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Native American Heritage Month 2021

Speaker Series: Perspectives on Justice, Equity, and the Law

The Contemporary Fight for Tribal Sovereignty

November 30, 2021 at 12:00pm
Warren Hall, Grace Courtroom

From top to bottom: Vanessa Racehorse, Angela MedranoJoin Vanessa Racehorse and Angela Medrano for a lunch talk, “The Contemporary Fight for Tribal Sovereignty”. This discussion will cover the social, political and legal foundations of tribal sovereignty, Federal Indian Law, and the case law that shapes current efforts to advance justice, equity, and tribal sovereignty in the U.S.

Vanessa Racehorse is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and a descendant of the Cherokee Nation and Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. She has a JD from Columbia Law School and an LLM in International Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. Ms. Racehorse has worked in-house for the Colorado River Indian Tribes, was an associate with a boutique law firm that provides general counsel services and represents tribes across the country in litigation, and is currently an attorney for the California Native American Heritage Commission where she focuses on cultural resources protection. Ms. Racehorse will be teaching Native American Law at USD Law in Spring 2022.

Angela Medrano is a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians and is an alumna of University of San Diego School of Law. She operates her own law practice in North County specializing in general civil, tribal, and federal Indian law. Ms. Medrano is a current board member of the San Diego County Bar Association and is President of the Native American Lawyers Association of San Diego County. In 2019, Ms. Medrano joined the Intertribal Court of Southern California as a pro tem judge.

Co-sponsored by the Student Bar Association, American Constitution Society, Black Law Students Association, Law Students for Cross-Racial Understanding, Public Interest Law Foundation, and Women's Law Caucus.

About Native American Heritage Month

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month, thereafter commonly referred to as Native American Heritage Month. Native American Heritage Month focuses on the cultures of American Indians and Alaska Natives, groups indigenous to our country. Here at the University of San Diego, our campus's story is intrinsically tied to the Kumeyaay band of indigenous peoples, who owned the land upon which the university was built prior to its founding in 1949.

Mata'yuum dedication event

In 2019, USD endeavored to recognize the history and legacy of our local indigenous tribes on which our campus was built with the renaming of several buildings on campus. Serra Hall was renamed Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall in honor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American Catholic saint, and the Mission Crossroads facility was renamed Mata'yuum, which means "gathering place" in Kumeyaay. The Mata'yuum dedication ceremony (above) featured a group from the Campo Band of Kumeyaay performing music traditional to the indigenous people of the Southwest United States. 

Land Acknowledgement: We acknowledge that the land upon which the University of San Diego resides is part of the legacy of the Kumeyaay people. The spiritual traditions and enduring sovereignty of the Kumeyaay are the first that we acknowledge from this land.  From there, we combine our Catholic foundations with respect for free inquiry and pursuit of truth as we foster a world of peace and justice.

Check out the resources on this page for a sampling of the great resources about this topic available on campus in the LRC's collection, online with USDOne login, or free on the Web. Explore the library catalog to find more related resources. 

Free Online Resources

Online Resources from the LRC and Copley Library

E-books from the LRC and Copley libraries

Print Books from the LRC Collection