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CELP Honorary Board Member, law professor, Charles Wilkinson, dies

It was with great sadness that we learned this week about the passing of esteemed tribal advocate, author, CELP Honorary Board member, and former law professor, Charles Wilkinson. He died in June at age 81.

Wilkinson was a fierce legal for tribal nations in the Pacific Northwest, the Colorado Plateau, and throughout the West and was known for his deep connection and presence for his students.

Early in his career, when he was working with the Native American Rights Fund, he represented a nation that was fighting against the state of Washington to assert its right of access to fish, which became a significant victory that Wilkinson and NARF were able to help secure. Wilkinson chronicled the use and abuse of resources, made complicated natural resources issues accessible to the general public, and helped elevate issues related to the legal status of Native tribes, which operate under a mixture of sovereign independence and state, federal and resource limitations. During his nearly 60-year career, Wilkinson produced book after book examining how special interests, arcane legal systems, government priorities, and history were colliding in the West.

“No one wrote better about policy issues facing the American West,” said Mike Chiropolos, on of Wilkinson’s former law students and a Boulder-based attorney. “It was never about Charles. It was about landscapes and people.”

Read more about Wilkinson and his connection to CELP here.

Our thoughts are with his family, friends, students, and colleagues he has touched over the years.

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