MSU College of Law

Kathryn E. Fort

Kathryn E. Fort
[Hi-Res Photo]
Director, Indian Law Clinic and Adjunct Professor
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 405C
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

Kathryn (Kate) E. Fort is the Staff Attorney for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law. She joined the Center in 2005 as the Indigenous Law Fellow. In 2015, she started the Indian Child Welfare Act Appellate Project, which assists tribes in ICWA cases across the country. In her role with the Center she teaches the Indian Law Clinic class and traditional classes in federal Indian law, researches and writes on behalf of Center clients, and manages administrative aspects of the Center. Ms. Fort has written articles on laches and land claims, and has researched and written extensively on the Indian Child Welfare Act. Her publications include articles in the George Mason Law Review, Saint Louis University Law Journal, and American Indian Law Review. She co-edited Facing the Future: The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30 with Wenona T. Singel and Matthew L.M. Fletcher (Michigan State University Press 2009). She is currently writing the casebook American Indian Children and the Law, and co-edits the popular and influential Indian law blog, TurtleTalk.

Ms. Fort graduated magna cum laude in from Michigan State University College of Law with the Certificate in Indigenous Law, and is licensed to practice law in Michigan. She received her B.A. in History with honors from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

  • Advanced Topics in Indian Law
    (Formerly DCL 563) Provides an opportunity for in-depth discussion and examination of current legal issues of federal and tribal law in Indian country including tribal gaming and economic development, tribal policy and governance, treaty rights, international indigenous peoples, and other contemporary topics.
  • Indigenous Law and Policy Center
    (Formerly DCL 625) This experiential learning course addresses the issues involved in creating and operating tribal judiciaries, and the federal, state, and tribal tax laws that affect tribal governance. Students learn about the appellate process in tribal court systems, including preparation of bench memoranda for pending cases in tribal appellate courts. Students also have the opportunity to assist in developing tribal court structures and improving tribal court administration. In addition, students assist in drafting tribal tax codes, creating administrative tax tribunals, and handling tax controversies for qualifying clients. Other projects may include legislative and policy work for tribal governments, including drafting and revising tribal laws and providing legal assistance regarding land tenure systems.


Digital Commons Publications »

SSRN Author Page »

Observing Change: The Indian Child Welfare Act and State Courts, 46 N.Y. St. Bar Assc. Family L. Rev. 8 (Spring, 2014)

The Vanishing Indian Returns: The Supreme Court’s Use of Narrative and Historical Fictions in Federal Indian Law, 57 St. Louis U. L.J. 297 (2013)

Waves of Education: Tribal-State Court Cooperation and the Indian Child Welfare Act, 47 Tulsa L.Rev. 529 (2012)

Disruption and Impossibility: The Unfortunate Resolution of the Iroquois Land Claims, 11 Wyo. L. Rev. 375 (2011)

Law Enforcement and Cooperative Public Safety Agreements, co-authored with Matthew L.M. Fletcher and Wenona T. Singel, 89 Michigan Bar Journal 42 (February, 2010)

The New Laches: Creating Title Where None Existed, 16 George Mason Law Review 357 (Winter 2009).

“Channeling Thought”: The Legacy of Legal Fictions from 1823, co-authored with Jen Camden, 33 American Indian Law Review 77 (Spring 2009).

Facing the Future: The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30, co-editor with Matthew L.M. Fletcher and Wenona T. Singel, Michigan State University Press (2009)

Beyond Minimum Standards: Federal Requirements and State Interpretations of the Indian Child Welfare Act, 45 Ct. Rev. 26 (2008-2009)

When the Rules Shift: A Review of the Indian Child Welfare Act, M.C.R. 2.615 and Tribal Court Jurisdiction in Michigan Family Law Cases, 10 Michigan Child Welfare Law Journal 11 (Spring, 2007)

The (In)Equities of Federal Indian Law, 54 Federal Lawyer 32 (Mar/Apr 2007)