Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Gift $15M to Advance Study of Native Law

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria recently gifted $15 million to UCLA School of Law to create 15 scholarships in Native law. (Courtesy UCLA School of Law/Facebook)

A 2014 study released by the American Bar Association found there were only 2,640 Native lawyers in the United States, which was only 0.2 percent of the more than 1.2 million attorneys in the United States. A recent $15 million gift from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria to UCLA School of Law in order to advance the study and practice of Native American law. This gift, the largest a Tribe has made to a law school, will be dedicated to scholarships for Native American and other students interested in pursuing careers as Tribal legal advocates.

“Tribal law is a cornerstone of Native Americans’ quest for equality and inclusion within the U.S. justice system,” said Greg Sarris, FIGR Tribal Chairman. “UCLA’s commitment to educating and preparing the next generation of Tribal legal advocates is personally known to me, as an alumnus and former UCLA professor. We hope this gift will begin the drive for equality for our people in our native land.”

The Tribe’s gift will support a total of 15 scholarships through the Graton Scholars Endowment at UCLA School of Law’s Native Nations Law and Policy Center.

“This is one of the largest gifts to support scholarships in UCLA history, and we are incredibly grateful to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria for their visionary investment, which bolsters our university’s longtime commitment to service in Indian country and the success of Native people everywhere,” said Gene Block, UCLA Chancellor. “This gift allows us to recruit the very best candidates to pursue their legal education at UCLA and prepare for careers as impactful advocates for Native Nations.”

It was UCLA Law faculty who wrote the first legal casebook in federal Indian law. The school also developed the first joint degree program in law and American Indian studies, and its Tribal Legal Development Clinic provides free legal services to Tribes.

“For decades, Native American students and those seeking a way of serving Native Nations have come to UCLA to gain an unparalleled education in Indian law and American Indian studies, launching them into influential careers in the field,” said Carole Goldberg, the Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law Emerita and founding director of the joint degree program in law and American Indian studies. “This exceptionally generous gift will enable the most talented and committed students to join them as powerful Tribal advocates.”