Darren Modzelewski

Darren Modzelewski

L.L.M. Student, Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program, James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona


Darren is currently completing his L.L.M. (Masters in law) degree in the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona. Before moving to Arizona, Darren earned his Ph.D in anthropology and J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and his B.A. in history and anthropology (with honors) from Brown University.

Darren’s Ph.D dissertation entitled, Constructing Native American Identity within the Context of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, investigated and re-evaluated archaeological collections used to define pre-contact Native American cultural boundaries in the California Delta region. This work was done in partnership with the Tachi-Yokuts tribe as part of their ongoing repatriation efforts. 

As a law student, Darren interned with the Berkeley Law International Human Rights Clinic where he drafted memoranda and provided human rights research and analysis to the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He also clerked for the Native American Rights Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Indian Law Resource Center.

Presently, his research and advocacy focuses on how Federal Indian law, International Human Rights law, and the principles of the environmental justice movement and Indigenous archaeology can be combined for protection, preservation, and promotion of Indigenous cultural heritage and property. As of February 2014, he is developing a project that seeks to address the following question: why do some approaches to Indigenous heritage management work and others not? More specifically, this project will explore why traditional legal approaches are not working and why non-standard approaches are finding success. 

Photo: J. Stephen (Faces of Archaeology Project)