As a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, an American Indian tribe living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, JoAnn Kintz ’14 entered law school with a desire to focus on legal issues facing Native American populations like her own.
“I was looking for different opportunities I would have to do that,” she says. “And Columbia was one of the places that had those opportunities.”
During her first year in Morningside Heights, Kintz competed in the National Native American Law Students Association (NNALSA) moot court competition. The event inspired Kintz to become increasingly active in the organization. She first served as a 1L representative for NNALSA’s Columbia Law School chapter (which was named chapter of the year in 2012) and then served as its president. She went on to join the organization’s national executive board as a representative and board secretary.
Fueled by these experiences, Kintz committed her summers to working on Native American law. She served as a legal intern at the Indian Law Resource Center in Montana. In that role, she worked on issues important to the relationship between the federal government and tribes. She also focused on matters involving violence against Native American women. Kintz gained experience at the Colorado-based Fredericks Peebles & Morgan, a Native American law firm, during the summer before her third year of law school.
Kintz, who will be working at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Indian Resources Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division after graduation, credits her Law School mentors, including Professor Philip M. Genty, Professor Alexandra Carter ’03, and Shawn Watts ’12, for training her. She took a native peacemaking course taught by Carter and Watts, which she says helped her understand how to handle Native American cases outside the classroom.
“I think they’ve really helped me to cultivate my interests,” she says. “Columbia has helped me in a lot of different ways to get to where I want to be in terms of my career.”