Tsosie delivers keynote at Maori Law Society conference in New Zealand

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rebecca Tsosie
Rebecca Tsosie, Executive Director of the Indian Legal Program, recently gave the keynote address at the opening plenary session of the annual conference of the Maori Law Society (Te Hunga Roia Maori o Aotearoa) at Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand.

The July 1 address, “The Role of Cultural Sovereignty in Promoting Indigenous Self-Determination,” discussed the concept of indigenous self-determination under international human rights law and how this right might be implemented in the United States in the areas of land rights, cultural rights, healthcare and sustainability.

Tsosie argued that the expression of indigenous self-determination is powerfully linked to cultural sovereignty, meaning the ability of each Native Nation to exercise its own norms and values in structuring its collective future. This process has the capacity to strengthen tribal institutions of governance and also promote the development of effective intercultural institutions within the nation-states.

Tsosie was joined by Robert Yazzie, former Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation, who also delivered a keynote entitled, “Lawyers as Peacemakers.”

The Te Piringa Faculty of Law at Waikato University hosted the three-day Maori Law Society conference and also celebrated its 20th anniversary as a law faculty dedicated to the training of Maori law students and others interested in the robust biculturalism that exists in New Zealand as a result of the Treaty of Waitangi between the various Maori tribes and the Crown. Waikato University recently approved the establishment of a Maori and Indigenous Governance Center, to be hosted by the Te Piringa law faculty, which will focus on national and international research concerning the governance rights of Maori and other indigenous peoples.

Tsosie teaches Indian law, property, bioethics, and critical race theory, as well as seminars in international indigenous rights and in the College’s Tribal Policy, Law, and Government Master of Laws program. She has written and published widely on doctrinal and theoretical issues related to tribal sovereignty, environmental policy and cultural rights, and is the author of many prominent articles dealing with cultural resources and cultural pluralism.

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