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Tribal law conference to explore American Indian sports mascots

Monday, March 07, 2016

LAWRENCE — American Indian law scholars and advocates will gather in Lawrence this week to discuss legal issues surrounding the use of images of American Indians as sports mascots.

The 20th annual Tribal Law & Government Conference, Examining and Reconsidering Indian Mascots in the 21st Century, will runTribal Law and Government Conference Poster from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Friday, March 11, at the University of Kansas School of Law. The conference is open to the public, but registration is required.

“Advocates have been challenging the use of Indians as mascots for decades, and there have been some notable recent developments in the last few months – such as court decisions related to the Washington, D.C., NFL team,” said Elizabeth Kronk Warner, director of KU Law’s Tribal Law & Government Center. “By exploring this topic, KU Law hopes to make a valuable contribution to the nationwide debate surrounding the appropriateness of such mascots.”

Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute, a national Native American rights organization, will deliver the keynote address. A poet, writer, lecturer, curator and policy advocate, Harjo has helped Native people recover more than 1 million acres of tribal lands. She served as congressional liaison for Indian Affairs during the Carter administration and later as president of the National Council of American Indians. Since the 1960s, Harjo has worked to convince sports teams to drop names that promote negative stereotypes of Native Americans. In 2014, Harjo received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor.

Harjo’s address will be followed by a panel considering mascots from a Native perspective. A second panel will explore intellectual property and sports law perspectives on Native mascots. The program will conclude with a panel exploring ethical considerations when representing tribal nations.

Panelists include:

  • Cornel Pewewardy, professor and director of Indigenous Nations Studies, Portland State University
  • Rebecca Tsosie, Regents’ Professor, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; vice provost for inclusion and community engagement, Arizona State University
  • Dan Wildcat, director, Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center; dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences, Haskell Indian Nations University
  • Marc Edelman, associate professor, Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York
  • Jasmine Abdel-Khalik, associate professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • D. Michael McBride III, director, Crowe & Dunlevy

Two-and-a-half hours of CLE credit, including one hour of ethics, are approved in Kansas and Missouri. Register and preview the schedule on the conference website.


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