Professor Melissa Tatum Named Director of Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program

April 17, 2012

Prof. Melissa Tatum has been named Director of the Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program (IPLP) at the College of Law. She was previously the Associate Director of the program. She replaces Prof. Robert A. Williams, who founded the Indian Law program 25 years ago and has served as its Director since 2005.

“This is the only law school in the country offering all three law degrees -- the JD, LLM, and SJD -- with a concentration in Indian and Indigenous peoples law, and the program is an ambitious one,” Prof. Williams noted. “It has flourished under Melissa’s leadership as Associate Director, and I have every confidence that she is the right person to lead IPLP forward.” Prof. Williams will be returning to his full-time faculty position.

Prof. Tatum joined the College in January 2009 as Research Professor of Law and Associate Director of IPLP. She is a nationally-renowned scholar in federal Indian law, particularly with respect to tribal courts. As the co-author of several books and law review articles regarding domestic violence protection orders, she is frequently invited to teach and lecture throughout the United States and Europe, most recently in Geneva, Switerland and Galway, Ireland.

She is the co-author of a textbook on the management of federal public lands, highlighting a scholarly expertise in cultural property and access to sacred sites. The book, Law, Culture, and Environment, will be released in fall 2012. In addition, she is a contributing author to the 2005 edition of Cohen’s Handbook on Federal Indian Law, the pre-eminent treatise in its field.

“Being named Director of the IPLP Program is a dream come true,” said Prof. Tatum, “and brings my career full circle. The very first law review piece I wrote was a review of one of Rob Williams’ books, and I used one of Jim Anaya’s books as the basis for the first Indigenous law class I taught.”

During her tenure, IPLP has increased enrollments in its LLM and SJD programs, expanded its curricular offerings, and added a certificate in Indigenous peoples law as part of its JD program. Prof. Tatum has also overseen the launch of, the new incarnation of, and co-founded the Continuing Education Certificate in Indigenous Governance.

When IPLP was established a decade ago, its goal was to build on the success of Arizona Law’s Indian Law program by offering advanced training and degree programs to meet the needs of the next generation of Indigenous lawyers and leaders around the world. Over the last decade, IPLP has surpassed College expectations. Its alumni can be found on six continents working for governments, businesses, and human rights organizations. Ten percent of IPLP’s more than 100 graduates hold faculty positions in universities on four continents.