Law Schools: Number of Native American Students Increasing in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

In Oklahoma, it's not just the law that's gone tribal.

Officials at each of the state's three law schools said the number of Native American students has increased and those numbers continue to climb.

Similar to the increase in tribal litigation, Oklahoma is creating more Native American attorneys. In fact, statistics from each of the state's law schools underscore the rise in enrollments by Native American students.

Native American enrollment at the University of Tulsa's law school was up significantly for 2010 at 28, from 12 students in 2009. In 2009 at the University of Oklahoma, almost 8 percent of the law school's graduating class of 163 was Native American. At Oklahoma City University, more than 3 percent of the law school's 159 graduates were American Indian or Alaska Native.

"Nationally, it looks like law school applications from Native Americans has been down, but that's not so much the case in our neck of the woods," said April Fox, who handles admissions for TU's law school.

And while 28 students may not look like many in a class of more than 100, consider the fact that in 2005, TU had only seven Native American law students in classes.

The trend started, TU officials say, more than 30 years ago.

"In the 1970s and 1980s, you get this re-emergence of tribal governments," said Judith Royster, co-director of TU's Native American Law Center. "And you see the tribes push for better education. In turn, more Native American students began going to law school."

For attorneys such as Phillips Murrah's G. Calvin Sharpe, tribal heritage played a huge role in his life and his career. …

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