AR The University of Arkansas School of Law scheduled to launch
the "Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative" on Jan. 15, making
it the nations first law school initiative focusing on tribal
food systems, agriculture and community sustainability.
The initiative will draw on the nationally
recognized expertise of Janie Simms Hipp, who leaves her post as
the senior adviser for tribal relations to Thomas Vilsack, secretary
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and on that of Cherokee Nation
citizen Stacy Leeds, currently the only Native American law school
dean in the country. Hipp will serve as director of the initiative
and as visiting professor of law.
"I am honored and thrilled to return to
my alma mater and to northwest Arkansas to assist the dean, the
School of Law and the University of Arkansas in this important endeavor,"
Hipp, a Chickasaw Nation citizen, said. "The initiative we are embarking
upon will support tribal governments and rural communities throughout
our region and the nation in making investments in our nations
food and energy security. When indigenous communities use their
natural resources to create jobs and strengthen local communities,
we all benefit."
Among its strategic plans, the initiative
will provide educational and technical assistance to tribal governments,
private entities and businesses engaging or entering the food sector.
Other areas of research, service and education
will include agriculture, health and nutrition law and policy development,
professional training of government and corporate leaders, and the
formation of pipeline programs to engage students at the community
level and foster them through four-year higher education institutions,
law and graduate opportunities.
is an attorney and graduate of the U of A School of Laws internationally
renowned master of laws program in Agricultural and Food Law, the
nations only advanced law degree program in agricultural and
food law. She is the founder of the USDAs Office of Tribal
Relations in the Office of the Secretary and served two terms on
the USDA Secretarys Advisory Committee for Beginning Farmers
and Ranchers. She also served on two delegations to the United Nations
in the areas of womens issues and indigenous issues.
Leeds is one of five commissioners of
the Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform,
established by Secretary Ken Salazar of the U.S. Department of Interior.
The commission was created to conduct
a comprehensive two-year evaluation of the departments management
and administration of nearly $4 billion in American Indian trust
assets and to offer recommendations on improvements in the future.
She will be honored in February with the American Bar Associations
Spirit of Excellence Award for her contributions to enhancing diversity
in the legal profession. "This interdisciplinary initiative plays
to the strengths of the university and the law school," Leeds said.
"It will further enrich our highly acclaimed L.L.M. program in Agricultural
and Food Law, which has produced many of our nations most
well-respected agriculture law and policy leaders, including Janie