Legal Education

California law school gets donation that's said to be 'one of the biggest in history' from tribe to university

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The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, a California tribe, has donated $15 million to the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law to create full tuition scholarships for students interested in careers as tribal legal advocates.

“The gift is the largest-ever contribution that a tribe has made to a law school and one of the biggest in history from a tribe to a university,” according to a Sept. 23 press release.

The program will work with the law school’s Native Nations Law and Policy Center, according to the press release.

“This is one of the largest gifts to support scholarships in UCLA history, and we are incredibly grateful to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria for this visionary investment, which bolsters our university’s longtime commitment to service in Indian country and the success of Native people everywhere,” said Gene Block, the UCLA chancellor, in the press release. “This gift allows us to recruit the very best candidates to pursue their legal education at UCLA and prepare for careers as impactful advocates for Native Nations.”

Scholarship recipients will be known as Graton scholars. Also, the donation ties in with California Native American Day, which is Sept. 25.

“Tribal law is a cornerstone of Native Americans’ quest for equality and inclusion within the U.S. justice system,” said Greg Sarris, the tribe’s chairman, in the press release. He’s also a UCLA graduate and a former English professor at the school.

“UCLA’s commitment to educating and preparing the next generation of tribal legal advocates is personally known to me, as an alumnus and former UCLA professor. We hope this gift will begin the drive for equity for our people in our native land,” he said in the press release.

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