Federal Bar Association holds Indian law conference

The Federal Bar Association kicks off the 33rd annual Indian law conference today in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The theme of this year's conference is "Identity in Flux: Challenging Outsider Definitions of Tribalism." Session topics include tribal courts, economic development and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

"Federal institutions actively shape many aspects of modern Indian identity in a variety of ways, such as defining tribal actions as 'governmental' or 'commercial' in nature or by connecting tribal jurisdiction with the extent to which tribal institutions mirror the practices of non-Indian institutions," the conference agenda states.

A luncheon today features the "Indian Law Super Heroes Hall of Justice." Several prominent Indian law figures, including former Department of Justice director Lawrence Baca and White Earth tribal judge Anita Fineday, will discuss significant Indian law cases and legislation.

A panel on Friday to discuss civil rights in Indian Country is likely to be the most lively of the conference. Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith, who has defended his tribe's right to disenroll the descendants of former African slaves, is among the presenters.

The conference wraps up on Friday.