It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the passing of Alexander (Alex) Tallchief Skibine, the S.J. Quinney Endowed Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. Alex’s passing is an enormous loss for both our college community and the field of Indian Law.
Alex was a proud member of the Osage Indian Nation. After receiving his B.A. in Political Science and French Literature from Tufts University, he earned his J.D. at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Alex began practicing as an attorney at the Institute for the Development of Indian Law, then served as regional representative for the commissioner of Indian Affairs and as deputy counsel for Indian Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Alex was appointed to the faculty at the University of Utah College of Law in 1989, and it was here that he spent his entire academic career.
Alex was a towering figure in the field of Indian Law. When he entered legal academia, very few people taught or produced scholarship in Indian Law—and fewer still were Native themselves. Alex was among an early group of Native legal scholars whose trailblazing efforts were pivotal in establishing the field and teaching it in law school. He went on to produce a prolific body of work in Indian Law, earning a wide reputation as one of the field’s leading scholars.
We at the College of Law were so fortunate to know Alex personally—as a much-loved teacher, mentor, and pillar of our community. He taught torts, administrative law and federal Indian law for many years, and countless Utah Law alumni are among his former students.
Alex was also a wonderfully warm presence on the college’s faculty. We knew him as someone who was endlessly kind, reliably good-humored, and always ready to offer his insight and wisdom for the benefit of our academic community. Many of us looked to him as carrying the spirit of our law school.
Alex’s impact on the College of Law—and on the field of Indian Law as a whole—cannot be overstated. He was truly one of a kind, and he will be sorely missed.
The College of Law has created an endowed scholarship in Alex’s name for students interested in studying Indian law. Memorial contributions may be made here.
Elizabeth Kronk Warner
Jefferson B. and Rita E. Fordham Presidential Dean