Muscogee (Creek) citizen discusses TU Indian law program

Muscogee (Creek) citizen discusses TU Indian law program
(Darren DeLaune/Reporter) Muscogee (Creek) citizen Shonday Randall has been with the University of Tulsa’s Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law program since its inception in 2011.

Darren DeLaune/Reporter

Randall gives update on master of jurisprudence curriculum 

TULSA, Oklahoma — Muscogee (Creek) citizen Shonday Randall remembers when she started working at the University of Tulsa through their online legal education platform in 2011.

Now program manager of TU’s Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law degree path, Randall looks back at the time when she was its sole administrator.

“We just launched the program,” she said. “I was 30 days into working here.”

“We had to hit the ground running,” Randall said. “We had to get curriculum set up. I had to learn how to be the registrar and academic counselor.”

TU’s MJIL is reportedly the first master’s program in Indian law in the U.S.

“We had to come up with the rules, policy and procedure and how to actually implement the program,” Randall said.

According to https://law.utulsa.edu, the MJIL online graduate program is available in part-time and full-time formats to students across the country and can be completed in 18-24 months for professionals and paraprofessionals looking to work more effectively in Indian Country.

“As sovereign nations, we are each our own independent governing body,” she said. “Because every tribe is different not only by law but culturally and geographically.”

Randall said a year after the initial launch of the program; several universities have followed in their footsteps.

“There is a need for it,” she said. “There is plenty of room for universities to start these programs.”

Randall said she sees this as more opportunity for students rather than competition for her.

“I think more programs like this that we can make available for our students and tribal governments, the better off we will be,” she said.

Randall said she was at the right place at the right time when the program began.

“There was a need for people who necessarily did not want to be an attorney and practice law,” she said. “There is a need for the knowledge of Indian law.”

The program teaches how to function professionally between state governments and the federal government.

“We are nations within a nation,” Randall said.

Randall said the MJIL program has core courses that introduce them to the subject matter. After those are complete, there are elective courses to fit their career path.

“This helps the student who has an idea on what they want to do or if they have a job already,” she said. “Some students use this program as a stepping stone. Some use the master’s degree to move them into a leadership or supervisory position.”

Randall said she feels phenomenal seeing the program grow to what it is now.

“I’m so excited to be a part of this program,” she said.

She remembers when it started with 10 students and the graduating class had five.

“Now we have a graduating class every semester,” Randall said.

Randall said the program averages about 80 students coming from 25 different states and Canada.

“We have had as many as 100 but it is steady around 80,” she said.

Randall said they launched Master of Jurisprudence in Energy Law in 2013.

She said students do not have to be Native to participate in their programs but need to have a bachelor’s degree.

“In any discipline,” she said. “We just want them to have a sincere interest in pursuing Indian law or energy law.”

They are currently accepting applications for the 2019 spring and fall semesters.

Financial aid is available but it comes in the form of student loans.

“Many students have found that their tribe offers scholarships and financial support,” Randall said.

For more information, call: 918-631-2408 or go to: https://law.utulsa.edu.

 

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