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April 22, 2024

Ph.D. student honored for work to inform legal practitioners about tribal laws

While most Michigan-based legal practitioners lack adequate training in Tribal laws, Taylor Elyse Mills, a sixth-year doctoral candidate in Philosophy at Michigan State University and graduate of MSU’s College of Law, sought to do something about this significant gap in our state’s legal education and is now being recognized for her work.

In partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum in Michigan, Mills compiled a Tribal Law Handbook, titled "Anishinaabeg Law: An Introduction to Tribal Law for Michigan Legal Practitioners," to serve as a resource to prepare Michigan legal practitioners for work with Tribes and to demarginalize Tribal communities in legal education.

Taylor Elyse Mills

The Michigan Supreme Court will soon publish the handbook and several Michigan-based legal education institutions have expressed interest in using the handbook in their curricula.

Mills recently was awarded the Community-Engaged Teaching and Learning Award for this work. The award was presented by MSU’s University Outreach and Engagement and the MSU Graduate School at MSU’s 2024 Outreach and Engagement Awards Ceremony on March 21.

“I have struggled to be understood and even selected for certain professional opportunities because my nontraditional dual degree and social justice track record can look unusual. I have often had to justify the work that I do,” Mills said. “This project was a rare and perfect opportunity to bring together all of my areas of experience and passion, and rather than having to justify the work, my work was well received from folks seated at the highest levels of our profession. It is an honor to be recognized.”

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By: Kim Popiolek