Regents Professor of Law, IPLP Faculty Co-Chair Rebecca Tsosie Named Inouye Distinguished Chair at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Nov. 29, 2021

Regents Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Chair of University of Arizona Law’s Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program Rebecca Tsosie, internationally recognized as one of the most respected legal scholars in the field of federal Indian law and Indigenous peoples' human rights, has been selected to serve as the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.  

I am so honored to have this opportunity to celebrate the legacy of the late Senator Daniel Inouye, who chaired the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for many years and was responsible for the passage of several of the most important pieces of legislation in the field of Federal Indian law, as well as being a staunch proponent of the rights of Native Hawaiian people,” said Tsosie. “Senator Inouye understood the importance of Indigenous self-determination and human rights, and he was also devoted to upholding the civil rights of all Americans. Senator Inouye worked across party lines to lead our nation in its commitment to justice and equality.  

In my lectures, I have highlighted the interface between domestic civil rights law and international human rights law, as I have spoken about the rights of Indigenous peoples to their land, territory, and sovereignty. Senator Inouye held an enlightened view of justice and reconciliation, and I have drawn on his legacy to offer an inclusive vision of climate justice, Indigenous self-determination, and cultural sustainability.” 

The chair is hosted in the UH Mānoa Department of American Studies in the College of Arts Languages & Letters and the William S. Richardson School of Law and was created to bring visiting scholars, activists, and public intellectuals to Hawaiʻi each year to foster public discourse regarding democratic ideals and civic engagement. 

“I have the deepest respect for the faculty, staff, and students at the University of Hawaii. The law school and American Studies faculties are engaged in pathbreaking research, and it has been a highlight of my career to engage with them about these important and timely issues,” said Tsosie.  

Tsosie, who is of Yaqui descent, is widely known for her work in the fields of Federal Indian law and Indigenous peoples’ human rights. She has published widely on sovereignty, self-determination, cultural pluralism, environmental policy and cultural rights.  

She serves as a Supreme Court Justice for the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and as an Associate Judge on the San Carlos Tribal Court of Appeals.  

Tsosie is currently serving her engagements as Inouye Distinguished Chair virtually, due to pandemic restrictions, but she hopes to be able to visit in person in the spring.