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SAIO 50 for 50: Wilson Pipestem

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This Week's Spotlight:  Wilson Pipestem ('95, J.D.)

Wilson Pipestem and Black Rock

Pipestem (Otoe-Missouria, Osage) has dedicated his career to protecting the rights of tribal governments and American Indians. Pipestem has represented and advised tribal governments, inter-tribal organizations, and Native individuals on a broad range of issues from treaty rights to gaming to protection of Native women.

Pipestem served as lead counsel in Osage Nation v. United States, a case in which the Nation alleged federal mismanagement of Osage mineral resources and the funds derived from minerals production. After eleven years in federal court litigation, the United States and the Nation agreed to settle the case for $380 million, the largest settlement at the time of a single tribe against the United States.

Pipestem played a prominent role in the enactment of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which reaffirms the inherent sovereign rights of tribal courts to exercise criminal jurisdiction over all persons who commit domestic and dating violence crimes against Native women. In 2004, he led the advocacy team that achieved Congressional reaffirmation of the inherent sovereign right of the Osage Nation to determine its form of government and membership. The VAWA and Osage laws are two of only three instances in U.S. history that the U.S. Congress reaffirmed inherent sovereign rights after the federal courts had ruled that those rights were extinguished.

In addition to his Stanford degree, Pipestem holds a bachelors in English from Oklahoma State University. 

Wilson's Interview