OBA Indian Law Section Law Student Scholarship

Download(PDF): 2017 GWR Scholarship Flyer

The Indian Law Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association recently announced the opening of applications for its annual G. William Rice Memorial Scholarship.  This $2,500 scholarship goes to a 2nd or 3rd year law school student who intends to practice Indian law in Oklahoma.  The Section will accept scholarship applications through May 23, 2017, and will announce the scholarship winner at the annual Sovereignty Symposium presented by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in June.  Please see the attached flyer for more details about the application process or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OBAIndianLaw/.

University of Tulsa College of Law’s Tribute to Bill Rice


G. William Rice (1951-2016)

Professor Bill Rice passed away on February 14, 2016 after an extraordinary career in practice and as an academic focusing on issues and rights of American Indians and indigenous people around the world. Professor Rice, a member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, served as the Attorney General for the Sac and Fox Nation, Chief Justice for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Assistant Chief and Chief Judge for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, and Associate Justice for the Kickapoo Nation of Indians in Kansas.  He was a tireless advocate for Indian tribes and Indian peoples, successfully arguing on behalf of the Sac and Fox Nation in the United States Supreme Court in Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Sac and Fox Nation, 508 U.S. 114 (1993). He played an active role in the United Nations Working Group on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which led to the U.N. General Assembly’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. When he began this work, Bill would frequently say “indigenous people — that’s ME!” with a twinkle in his eye.  Clearly, his impact reaches from central Oklahoma to Geneva, Switzerland.  His passing is a great loss to many.

Professor Rice joined The University of Tulsa College of Law in 1995 teaching Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence, International Indigenous Law, Native American and Indigenous Rights, Tribal Government, and Tribal Gaming Law.  He treated his students with great compassion and kindness while challenging them to achieve at the highest levels.  In addition to TU Law, Professor Rice taught at Cornell Law School, University of North Dakota School of Law, University of Oklahoma, University of New Mexico, and at Antioch School of Law’s Indian Paralegal program.

Professor Rice’s book, Tribal Governmental Gaming Law (Carolina Academic Press, 2006) is the first law school casebook for use in Indian gaming law classes. He contributed to the two latest revisions of Felix Cohen’s classic Indian law treatise, the Handbook of Federal Indian Law, and wrote extensively in the field of Indian law. Regularly called upon to speak at scholarly and governmental meetings, his speaking engagements included presentations to the United Nations’ Workshop on Indigenous Children and Youth, the University of Paris VII – Denis Diderot, The Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference, the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Sovereignty Symposium, and numerous appearances at functions sponsored by government agencies, major university law schools, and Indian Tribes.

Professor Rice’s great passions were the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the revitalization of the legal and political systems of Indian Tribes. He was the founding Director of the LL.M. Degree in American Indian and Indigenous Law and the Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law, and served as Co-Director of the Native American Law Center at The University of Tulsa College of Law.

Professor Rice was a teacher and mentor to generations of Indian lawyers. He had enormous influence on the field of Indian law. John LaVelle, his colleague from the University of New Mexico, best expressed what Professor Rice meant to those who knew him: “Bill was a champion for Indian people in heart, mind, and soul. I am honored to have known and worked with him.”

On a personal note, Bill was one of the best. He was a man of towering intellect and vision, and a generous, kind, down-to-earth friend and colleague. He was a consummate story-teller, who loved a good joke. His joy was infectious.

Professor Rice is survived by his wife Annette, his children, grandchildren, and extended family. He will be greatly missed by the TU Law community.

National Native American Bar Assn. on Bill Rice


Phoenix, AZ—Today, the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) pays homage to one of our greatest members, Professor G. William Rice, who walked on early yesterday morning.

Professor Rice was a member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, and tenured Associate Professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law, where he taught Indian law for 21 years and co-directed the Native American Law Center since 2004.

“Professor Rice was one of the greatest Indian lawyers ever,” said NNABA President Linda Benally. “We have all stood on his shoulders for decades. We will stand on them forever.”

His accolades and honors are too numerous to mention; they include:

  • Arguing Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Sac and Fox Nation before the U.S. Supreme Court (as one of only 13 Indian lawyers to ever do so), and winning that seminal Indian tax case;
  • Being elected to serve his people as Assistant Chief for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians;
  • Serving as the Chief Justice of the Citizen Band of Potawatomi Nation Supreme Court for 30 years; and
  • Contributing to the two latest revisions of Felix Cohen’s “Handbook of Federal Indian Law.”

“Bill helped lay the foundation in the late 1970’s for the resurrection of tribal courts in Oklahoma. He helped implement modern tribal codes that have been utilized and copied throughout Oklahoma and elsewhere,” said Greg Bigler (Muscogee (Creek) Nation), Professor Rice’s former law partner and close friend. “He was also a caring mentor to countless Indian lawyers and students, and tribal leaders.”

Professor Rice held teaching positions at Cornell Law School, University of North Dakota School of Law, University of Oklahoma, and Antioch School of Law’s Indian Paralegal Program. While at North Dakota, he was the founding Director of the Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Training Institute.

Professor Rice received his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1978, and B.A. in Chemistry from Phillips University in 1973. He attended the M.S. Program for Radiological Safety and Control from Lowell Technological Institute in Massachusetts, from 1973 to 1975.

“His was a wonderful adventure of life,” continued Bigler. “I do not believe he regretted any of the paths that he took.”

Oral Argument in Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Sac and Fox Nation: Bill Rice Addresses the Court

For one of the finest oral arguments of our time, and a very good thing for National NALSA moot court competitors to hear as they prep for the competition a few weeks away, check out Bill Rice arguing before the Supreme Court, beginning at about 34:20:


Bill Rice on the Future of Indian Gaming

Bill Rice has posted his fine paper, Some Thoughts on the Future of Indian Gaming, published in the Arizona State University Law Journal, Vol. 42, No. 1, p. 219, Spring 2010. Here is the abstract:

In surveying the historical development of Indian gaming, it is apparent that several pre-IGRA legal principles had a significant impact upon the development of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and the relevant caselaw. Since the enactment of the IGRA in 1988, litigation in the federal appelllate courts, has resulted in sufficient decisional law to be instructive in its interpretation, and to prognosticate the future to some degree. In addition to historical and developmental issues, primary areas of litigation have included: 1. Management contracts, and issues relating to their approval, enforcement, and cancellation. 2. Game classification issues in class II (bingo and related games) and class III Indian gaming (generally thought of as “casino” games). 3. Tribal-State compacting regarding class III Indian gaming establishments, and the interplay between the compacting process and the game classification process. 4. The reacquisition of land by Indian tribes, and the eligibility of such lands for gaming purposes pursuant to IGRA.

Given an understanding of the issues raised by the case law in these areas, and related litigation, additional issues may be identified which may be litigated or otherwise determined in the future. This enables one to identify certain policy issues which should be considered by the National Indian Gaming Commission, Congress, the Tribes, and States in the future.