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Indigenous Rights

About This Guide

What constitutes the field of Indigenous Rights?

Native people historically have faced epic oppression and violations of their human rights. When the first Europeans came to the Americas, it was inhabited by millions of sovereign Indigenous peoples. As more settlers arrived, Native people were relentlessly pushed out of their homelands. After the founding of the United States, laws were made to legally support expansion into Native lands at the expense of Native people. Indigenous law advocates and activists are diligently working on numerous human rights issues across all legal fields. Such issues include: missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), violence against women and children, protection of sacred sites, educational and health disparities, crime in Indian Country, poverty and homelessness, treaty recognition, language and cultural loss, voting rights, water rights, taxation jurisdiction, climate change, employment and housing discrimination, oil pipelines across Native lands, Native misrepresentation and cultural appropriation, and the continuing effects of the Covid-19 virus and its variants.

For resources on International Indigenous Rights click here



This guide would like to acknowledge that Suffolk University is located on the traditional and ancestral land of the Massachusett, the original inhabitants of what is now known as Boston and Cambridge. We pay respect to the people of the Massachusett Tribe past and present, we honor the land itself which remains sacred to the Massachusett People.

Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples Clinic

This is a year-long clinic offered for 10 credits. The clinic is open to day and evening students in their last two (2) years of law school and Accelerated JD students in their last year. The clinic advocates before international human rights bodies, such as the United Nations or the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), on behalf of tribes or indigenous non-profit organizations. Currently, the clinic represents Guatemalan indigenous rights organizations before the IACHR on a freedom of expression petition. Students would have the opportunity to contribute to that representation by updating the Commission on events, researching and writing documents related to the petition and coordinating with NGO staff. The clinic also represents Native American tribal governments and communities, as well as indigenous non-profit organizations located primarily in the New England region, but also nationally and internationally. When working with tribal governments, the types of projects on which students may work are drafting tribal court procedural rules, tribal laws or policies and procedures for a government department.

Clinic Information

Maya Kaqchikel Indigenous Community of Sumpango and others v. Guatemala