Tribal Law

UCLA School of Law to Receive $4 Million

By Natalie Banach
September 10, 2004

The UCLA School of Law will receive today the largest donation ever given by an American Indian tribe to an academic institution to the tune of $4 million.

The donation by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will create a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties.

The funds have been gathered by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians from gaming revenue and will go toward creating a tribal learning and educational exchange center, said Deron Marquez, chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

The law school and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians have agreed to a number of basic guidelines, but the law school will for the most part decide exactly how the donation will be used.

The money will mainly go toward designing a curriculum for UCLA students, both undergraduate and graduate, as well as courses for UCLA Extension, said law Professor Carole Goldberg.

While still tentative, courses such as "Community and Nation Building," "Tribal Law" and "Economic Development in Indian Country" will be among those offered as a part of the new American Indian curriculum.

The new courses are designed to educate UCLA students about issues facing American Indians. Tribal members will also have the opportunity to learn about the issues that face them through UCLA extension.

"We want to use the courses to draw together knowledge from the university and the knowledge base of the tribal community, ... educating people about the issues confronting tribal members in the 21st century and beyond," she said.

Along with new curriculum, UCLA hopes to provide tools for both UCLA students and tribal members.

Benefits garnered by the law school as a result of the endowment will include internships with tribal communities and support for the Law School Clinical Program, Goldberg said.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians sees this gift as another means of perpetuating their objectives: increasing awareness of American Indian culture, inspiring the youth to seek out higher education, and fostering American Indian culture in their own community.

The donation will hopefully provide a sense of belonging for tribal youths with many obstacles, Marquez said.

"Unfortunately, in this climate tribes have somehow made their way into a group known as 'special interests,'" Marquez added.

For the tribe, this new relationship will open doors for their youth, who will have the opportunity to connect directly with students, faculty and staff.

It is hoped that the knowledge traded between the law school and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will educate both parties about pressing issues facing American Indian nations across the country.

At a conference to take place this morning, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the law school will outline how the $4 million will be used and how both parties can take advantage of this new relationship, said Pricilla Simo, a spokeswoman for the tribe.