Mitchell student wins national writing competition

Fourth-year William Mitchell student Rachel Vesely has won a national writing competition sponsored by the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy at Northeastern University School of Law.

Rachel Vesely

The competition solicited papers from law students across the country on topics related to human rights or human rights-based approaches to social justice.

Vesely’s paper, which she originally wrote for her Tribal Law course at Mitchell, explored how Indian tribes can maintain their cultures through food sovereignty, which is achieved when community members have access to culturally acceptable, nutritious, and sustainable food. Specifically, she focused on how the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin has implemented unique environmental codes and practices that make it successful in the realm of food sovereignty.

“I have always been fascinated by Native American history and law,” said Vesely. “With farmers markets and ‘buying local’ becoming more popular in our society, I thought it would be interesting to explore how Native Americans are contributing to these practices.”

In the paper, Vesely says the Oneida Tribe’s cultural identity and traditional values have been revitalized as a result of their ability to achieve food sovereignty through collaborations with the Wisconsin state government, the federal government, and two Tribal ordinances that address water resources and fishing rights.

“Food sovereignty is necessary to help us build relationships between others, our community, and our culture,” Vesely said. “This is why it’s so important to Indian tribes.”

Papers were judged on originality, the quality of writing and analysis, exhaustiveness of research, and readiness for publication.

For winning, Vesely received $500 and an invitation to present her paper at the Program on Human Rights and Global Economy’s 2013 conference in Boston. Her paper will also be published on the Program on Human Rights and Global Economy’s website.