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May 4, 2006
Contact: Crystal Mai, School of Law, (785) 864-9208.

National Native American law group presents top awards to two KU students

LAWRENCE — Two Native American students in the University of Kansas School of Law have been named students of the year for their class by the National Native American Law Students Association.

Elizabeth “Liz” Joan Cook of Peshawbestown, Mich., and member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, is the association’s Third-Year Law Student of the Year, and Sarah Elizabeth Craker of Monett, Mo., and member of the Chickamauga band of Cherokees, is Second-Year Law Student of the Year.

They received the awards in April at the annual Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. The association’s executive committee selects the award recipients.

Cook will graduate May 21 with a law degree and a certificate in Indian law. She has accepted a position as tribal attorney for her tribe. Previously, Cook served as a law clerk for the tribe and has also worked for Michigan Indian Legal Services as a research assistant. She is a graduate of Davenport University in Traverse City, Mich. As a KU student, Cook has worked with programs to recruit Haskell Indian Nations University graduates and organized a toy drive at KU to provide gifts for children of Haskell students. Cook is a single mother with one daughter, Perla, age 24.

Craker earned a bachelor’s degree at Missouri Southern State College in Joplin, Mo., where she founded a chapter of the Native American Student Association. Craker is also graduate of Bacone College in Muscogee, Okla., where she received the National Collegiate Minority Leadership Award. In addition to her National Native American Law Students Association activities, Craker works in KU’s Tribal Judicial Support Clinic. She is the daughter of Gloria and Richard Craker of Monett, Mo. Her mother, who is Shawnee, taught her daughter basket weaving, beadwork and spinning. Craker also makes all of her own traditional clothing. Her father is a Quapaw and Cherokee. He is the appointed spiritual leader of the Chickamaugas band of Cherokees. Following her father’s example of serving others, Craker teaches dance, stories and crafts to children’s groups and others. She is a Monett High School graduate.

The Native American Law Students Association is a nationwide organization of native and non-native law students, committed to promoting the study of law by Native Americans. They also promote the overall study and development of Indian law and the success of Indian law students.

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