“It's really complicated,” she said. “There isn't one handy book that you can buy to read up and become an expert.”
Curtis Berkey, a tribal attorney in Berkeley, Calif., said the program would also be a good option for tribal council members and other officials who might encounter legal issues 10 to 15 times a day.
The relationship between the federal government and tribal governments is complex, he said, and officials need to be able to understand that relationship themselves, without consulting attorneys to explain it to them.
The program is one of two specialties the law school will offer in its new Master of Legal Studies program. The school is also offering a classroom-based program in Natural Resources Law.
The two specialties have obvious connections to Oklahoma, Harroz said — the state is home to many American Indian tribes and the energy industry is a key player in the state's economy.
The two specialties are also areas in which OU already has a great deal of expertise on campus, he said, including faculty members from the law school, the university's Native American Studies program and the Mewborne College of Earth and Energy.