Faith & Native Communities: Fighting for Freedom of/from Religion

Nov 2021
10

Join virtually: Register on Zoom at bit.ly/faithandnativecommunities

Join in person (JGH 105): If you're a member of the Columbia community attending in person, please RSVP using this form. Grab and go lunch will be available. (Note: Due to Columbia University COVID protocols, events are capped at 25 people so attendance is on a first come-first served basis)


The U.S government has long restricted—and even criminalized—many faith practices of Native American communities. Today, tribes across the country continue to bring religious liberty suits to defend their members’ religious exercise: most notably, to protect religious sites from environmental and spiritual degradation. At the same time, laws intended to protect religious exercise can also harm Native people by making them vulnerable to discrimination by religiously affiliated groups, such as foster care agencies. Join Professor Matthew Fletcher and attorney April Youpee-Roll for a discussion on protecting Native American communities’ right to religious exercise and their right to be free from religiously motivated discrimination.

This event is hosted by the Law, Rights and Religion Project and NALSA.


Speaker bios

Matthew Fletcher is Foundation Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. In 2021-2022, he will be the inaugural visiting professor for the UC-Hastings Indigenous Law Program. He is a frequent instructor at the Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indian students. He sits as the Chief Justice of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Supreme Court and also sits as an appellate judge for the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, the Colorado River Indian Tribes, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, and the Tulalip Tribes. He is a member of the Grand Traverse Band.

He is the Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law of American Indians. His newest book, Ghost Road: Anishinaabe Responses to Indian-Hating, was published by Fulcrum Publishing in 2020. Professor Fletcher is the primary editor and author of the leading law blog on American Indian law and policy, Turtle Talk, http://turtletalk.wordpress.com/.


April Youpee-Roll is a litigation associate in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson. Her practice focuses on complex civil litigation and investigations. Ms. Youpee-Roll also maintains an active pro bono practice focused on American Indian law. She has drafted and filed numerous amicus briefs in the federal appellate courts and the United States Supreme Court, and is a frequent speaker on Indian law issues.

Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Youpee-Roll clerked for Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. 

Ms. Youpee-Roll possesses nearly a decade of experience in federal and tribal policy. Before attending law school, she served as a research assistant to Senator Tim Johnson working on Indian Affairs, Judiciary and Appropriations matters. She also performed research on tribal governance and tribal-corporate relations for Harvard Kennedy School. 

Event Contact

Lilia Hadjiivanova

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