Indian Law Program


The education of Native people is woven into the long history of Harvard University.  The Charter of 1650 pledges the University to “the education of English and Indian youth” and Harvard’s first Native American graduate graduated in the class of 1665. Since that time, more than 1000 Native people have earned their degrees from Harvard University. Today, almost 170 self-identified Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students attend the University, representing over 50 different tribal nations.


Robert Anderson
Oneida Nation Visiting Professor of Law

Bob Anderson is the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a Professor of Law and Director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington. He is a co-author and member of the Board of Editors of Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law (2012) and is co-author of Anderson, Berger, Frickey and Krakoff,American Indian Law: Cases and Commentary (Thomson/West 2008). He teaches and writes in the areas of Indian Law, Public Land Law and Water Law. In 2008, he was co-lead of the Obama Transition team for the Department of the Interior. He spent twelve years as a Staff Attorney for the Boulder-based Native American Rights Fund where he litigated major cases involving Native American sovereignty and natural resources. From 1995-2001, he served in the Clinton Administration under Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, providing legal and policy advice on a wide variety of Indian law and natural resource issues. He is an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (Bois Forte Band).

Joseph William Singer
Bussey Professor of Law

Joseph William Singer began teaching at Boston University School of Law in 1984 and has been teaching at Harvard Law School since 1992. He was appointed Bussey Professor of Law in 2006. Singer received a B.A. from Williams College in 1976, an A.M. in political science from Harvard in 1978, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1981. He clerked for Justice Morris Pashman on the Supreme Court of New Jersey from 1981 to 1982 and was an associate at the law firm of Palmer & Dodge in Boston, focusing on municipal law, from 1982 to 1984. He teaches and writes about property law, conflict of laws, and federal Indian law, and has published more than 50 law review articles. He was one of the executive editors of the 2012 edition of Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law. He has written a casebook and a treatise on property law, as well as two theoretical books on property called Entitlement: The Paradoxes of Property and The Edges of the Field: Lessons on the Obligations of Ownership.


Maggie McKinley
Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law

Maggie McKinley researches and writes on legislation, theories of interpretation, minority rights and representation, the architecture of lawmaking institutions, and tax law and policy. Her most recent project combines empirical, historical, and theoretical inquiry to define the practice, function, and constitutional contours of federal lobbying. Maggie currently serves as co-principal investigator of the “Language of Lobbying” Project at the University of Chicago, a qualitative and quantitative study of federal tax lobbyists, and as a collaborator with the North American Petitions Project at the Harvard Department of Government.

She holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a B.A. in linguistic anthropology from UCLA. Before attending law school, she served as Manager of Research at the UCLA Ethnography of Autism Project and Principal Policy Producer at the Sloan Center on the Everyday Lives of Families.

Following law school, she clerked for Chief Judge James Ware of the Northern District of California and Judge Susan Graber of the Ninth Circuit, and practiced civil litigation on behalf of unions and labor federations at Bredhoff & Kaiser in Washington, DC. Her work was awarded the Steven M. Block Civil Liberties Award for excellence in writing in the area of personal freedom and has been supported by the American Political Science Association and the Warren E. Miller Fellowship in Electoral Politics, among others.



Students who want to specialize in Federal Indian Law can effectively get an advanced course by doing an independent writing project. Professor Singer supervises students in research projects and writing law review articles or policy papers on Federal Indian law for credit during the 2L and 3L year. This is a capstone experience allowing for advanced work focused on a student’s particular interests for students who have already taken the basic Federal Indian Law course.



Harvard Law School has an established clinical program with the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in Boulder, Colorado and Washington, DC. Students may also design and pursue an independent clinical or supervised writing project in Indian law. Students have previously worked with NARF and other Indian law clinicals in a variety of areas, including the current Native Hawaiin rights dispute.


Harvard Law School offers a number of courses for those interested in Indian Country issues, including: “American Indian Law”, “The Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education and Juvenile Justice”, “Child, Family, and State”, “Climate Change Justice”, “Colorblindness”, “Community Action for Social and Economic Rights”, “Comparative Constitutional Law”, “Debating Race and American Law”, “Environmental Law”, “Environmental Law in Theory and Application”, “Environmental Law Practice: Skills, Methods, and Controversies”, “Natural Resources Law and Policy”, “Public Health Law”, “The Supreme Court in American History”, and “Politics”.

Programs at Harvard University and Beyond

1. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development

Founded by Professors Stephen Cornell and Joseph P. Kalt at Harvard University in 1987, the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (Harvard Project) is housed within the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Through applied research and service, the Harvard Project aims to understand and foster the conditions under which sustained, self-determined social and economic development is achieved among American Indian nations. The Harvard Project’s core activities include research, advisory services, executive education and the administration of a tribal governance awards program. In all of its activities, the Harvard Project collaborates with the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy at the University of Arizona. The Harvard Project is also formally affiliated with the Harvard University Native American Program, an interfaculty initiative at Harvard University.

At the heart of the Harvard Project is the systematic, comparative study of social and economic development on American Indian reservations. What works, where and why? For more information, visit

2. Harvard University Native American Program

As one of the University’s Interfaculty Initiatives, the Harvard University Native American Program is uniquely situated to bring together students, faculty, and staff from all parts of the University as well as friends and community members from peer schools and the surrounding Cambridge/Boston area. HUNAP serves three primary purposes on Harvard’s campus: teaching and research, community building, and Indigenous outreach. HUNAP provides students with the opportunity to engage in social, academic and cultural events throughout the year, while also allowing students to work closely with other Native graduate and professional students as well. Many HUNAP members become leading scholars and practitioners who make significant contributions to Indian Country.

For more information, visit HUNAP’s website at

3. National NALSA participation

Harvard NALSA students attend the Federal Indian Bar Association Conference each year, and often also attend the NNALSA Moot Court and Writing Competitions. In 2006 Harvard NALSA even hosted a session of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.