Robert A. Williams, Jr. – Lumbee

Published on February 24, 2013 by Amy

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Robert A Williams
Robert A Williams

Robert A. Williams, Jr., is an American lawyer who is a notable author and legal scholar in the field of Federal Indian Law, International Law and Indigenous Peoples Rights, and Critical Race and Post Colonial Theory. Williams teaches at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of the Law, serving as the E. Thomas Sullivan Professor of Law and American Indian Studies and Director of the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program. He is also the project leader for ArizonaNativeNet, a virtual university devoted to the higher educational needs of Native Nations.

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Williams is the son of Robert Anthony Williams Senior and Sallie Williams. He has a sister named Karen Amanda Cooper(Williams) He has a wife and two kids, Sam and Marley. His sister has four kids; Ben, Zac, Andrew and Kevin Cooper.

Early life and education

Williams is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe of North Carolina. He earned his B.A. from Loyola College in Maryland in 1977 and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1980.


Now at University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, Williams has established a notable career in the fields of American Indian and International law, indigenous people’s rights, and critical race and colonial theory. He has published several books on these topics.

For the 2003-2004 academic year, Williams was named the first Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He previously taught there as the Bennet Boskey Distinguished Visiting Lecturer of Law.

He is project leader for ArizonaNativeNet, a virtual university founded in 2006 and devoted to the higher educational needs of Native Nations.

Williams served as Chief Justice for the Court of Appeals, Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation. He also served as Justice for the Court of Appeals and trial judge pro tem for the Tohono O’odham Nation.
Williams has represented tribal groups before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples. He served as co-counsel for Floyd Hicks in the United States Supreme Court case, Nevada v. Hicks 533 U.S. 353 (2001).

Awards and honors

Williams has received awards from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Soros Foundation Open Society Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Institute of Justice in recognition of his research and advocacy on behalf of Indian tribes and indigenous peoples.

1990 Annual Gustavus Meyers Human Rights Center Award, for outstanding book on the subject of prejudice in the United States – The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest)

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