Administration at OILS

Chairman of the Board

            Prof. Michael Mitchelson


Professor Michael Mitchelson is the current chairman of the Board of Directors. Professor Mitchelson is an Assistant Professor of Law at the Oklahoma City University School of Law, where he has taught since 1999. He is a graduate of the Columbia University School of Law in New York.


Prior to teaching at OCU, Professor Mitchelson worked as an Administrative Law Judge for the state of Oklahoma, as a supervisor for the legal department of the Oklahoma City branch of the FDIC, and as a private attorney for Kornfeld Franklin Renegar and Randall. He is admitted to the bar in Oklahoma, New York, and Louisiana.


Our Board members include Tyson Branyan, Harry Woods, Casey Ross-Petherick, Blake Jackson, Bud Sahmaunt, Dalton Rudd, Eddie Valdez, Jarrod Tahsequah, Julie Strong, O. Joseph Williams, Kimberly Cravatt, Leslie Taylor and Marsha Lena.

                  


                A Message from the Executive Director


                                   Welcome to OILS!


   In 2018, OILS marks its 36th year of of providing quality legal services to low-income Oklahoma Indians. With funding from  the Legal Services Corporation, OILS provides services to Tribal members in every county and every Tribe in Oklahoma.


    The most recent census shows a significant increase in Oklahoma’s tribal populations. Oklahoma has the second-largest Indian population in the nation, with more than a third of that population below the poverty level. This economic plight is exacerbated by Tribal members’ complicated legal status, which affects many aspects of their daily life. Tribal members must deal with numerous federal laws, treaties and regulations that apply only to them. They also face a myriad of tribal laws and regulations, in addition to the state and federal laws that apply to all citizens. These issues  create a unique legal niche that OILS is honored to fill.


   OILS continues to  work to clear the backlog of probates for restricted Indian land in eastern Oklahoma. A study conducted by OILS in 2002 revealed that 75 percent of restricted Indian land had a potential cloud on its title, with some problems nearly 100 years old. These issues could have devastating effects for the Five Civilized Tribes, which uses restricted land as their basis for tribal jurisdiction. As the land base of restricted land ebbs, so does the area that five of the largest tribes in America can control. OILS also conducts multiple wills clinics for tribal members who have trust or restricted lands in Oklahoma. Under the American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004, wills are essential for the proper distribution of Indian lands. OILS works to ensure that Indian families are protected from losing their land after the loss of a loved one.


    OILS recognizes that Tribal members are a vital part of the community and tribal resources benefit everyone in that community, not just the Tribal members.  Oklahoma Indian Tribes are major employers of both Indian and non-Indians families; in some areas of the state, the tribe is the largest employer of non-Indians.  Tribal families are not monolithic; they are married to non-Indians and their children share many cultures. Recognizing this great diversity within our community, OILS has expanded its legal services in areas to benefit Tribal members and non-Tribal members alike.


        OILS has been very fortunate to receive funding from Legal Services Corporation, the State of Oklahoma, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, among others. OILS also benefits from the 39 tribes of Oklahoma, all of whom have been very supportive and generous of our efforts to provide the best services possible. Even though these are difficult times for legal services funding, we believe that it is even more difficult for our clients. We are proud to be able to serve the finest people in the nation, and look forward to continuing to seek Native Justice for many years.


Stephanie C. Hudson,

Executive Director

Executive Director

            Stephanie C. Hudson


Stephanie C. Hudson (Kiowa) is the Executive Director of  Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc. A native Oklahoman, Stephanie has worked as an attorney at OILS since 2000. She graduated from the Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1993. She previously worked as a coordinator for the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Early Settlement Alternative Dispute Resolution program.  Stephanie  serves as an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University’s School of Law and has taught Tribal Law, Mediation, Negotiation and was a Clinical Professor for the American Indian Wills Clinic. Stephanie was awarded the 2007 Tucker Award by the Oklahoma Bar Association Family Law Section for her work representing Indian children in tribal and state courts. Ms. Hudson serves on the Board of Directors for the United Urban Indian Council and is a past Chairperson of the Oklahoma Advisory Council to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  Her family participates in the Kiowa Tiah-Piah Gourd Society, and she is a descendent of Chief Lone Wolf and Maun-kee (Kiowa Bill).


Her email address is hudson@oilsonline.org.



Above: OILS Director Stephanie Hudson with Board of Directors (left to right) Julie Strong, Kym Cravatt, Blake Jackson, and Marsha Lena, and (seated) Michael Mitchelson, Harry Woods, and Tyson Branyan.


Right:OILS Executive Director Stephanie Hudson (center left) meets with (left to right) Joe Dailing from Dakota Plains Legal Services, Jim Sandman, the President of Legal Services Corporation, Christa Figgins from Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, and Alison Paul, Montana Legal Services, at a LSC Conference.