legal academic program in the world for the study and promotion of indigenous peoples rights. And I’m particularly proud that President Robbins nominated me in his first class of Regents Professors. I also especially want to honor and thank all the past deans of the law school for their support and friendship over four decades, and in being my mentors and teachers; Paul Marcus, who recruited me here, Kenney Hegland, Tom Sullivan, Joel Seligman, Toni Massaro, Larry Ponoroff and Marc Miller.”
The Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program is the leader in the field of American Indian and indigenous peoples law, policy and human rights. With graduates on six continents, the reach of the program is global in scope, and it is the only program of its kind in the world that offers all three law graduate degrees (JD, LLM, SJD), a master of legal studies, and a master of professional studies.
“Professor Williams is the dominant scholar in his field, a brilliant teacher for both graduate and undergraduate students, and one of the leading innovators within the College of Law in transforming the model of legal education,” said Dean Marc Miller. “A generation of students and now professors and leaders in Indian Law can trace their intellectual foundations to Professor Williams, and his work is echoing throughout Arizona, the United States and the world.”
Williams is author “Savage Anxieties: The Invention of Western Civilization” (2012) and “The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest” (1990) and the co-author of “Federal Indian Law: Cases and Materials” (6th ed., 2011), among many other publications.
In 2017, he received the Lawrence R. Baca Lifetime Achievement Award of the Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference.