Charles Wilkinson

Distinguished Professor, Moses Lasky Professor of Law
History and Society in the American West; Indian Law; Public Land Law; Water Law

University of Colorado Law School
405 Wolf Law Building
401 UCB
Boulder, CO  80309-0401
Office: 405
Phone: (303) 492-8262

Curriculum Vitae:  View (PDF format)

Educational Background:
J.D.   Stanford Law School   1966  
B.A.   Denison University   1963  

Prior to joining the faculty of Colorado Law School, Charles Wilkinson practiced law with private firms in Phoenix and San Francisco and then with the Native American Rights Fund. In 1975, he became a law professor, teaching at the law schools of the University of Oregon, Michigan and Minnesota before moving to Colorado in 1987.

His primary specialties are federal public land law and Indian law. In addition to his many articles in law reviews, popular journals, and newspapers, his fourteen books include the standard law texts on public land law and on Indian law. He also served as managing editor of Felix S. Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the leading treatise on Indian law. The books he has written in recent years, such as 1992's The Eagle Bird, are aimed for a general audience, and they discuss society, history, and land in the American West. He won the Colorado Book Award for Messages From Frank's Landing, a profile of Billy Frank, Jr. of the Nisqually Tribe of western Washington. In his book, Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations, he poses what he calls "the most fundamental question of all: Can the Indian voice endure?" Listen to an interview on Colorado Public Radio conducted by Dan Drayer about Blood Struggle. In his latest book The People Are Dancing Again: The History of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon, Professor Wilkinson writes about how the history of the Siletz Tribe is in many ways the history of many Indian tribes: a story of heartache, perseverance, survival, and revival.

Professor Wilkinson has received teaching awards from his students at all three law schools where he has taught, and the Universities of Colorado and Oregon have given him their highest awards for leadership, scholarship, and teaching. He has also won acclamation from non-academic organizations. The National Wildlife Federation presented him with its National Conservation Award, and in its 10-year anniversary issue, Outside Magazine named him one of 15 "People to Watch," calling him "the West's leading authority on natural resources law." He has served on several boards, including The Wilderness Society, the Grand Canyon Trust, and the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado. Over the years, Professor Wilkinson has taken on many special assignments for the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Justice. He was a member of the tribal team that negotiated the 1997 Joint Secretarial Order of the Interior and Commerce Departments concerning tribal rights under the Endangered Species Act. He served as special counsel to the Interior Department for the drafting of the Presidential Proclamation, signed by President Clinton in September 1996, establishing the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. In December 1997 Agriculture Secretary Glickman appointed him a member of the Committee of Scientists, charged with reviewing the Forest Service planning regulations. Professor Wilkinson acted as facilitator in negotiations between the National Park Service and the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe concerning a tribal land base in Death Valley National Park; in 2000 Congress enacted legislation ratifying the resulting agreement. He also served as facilitator in far-ranging negotiations between the City of Seattle and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

Published Books

Wilkinson (with David H. Getches, Robert A. Williams, Jr. & Matthew L. M. Fletcher), Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law, (6th ed. 2011).
The People Are Dancing Again: The History of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon, University of Washington Press (2010).
Wilkinson (with Coggins, Leshy, and Fischman), Federal Public Land and Resources Law, (Foundation Press) Sixth edition (2007).
Wilkinson (with George Cameron Coggins & John D. Leshy), 2007 Statutory Supplement to Federal Public Land and Resources Law, (Thomson/West, 6th ed.) (2007).
Blood Struggle - The Rise of Modern Indian Nations, (W.W. Norton & Co.) paperback edition (2006).
Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations, (2005).
Wilkinson (with David H. Getches & Robert A. Williams, Jr.), Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law, (5th ed.) (2005).
Wilkinson (with Mary Peck), Away Out Over Everything: The Olympic Peninsula and the Elwha River, (2004).
Wilkinson (with Coggins and Leshy), Federal Public Land and Resources Law, 4th edition, (2001).
Messages From Frank's Landing: A Story of Salmon, Treaties, and the Indian Way, (2000).
Fire on the Plateau: Conflict and Endurance in the American Southwest, (1999).
Wilkinson (with D. Getches and R. Williams), Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law, 4th ed, (1998).
Wilkinson (with Riebsame, Robb, and Limerick), Atlas of the New West: Portrait of a Changing Region, (1997).


Wilkinson (with Daniel Cordalis), Heeding the Clarion Call for Sustainable, Spiritual Western Landscapes: Will the People Be Granted a New Forest Service?, 33 Pub. Land & Resources L. Rev. 1 (2012).
The Public Lands and the National Heritage, 14 Hastings W.-Nw. J. Envtl. L. & Pol'y 499 (2008).
Indian Nations and the Federal Government: What Will Justice Require in the Future? Claims Against the Sovereign 20th Judicial Conference of the United States Court of Federal Claims, 17 Fed. Cir. B. J. 235 (2008).
The First Half Century of Western Water Reform: Have We Kept Faith with the Rivers of the West?, 36 Envtl. L. 1115 (2006).
Listening to All the Voices, Old and New: The Evolution of Land Ownership in the Modern West, 83 Denv. U. L. Rev. 945 (2006).
"Peoples Distinct from Others": The Making of Modern Indian Law, Utah L. Rev. 379. (2006).
Filling in the Blank Spots on Powell's and Stegner's Maps: The Role of Modern Indian Tribes in Western Watersheds, 23 J. Land Res. & Envtl. L. 41 (2003).
A Case Study in the Intersection of Law and Science: The 1999 Report of the Committee of Scientists, 42 Arizona Law Rev. 307 (2000).
Land Use, Science, and Spirituality: The Search for a True and Lasting Relationship with the Land, 21 Public Land and Resources Law Rev. 1 (2000).
Indian Tribal Rights and The National Forests: The Cases of the Aboriginal Lands of the Nez Perce Tribes, 34 Idaho Law Rev. 435 (1998).
The National Forest Management Act: The Twenty Years Behind, the Twenty Years Ahead, 68 U. Colorado Law Rev. 559 (1997).
The Role of Bilateralism in Fulfilling the Federal-Tribal Relationship: The Tribal Rights-Endangered Species Secretarial Order, 72 Washington Law Rev. 1063 (1997).
Designating Paradise, Plateau Journal, p. 29 (1997).

Book Chapters

Indian Water Rights in Conflict with State Water Rights: The Case of the Pyramid Lake PaiuteTribe in Nevada, US, in, Out of the Mainstream: Water Rights, Politics and Identity (Rutgerd Boelens, David Getches & Armando Guevara Gil eds.) (2010).
Foreword, in The Mojave Desert: Ecosystem Processes and Sustainability (Robert H. Webb ed.) (2009).
Foreword, in A Lawyer in Indian Country: A Memoir (by Alvin J. Ziontz, Univ. of Washington Press) (2009).
The New West Never Happened, in, Voices of the American West 35 (Corinne Platt & Meredith Ogilby eds.). (2009).
American Indians' Spirituality and Land Use, in American Indian Places: A Historical Guidebook (Houghton Mifflin Co.) (2008).
Return of the Canoe Journey, in To Harvest, to Hunt: Stories of Resource Use in the American West (Judy L. Li ed.) (2007).
Aldo Leopold on Public Land, in The Essential Leopold: Quotations and Commentaries (1999).
Introduction, in Mono Lake: Explorations and Reflections, Jim Stimson ed. (1998).
Wallace Stegner and the Shaping of the Modern West, in Wallace Stegner and the Continental Vision (1997).


Spring 2017 American Indian Law II LAWS 7735-001
Spring 2016 Framing and Legal Narrative LAWS 5211-801
Spring 2016 Public Land Law LAWS 6002-001
Spring 2016 Advanced Natural Resources Law LAWS 8112-001
Fall 2015 Foundations of Natural Resources Law and Policy LAWS 6112-001
Fall 2014 Foundations of Natural Resources Law and Policy LAWS 6112-001
Fall 2014 American Indian Law I LAWS 7725-001
Spring 2014 Public Land Law LAWS 6002-001
Spring 2014 American Indian Law II LAWS 7735-001
Fall 2013 Foundations of Natural Resources Law and Policy LAWS 6112-001
Fall 2013 LLM Seminar LAWS 9846-902
Spring 2013 American Indian Law II LAWS 7735-001
Spring 2013 Advanced Natural Resources Law LAWS 8112-001
Fall 2012 Foundations of Natural Resources Law and Policy LAWS 6112-001