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Melissa L. Tatum is the Research Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program [1] at the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law.[2] She previously served as Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Tulsa College of Law. [3]

Education and work

Tatum is a graduate of Trinity University[4] (B.A., 1989) and The University of Michigan Law School[5] (J.D., 1992). She teaches and writes in the areas of Federal Indian law, tribal law, jurisdiction, and cultural property.[6]

Tatum has written and lectured extensively about cross-jurisdictional enforcement of protections orders, and is considered one of the leading national experts in the field, particularly with respect to tribal courts. She has served as a consultant to the New Mexico Attorney General's Office's Task Force on Best Practices for Enforcing Protection Orders (2007-2009) and to a Michigan Working Group on Full Faith and Credit for Protection Orders (2000-2001) organized by the Michigan Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board.[7]

Tatum has taught workshops across the country for judges, attorneys, victims services agencies and law enforcement officers on that topic. Her article "A Jurisdictional Quandary" is cited by the National Congress of American Indians' Fact Sheet on Violence Against Women in Indian Country,[8] and the State of Montana's publication "Full Faith and Credit: Encourage to Arrest."[9] Her articles "Tribal Efforts To Comply with VAWA’s Full Faith and Credit Requirements" (co-authored with Sarah Deer) and "Law Enforcement Authority in Indian Country"[10] are listed as resources by the Tribal Court Clearinghouse;[11] her article "Establishing Penalties for Violating Protection Orders" is cited as a resource by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.[12] All four articles are also listed as resources by[13] Tatum is also the co-author of a Model Tribal Code for Enforcement of Protection Orders.[14]

Tatum works extensively with tribal courts and has developed a method for indexing, digesting, and publishing tribal court opinions.[15] She served as the general editor for the Mvskoke Law Reporter, an eight volume set containing the court opinions of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation from 1832-present,[16] and as the editor for volume 8 of the Navajo Reporter,[17] as well as the second editions of volumes 1 and 2 of the Navajo Reporter. Tatum served as a member of the Navajo Nation's Rules Harmonization Project,[18] co-authoring a report on Navajo Nation Proceedings and Outside Review.[19] She sat as a judge on the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals from 1999-2006.[20]

While at the University of Tulsa[21], Tatum was an administrator for the LLM program in American Indian and Indigenous Law[22], one of three such programs in the United States. As Associate Director of the University of Arizona's Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program,[23] Tatum oversees IPLP's graduate law programs, which include an LLM program, as well as the only SJD program in the United States in the field of Indian and Indigenous law. Tatum has also served as a faculty member for the National Tribal Judicial Center[24] (part of the National Judicial College) on several occasions, and has taught at the American Indian Law Center's Pre-Law Summer Institute[25], as well as at Wayne State University Law School[26], Michigan State University College of Law[27], and the University of Detroit Mercy College of Law.[28]

She is a contributor to The Rountree Report[29], a blog tracking news and events relating to the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program, and the blog For the Seventh Generation[30] (news, views, and opinions federal Indian law and tribal governance by law professors who teach in the field).


  • Tribal Courts: Tensions Between Efforts to Develop Tribal Common Law and Pressures to Harmonize with State and Federal Courts, published in HARMONIZING LAW IN AN ERA OF GLOBALIZATION: CONVERGENCE, DIVERGENCE AND RESISTANCE (ed. Larry Backer, Carolina Academic Press 2005). ISBN 0890895856
  • General Editor, Mvskoke Law Reporter (an eight volume series, compiling, indexing, and digesting the court decisions of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation from 1832-present) (OWC Press 2006) ISBN: Vol. 1 – 0977320707; Vol. 2 - 0977320715; Vol. 3 – 0977320723; Vol. 4 – 0977320731; Vol. 5 - 097732074X; Vol. 6 – 0977320758; Vol. 7 – 0977320766; Vol. 8 – 0977320774
  • General Editor, Navajo Reporter volume 8 (OWC Press 2008)
  • General Editor, Navajo Reporter volumes 1 and 2 (second editions)(OWC Press 2009)
  • The Little Black Book: A Do-It Yourself Manual for Law Student Competitions (Carolina Academic Press 2002) (co-authored with B. Bucholtz and M. Frey) ISBN 10: 0-89089-512-0 [31]
  • Contributing Author, COHEN’S HANDBOOK OF FEDERAL INDIAN LAW (Lexis 2005) ISBN 0872154130
  • Tribal Efforts To Comply with VAWA’s Full Faith and Credit Requirements: A Response to Sandra Schmieder, 39 Tulsa L. Rev. 403 (2004)(co-authored with Sarah Deer) [32]
  • Law Enforcement Authority in Indian Country: Challenges Presented by the Full Faith and Credit Provisions of the Violence Against Women Acts, 4 Tribal L. J. (2004) [33]
  • Establishing Penalties for Violating Protection Orders: What Tribal Governments Need to Know, 13 Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy 123 (2003) [34]
  • A Jurisdictional Quandary: Challenges Facing Tribal Governments in Implementing the Full Faith and Credit Provisions of the Violence Against Women Acts, 90 Kentucky Law Journal 123 (2001-2002) [35]
  • Group Identity: Changing the Outsider’s Perspective, 10 G.M.U. Civil Rights Law Journal 357 (Summer 2000) [36]
  • Civil Jurisdiction: The Boundaries Between Federal and Tribal Courts, 29 Ariz. State L. J. 705 (1997)(published as Melissa L. Koehn)
  • Symposium Foreword, Incorporating Indian Law into Other Law School Courses, 37 Tulsa L. Rev. 481 (Winter 2001) [37]


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External links

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