Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Gift Creates New Fellowship For Native Nations Law and Policy Center

March 28, 2022
UCLA School of Law building

UCLA School of Law and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians have announced the establishment of a new post-graduate fellowship for a scholar to work within the law school’s Native Nations Law and Policy Center. The Richard M. Milanovich Fellowship in Law will enable this scholar to lead research projects, assist with the Tribal Legal Development Clinic, and coach the UCLA Native American Law Student Association moot court teams.

This new position is made possible by a five-year, $600,000 commitment from Agua Caliente.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to enhance the capacity of the Native Nations Law and Policy Center as well as strengthen the pipeline for future Native scholars,” says Lauren van Schilfgaarde, who serves as the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Director of the Tribal Legal Development Clinic and who will work closely on selecting and mentoring the Milanovich Fellow.

Van Schilfgaarde, herself a member of the UCLA Law Class of 2012, adds, “Recent law school graduates now have an opportunity to assist with Center and Tribal Legal Development Clinic projects, and engage in research and writing in the Indian law and policy, working towards the decolonization of Indian law and the advancement of Native Peoples.”

The Tribal Legal Development Clinic serves Native American communities directly, providing legal expertise and support to those most in need, and enabling students to engage with tribal leaders, officers, and attorneys to contribute services to Indian tribes, while the Native Nations Law and Policy Center addresses critical public policy issues facing tribes while offering students invaluable opportunities for legal training.

The new fellowship is named for the late Richard M. Milanovich, who served as the Tribal Chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for 28 years from 1984 until his death in 2012.  The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is a federally recognized tribe with a reservation in the Palm Springs, California area.

“We are proud to partner with UCLA Law to create this incredible opportunity for the next generation of lawyers,” says Tribal Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe, of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.  “This fellowship honors our late Chairman Milanovich, who believed in tribal members seeking higher educational opportunities.”

“I am thrilled that we are working to expand the pipeline for new scholars dedicated to the vital work of serving Indian tribes and addressing at the highest level the most pressing matters of law and policy affecting Native Nations,” says Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin. “All of us at UCLA Law are deeply grateful to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and Tribal Chairman Grubbe for their generosity and belief in our work.”

UCLA Law has for decades been recognized as a leader among the nation’s preeminent law schools in developing courses, programs and scholarship addressing Indian Law as well as the legal standing and rights of Native Nations. In fact, the first legal casebook in federal Indian law was written by UCLA Law faculty, and the school developed the first joint degree program in law and American Indian studies. That degree program, along with most of the school’s related offerings, were introduced by Carole E. Goldberg, the Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law Emerita.

The school’s commitment to Native Nations has received substantial support in recent years from California tribes, including a major gift from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians that established the clinical director position held by van Schilfgaarde, and a transformational $15 million endowed gift from The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, which provides a three-year, full tuition scholarship to students interested in pursuing legal careers in Native American law. The first three Graton Scholars enrolled in Fall 2021.

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