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Image courtesy Turtle Talk
NNI's Indigenous Governance Program is excited to announce that Professor Matthew Fletcher (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians), author of the widely read Turtle Talk blog, has joined the January in Tucson faculty and will teach JIT's first-ever course in tribal business law.
Fletcher’s primary appointment is Professor of Law and the Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at the Michigan State University College of Law. His Turtle Talk blog provides a wealth of material for legal practitioners and policy analysts in the fields of federal Indian law and Indigenous governance.
We asked Professor Fletcher to reflect upon the Turtle Talk blog's genesis and discuss how federal Indian law has changed over the past two decades. His reflections:
Turtle Talk is designed to allow tribal lawyers to have access to legal materials, primary source documents, without paying law firms or Westlaw/Lexis. [When] I moved to Michigan State University, we wanted to make the consent decree materials in United States v. Michigan available online, so we started the blog. Then we just kept going.
The field has changed since 1998, when I first started, by being far more electronic. My first job was at the [Pascua Yaqui Tribe], and we shared one email address, [which] I checked irregularly. There wasn’t a lot of communication between tribal attorneys. Unless we met at a conference…we never really knew what anyone else was doing. That’s all changed, in part because of email, but also because of Turtle Talk, and more recently the Tribal In-House Counsel Association. Now any tribal lawyer can follow how other tribes are dealing with certain issues.
As for law teaching, which I began in 2004, there really hasn’t been much change. And that’s not really a good thing. The number of American Indians in law teaching has been stagnant for a decade now, probably because of the bottoming out of the legal field beginning in 2009. I hope that changes…
Professor Fletcher’s JIT 2018 students can expect benefit from his two decades of experience as they examine the unique challenges that tribal governments face when legislating and regulating business activity in Native communities.
For additional details about the course or attending January in Tucson please visit