Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
16th annual Doing Business in Indian Country seminar held
TULSA, Oklahoma — The Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Court held the 16th annual Doing Business in Indian Country continuing legal education conference April 26-28 at River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa.
Continuing legal education consists of professional education for an attorney that takes place after their initial admission to the bar. There are no nationwide rules that exist in the U.S. for CLE requirements. It is instead left up to each individual jurisdiction.
According to the Oklahoma Bar Association’s website, every active member of the OBA 65 and younger who is practicing law in Oklahoma must complete a minimum of 12 CLE credits.
MCN District Court Judge Gregory Bigler explained how the MCN conference is a unique and vital take on the traditional CLE that many attorneys attend.
“It gives us a chance to discuss and educate about things that someone might need to know to practice within the tribal courts or to represent Indians within the Muscogee Nation area,” Bigler said.
Several important and timely topics were discussed at this year’s event including ceremonial and traditional law, Indian child welfare and children’s mental health in the legal system, as well as a background and update on the Royal v. Murphy case.
Jonodev Chaudhuri, former MCN Supreme Court chief justice and current National Indian Gaming Commission chairman, was happy to be at the conference to present on the 30th anniversary of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
“I’m excited to be here because I’m Muscogee (Creek) and this conference has been a leading conference in business in Indian Country for many years,” Chaudhuri said. “Both in my official capacity and a very personal level, honored to be here.”
Chaudhuri talked about the significance of having so many legal professionals in a setting where so much information and knowledge is shared on Indian law.
“It’s important to have practitioners who understand the law,” Chaudhuri said. “At our agency (NIGC), we’re about sound regulation without inhibiting the entrepreneurial spirit of tribes. Part of understanding the law is understanding the historical context of the law. Very excited to see so many folks with an understanding of the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government and state governments.”
Bigler echoed those sentiments and talked about how vital a knowledge of specific tribal issues, history and law can be for attorneys who may practice in sovereign tribal courts.
“While there isn’t a need for tribal history or knowledge in every instance, it may only be on occasion, but it certainly shades the way we look at certain actions or perspectives or things that we want to accomplish,” Bigler said. “Just as you wouldn’t think to practice in federal court without knowing about the Declaration of Independence or the Revolutionary War… you can’t practice very efficiently without understanding the background of the tribal people themselves.”