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NativeNet Relaunches with New Courses, Resources
UANativeNet, formerly Arizona NativeNet, was reactivated this month, offering a new host of resources for tribal nations, attorneys, educators, students and others interested in issues facing American Indian and indigenous populations.
UANativeNet, a preeminent resource on a range of topics relevant to tribal nations and indigenous peoples, has been relaunched with new courses and reference materials.
Formerly Arizona NativeNet, the University of Arizona Web-based resource is more dynamic, offering an expansive amount of resources to American Indian and indigenous people throughout the nation and the world.
The relaunch comes with six new course offerings and guidebooks – repositories of practical advice – with others planned to be included throughout 2011.
"This is such a unique undertaking," said Melissa Tatum, a UA research professor in the UA James E. Rogers College of Law.
Tatum, also associate director of the Indigenous Peoples & Law Policy, or IPLP, program, said the site, launched in 2006, has grown to draw more than 1,000 hits each month, mostly from tribal members, attorneys and students, especially those at tribal colleges.
UANativeNet is a joint project of IPLP and the UA law school with the Native Peoples Technical Assistance Office and Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management and Policy.
The incentive has been to provide a broad understanding of tribal and indigenous legal issues to as broad a population as possible.
"This is for anyone interested in a non-lawyer's understanding of federal Indian law and policy," said Robert A. Williams, Jr., the E. Thomas Sullivan Professor of Law and American Indian Studies who also directs the IPLP.
"NativeNet was born out of a needs assessment of the World Wide Web based on what was available for tribal members, students, educators, policymakers and lobbyists on basic materials related to indigenous law and policy and indigenous peoples' rights," said Williams, who also is teaching three "Federal Indian Law" courses via UANative Net.
Much exists on the Web, but not centrally located in a comprehensive way as UANative Net provides, he added.
Other new additions are:
- "Foundations of Nation Building" is a five-part course that explores the process and challenges associated with being involved in intergovernmental relations while operating as sovereigns. The course is being taught by Native Nations Institute faculty members and a visiting professor.
- "Native Nations Building" is offered in nine modules and is presented by founders and instructors of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and the Native Nations Institute.
- "Regulating Water Quality" will be taught by Marren Sanders, a Phoenix Law School faculty member, covering federal water quality standards and mechanisms for tribal nations to set such standards.
- Four guidebooks centering on water quality regulations, limited liability companies and issues related to issuing and enforcing protection orders.
"So, on malpractice, instead of just videotaping a lecture, we are offering a continuing legal education course, and instead of just throwing it on NativeNet, we are developing an interactive class," Tatum said, noting that the site's managers found that users needed more in-depth and comprehensive materials.
Course offerings, all of which will be offered exclusively via UANativeNet – or in the form of DVDs for those who inquire – contain videos and written materials, requiring that those who take the course engage in interactive projects.
The non-credit courses do not require UA enrollment but are meant to be interactive and allow each participant to learn at a self-pace.
"For us, it's a major improvement in service and engagement," said Claudia E. Nelson, director of the Native Peoples Technical Assistance Office at the UA, a partner in UANative Net.
Nelson noted the UA's self-study for reaccreditation with the Higher Learning Commission evaluating the institution on its engagement and service, along with its mission, integrity, preparation for the future and student experience.
"I think we are becoming a leader in that area for tribal law and policy and for native nations building," Nelson said. "These types of resources have never been readily available to tribal nations and indigenous people here – and across the country, really."
The guidebooks, which are geared toward tribal leaders, address domestic violence, civil and criminal jurisdiction with in tribal nations, human rights advocacy and ways to avoid malpractice. Others focused on advocacy, civil and criminal jurisdiction and also nonprofit corporations and hearing appeals will be added at a later time.
So if a group is interested in introducing a limited liability company within a tribal nation, UANativeNet provides a resource. For those who want to know how to handle domestic violence within the frame of tribal law, those resources also are provided.
Tatum said the decision to offer courses came because of a need to provide reasonable professional development and continuing legal education.
And Nelson also said that given the fiscal challenge of recent years and the declining budgets for travel, strengthening the online presence was another way to ensure that those in need of education and support can receive it.
"Not to say that being on the ground isn't important, but it has become less feasible," Nelson said. "So this helps us to stay connected to the tribal communities."
Another resource is the new UANativeNet YouTube site, one that will include various recordings, including lectures and talks.
The site's library also contains video recordings of prior lectures and conferences and detailed overviews in text form. The materials presented are related to governance, economic development, community health and safety, lands and resources and also international issues.
Said Nelson: "We feel we are filling a huge gap and meeting a big demand for the basic types of resources leaders and native people across the country need."