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Distinguished Alumni Award

The highest honor bestowed by the College of Charleston Honors College, the Distinguished Alumni Award publicly recognizes Honors College alumni who are noted for their professional achievements, their contributions to society, and their support of the College of Charleston. Honorees have performed exceptional service for the College of Charleston through cumulative contributions or by extraordinary efforts that advance the both the Honors College and the College of Charleston.


Arlinda Locklear CofC Distinguished Alumni Award

Arlinda Locklear '76

Arlinda F. Locklear has a particularly distinguished career in federal Indian law. During her thirty five years experience in the field, Ms. Locklear has represented tribes throughout the country in federal and state courts on treaty claims to water and land, taxation disputes with states and local authorities, reservation boundary issues and federal recognition of tribes. In particular, she is a nationally‑recognized expert in federal recognition of tribes and Indian land claims.

Ms. Locklear has represented tribes in the United States Supreme Court in several cases and was lead counsel in two such cases preparing the brief and presenting the oral argument. In 1984, she successfully challenged the state of South Dakota's authority to prosecute a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe for on‑reservation conduct in Solem v. Bartlett. In doing so, Ms. Locklear was the first Native American woman to appear in the Supreme Court. In 1985, Ms. Locklear represented the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin in Oneida Indian Nation v. County of Oneida, in which she formulated and argued the theory adopted by the Supreme Court, holding that tribes have a federal common law right to sue for possession of tribal land taken in violation of federal law. The Oneida case is the seminal one upon which all other land claim litigation has since been based. Commenting on Ms. Locklear's work in the Oneida case, a leading Indian Law authority described her as "a brilliant oral advocate."

In addition to her significant litigation expertise, Ms. Locklear is a nationally recognized expert in the area of federal recognition of Indian tribes.  She has represented her own tribe, the Lumbee Tribe, from 1988 until 2011 in its quest for federal recognition.

Ms. Locklear is well versed in the legislative process as well. She represented the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation in settlement of its water rights and the enactment of federal legislation implementing the settlement in 1993 and in amendments to that settlement in 2006. In addition, Ms. Locklear has represented tribes in special recognition legislation and has testified before Congress numerous times over the last ten years in oversight and reform of the tribal acknowledgment process.

Ms. Locklear began her career as an attorney at the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colorado, and later transferred to the Washington D.C. office. As directing attorney for seven years in the Washington, D.C. office, Ms. Locklear supervised significant litigation of Indian issues as well as the legislative work of the office. Ms. Locklear was a member of the board of Advisors for the Encyclopedia of Native Americans in the 20th Century and is a past member of the Board of Trustees for the University of North Carolina, Pembroke, and the College of Charleston Foundation Board. Ms. Locklear was awarded the Outstanding Woman of Color Award given by the National Institute of Women of Color in 1987, the Julian T. Pierce Award given by Pembroke State University in 1994, the 1995 Carpathian Award for Speaking Out, given by North Carolina Equity, the Parks Award for Community Service, given by North Carolina State University in 2003, the 2008 Kate Stoneman Award for outstanding achievement in the legal profession, given by Albany Law School, and the 2009 Distinguished Alumna Award, from the College of Charleston.  Ms. Locklear appears in the volume Notable Native Americans.

Ms. Locklear earned her law degree from Duke University School of Law and is a member of the Bars of Maryland, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia.  She also holds honorary doctorates from State University of New York, Oneonta, North Carolina State University, the College of Charleston, South Carolina, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Ms. Locklear is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and has two children.

2016- Lisa Broome, Ph.D '92
2015- Melissa Siegel, Ph.D '03
2014- James G. Hodge Jr., J.D., LLM '89
2013- Howard L. Hall, Ph.D '85
2012- Wills Geils, MD '88
2011- Beth Middleton Burke, J.D. '94
2010- Steve Swanson '89
  1. Graduate of the Honors Program/College at the College of Charleston
  2. Exemplary Professional Achievements
  3. Significant Contributions to Society
  4. Distinguished Service to the Honors College and the College of Charleston