Missouri River Breaks + American Prairie Reserve

A seven-day field course in natural resources and Indian law in the context of an iconic western landscape, offered in collaboration with the University of Montana’s Summer Indian Law Program

with Professors Monte Mills + Michelle Bryan



The Law of People and Place 2023: Missouri River Breaks

This course is currently full - if you would like to be added to the waitlist, please reach out to us at [email protected]



This summer, explore the Missouri River Breaks National Monument on foot, by canoe, and in dialog, comparing federal, state, and tribal approaches to cultural and natural resource management. 

Learn about some of the key laws governing the Upper Missouri River and its environs, including the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, National Monument laws, rangelands laws, wildlife refuge laws, and the laws governing tribal sovereignty. Background readings drawn from history, policy, and ecology, as well as the Lewis & Clark Expedition journals, will provide a place-based context for our discussions. Aside from the law school faculty, students will hear from tribal representatives, ranchers, conservationists, federal and state land managers, and other stakeholders involved in management of this ecosystem. Themes explored will include pipeline and mining impacts on tribes, bison conservation in ranching country, balancing cultural protection and resource use, and wildlife management in a working landscape.




Early June (exact date TBA): One or two orientation calls on Zoom will help demystify the course and prepare you for your time in the field.

June 12 / DAY 1: The field course will begin midday in historic Fort Benton, Montana.

June 13-16 / DAYS 2, 3, 4, 5: We will take to the river, paddling tandem canoes through the Wild & Scenic Upper Missouri River Breaks. Along the way we will hike, read, discuss, and soak in the history and beauty of this important American waterway.

June 16-18 / DAYS 5, 6, 7: After four days on the water, we’ll leave the river near Judith Landing and transfer to the American Prairie Reserve for two more nights of exploration, analysis, and discussion. After breakfast on July 18, we will wrap up and head our separate ways.


  • This field course is a component of the University of Montana’s Blewett School of Law‘s 16th annual Summer American Indian and Indigenous Law Program.
  • The field course is cross-listed for graduate credit in the University of Montana’s Master of Public Administration Program and open to students in Native American studies, journalism, environmental studies, social work and others who are interested.
  • Attorney and practitioner participation in this field course may be available, depending on the number of qualifying students. CLE credits have not yet been calculated for the course. Please contact us with questions.




The Law of People and Place is eligible for scholarships through The Freeflow Foundation. The American Prairie Reserve offers a scholarship for one Indigenous participant on this course, as well (more info to come!).

Because we believe teachers and students need regenerative outdoor experiences more than most, Freeflow always extends a small discount to contracted educators and enrolled students. We also offer a small discount to our alumni. Because we believe in paying our instructors, facilitators, support staff, and guides an equitable wage, we do not offer individual discounts that compromise the integrity of those wages. If you need financial support, please consider applying for our scholarships.

Your program cost includes:

  • the full course, materials, and associated academic credits. (Note that the University of Montana charges an additional $650 credit processing fee, payable through CyberBear.)
  • all meals and snacks on the field course (from lunch Day 1 through breakfast Day 7).
  • professional, licensed river guides, as well as personal flotation devices (PFDs), canoes, and all river safety gear.
  • all permitting, parking, and access fees.

Participants must bring their own camping gear (tent + sleeping bag).These items may be rented from UM’s Campus Recreation Outdoor Program or, in the case of tents, borrowed from Freeflow. (Please tell us if you need any camping gear and we will help you!) 

Guide gratuities are not included in the program cost. We strongly suggest giving your river guides some love, and we are happy to discuss norms for tipping – just ask.

Space on this adventure is limited to 12 participants. We will close registration once the roster is full. Please apply early. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. A 15% non-refundable deposit is required to save your spot. 

All deposits and payments are non-refundable. Payment plans are available. Payments can be made by mailing in a paper check, or by credit card or bank transfer via the payment link you'll receive once your application is approved.



Since 1989, family-owned and Montana-based Lewis & Clark Trail Adventures has been sharing the rivers of the West with visitors and locals alike. The Freeflow Institute is proud to work with LCTA as our licensed and permitted professional outfitter for this trip.



Make space for your creative work, movement, and new ideas this summer. Send us your questions and we’ll get in touch right away. If you know you’re ready to apply, click the APPLY NOW button.

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