Ms. Arlinda F. Locklear has specialized in federal Indian law for thirty-five years, representing 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. Ms. Locklear has represented tribes in the United States Supreme Court in several cases and was lead counsel in two such cases. In 1984, Ms. Locklear was the first Native American woman to appear in the Supreme Court, as 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 1985, she 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.
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, where she supervised significant litigation of Indian issues, as well as the legislative work of the office. She was a member of the Board of Advisors for the Encyclopedia of Native Americans in the 20th Century and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the University of North Carolina, Pembroke. 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 give by Pembroke State University in 1994, the 1995 Carpathian Award for Speaking Out, given by North Carolina Equity, and the Parks Award for Community Service, given by North Carolina State University in 2003. Ms. Locklear earned her law degree from Duke University School of Law and is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.