Ferguson-Bohnee appointed Faculty Director of the Indian Legal Program

Patty Ferguson-Bohnee

Patty Ferguson-Bohnee has been appointed Faculty Director of the Indian Legal Program. Ferguson-Bohnee, who also serves as Director of the Indian Legal Clinic and as Associate Clinical Professor of Law, has substantial experience in Indian law, election law and policy matters, voting rights, and status clarification of tribes.

She recently was featured in a cover story in ‘MultiCultural Law’ magazine.

She has testified before the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Louisiana State Legislature regarding tribal recognition, and has successfully assisted four Louisiana tribes in obtaining state recognition. She has represented tribal clients in administrative, state, federal, and tribal courts, as well as before state and local governing bodies and proposed revisions to the Real Estate Disclosure Reports to include tribal provisions. She has assisted in complex voting rights litigation on behalf of tribes, and she has drafted state legislative and congressional testimony on behalf of tribes with respect to voting rights’ issues.

Before joining the College in 2008, Professor Ferguson-Bohnee clerked for Judge Betty Binns Fletcher of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was an associate in the Indian Law and Tribal Relations Practice Group at Sacks Tierney P.A. in Phoenix. As a Fulbright Scholar to France, she researched French colonial relations with Louisiana Indians in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Professor Ferguson-Bohnee, a member of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian tribe, serves as the Native Vote Election Protection Coordinator for the State of Arizona.

Scholarship named for Tsosie receives $10,000 pledge

Rebecca Tsosie

A new scholarship named for Professor Rebecca Tsosie, currently on sabbatical leave from the Indian Legal Program, has been established with a $10,000 pledge from Dr. Gary Weiss and his wife, Cathleen, the parents of Melissa Dempsey, who graduated from the program in May 2011. 

The Rebecca Tsosie Spirit of Excellence Award will be given each year to the student who is most committed to the ideals of the program and plans to serve the legal needs of Native communities.

Weiss, said Tsosie was a great influence on his daughter’s life, and her choice to attend the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. 

“The first time we visited ASU, we met Professor Tsosie and I was extremely impressed,” Weiss said. “She was very helpful talking about the school and community and excited and energetic. When we walked out of that meeting, I turned to Melissa and said, ‘There’s no question this is the place you should go. We don’t need to look any further.’ 

“In the following three years, I continued to be impressed, and we wanted to do whatever we could to help other students have the same experience, to have enough money that they could participate in a law journal without having to worry about where every single penny was coming from.” 

Interim Dean Douglas Sylvester said the scholarship illustrates the strength of the Indian Legal Program. 

“The Tsosie scholarship is a perfect example of how the community that exists within the Indian Legal Program – a community lovingly created by Rebecca Tsosie in her many years as Executive Director of the Program – creates a bond between student, faculty, and family that inspires people to give back,” Sylvester said. “This gift, directed to students in a time when tuition has greatly increased, will strengthen those bonds and provides a lasting legacy befitting of Rebecca’s role and vision for the Program. 

“On behalf of the College of Law, I thank the Weiss’s for their generous gift–it will be put to great use.” 

Kate Rosier, Executive Director of the Indian Legal Program, said the award honors Tsosie’s contributions to the program. 

“The ILP wanted to do something special for Rebecca to thank her for her 15 years of service as the ILP Executive Director,” Rosier said. “We thought this scholarship for students was perfect to honor her.” 

Tsosie said she was thrilled. 

“I am extremely proud of this award, which is representative of the support and importance that President (Michael M.) Crow and Provost (Elizabeth D.) Capaldi place on serving the needs of Native students and tribal communities,” Tsosie said. “There is a legacy here at ASU, from the first days of the law school, when Judge William C. Canby Jr. taught the first federal Indian law classes and worked with tribal courts, to (former Navajo President) Peterson Zah, who was a Special Advisor to the president, to Diane Humetewa, who has taken on that role, and to LuAnn Leonard, the first Native member of the Arizona Board of Regents. 

“Because of the support of these leaders, and the generous donations of caring individuals, such as Gary and Cathleen Weiss, the Native students at ASU are well-cared for,” Tsosie said. 

Tsosie said Dempsey, who graduated in June, would have been an ideal candidate for the award. 

“She saw Native issues in a broad consciousness and on an international level and worked to prepare herself to be able to serve on that level,” Tsosie said. 

“She was always prepared, outstanding academically, and wrote a beautiful paper on environmental justice in Native communities. She was involved in the Native American Law Students Association and had a spirit of serving Native people. She also helped found the new Law Journal for Social Justice.” 

“Our treasured ILP alumni also are examples of this,” Tsosie said. “They’re serving in tribal, state and federal governments and in private practice, doing work far beyond what we ever imagined, with impeccable ethics. They are a model for our current students to emulate in professional conduct with their peers, students, faculty and the tribal community.” 

Melissa Dempsey said she was surprised when her father made the donation. 

“I think my father felt compelled to contribute this money to the scholarship because he, too, feels strongly about increasing the legal rights of Native people,” Melissa Dempsey said. “From day one, he wanted me to attend Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law because of its Indian Legal Program.” 

Dempsey said that she had studied Tsosie’s writings while earning her master’s degree at New York University, where her thesis focused on indigenous human rights and environmental justice issues. She was excited about meeting Tsosie when she first came to visit the College of Law. 

“Like many of the ILP staff members, Professor Tsosie made me feel welcome, and I knew she was one of those rare professors who wanted to build relationships with her students. She was such a caring professor, as she always made time in her busy schedule to meet with me.” 

Dempsey said that after she came to the College of Law, Tsosie helped her as a mentor and a friend and inspired Dempsey to help start the Law Journal for Social Justice

“One of the things I respect most about Professor Tsosie is that she inspires all students, Native and non-Native alike, to be interested in Native legal issues,” Dempsey said. “It is important to encourage non-Native students in this area of the law, so they, too, can at least understand the perspectives and history of Native people.”

Humetewa named Professor of Practice

 Diane Humetewa

Diane Humetewa, the first Native American woman to be
appointed as a U.S. Attorney has been named a
Professor of Practice for the College of Law.

Humetewa, a 1993 graduate f the College of Law, has served
on the College of Law’s Indian Legal Advisory Committee
since 1997.

She also is serving as Special Advisor to the President for American Indian Affairs for Arizona State University President Michal M. Crow, and continues to practice in the tribal affairs and natural resources areas with the law firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, LLP.

“ASU is committed to working with Arizona’s tribes to bring more Native American students to the university,” Crow said. “Diane Humetewa will provide advice and counsel to ASU on its efforts to design and implement programs and initiatives to better serve Native American students and to partner with Arizona’s Indian tribal governments.”

Humetewa served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona and as counsel for the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Subcommittee, then chaired by Arizona Sen. John McCain.

She takes over the duties previously handled by former Navajo President Peterson Zah, who has returned to work for his Navajo Nation.

Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Faculty Director of the Indian Legal Program, said the Program is thrilled to have Humetewa join its ranks.

“It’s a great opportunity to have such a distinguished and accomplished Native woman serve as a model and inspiration for our students,” Ferguson-Bohnee said.  

Douglas Sylvester, Interim Dean, said the College of Law is honored to have Humetewa join the faculty.  

“Diane is an exciting addition to our Indian Legal Program,” Sylvester said. “We know she will be a great resource to our students and faculty, alike.”

Humetewa also will be chairperson of the ASU Tribal Liaison Advisory Committee, serve on the Provost’s Native American Advisory Council, and as legal counsel and in an advisory capacity with ASU in its relations with Native American tribal governments.

Humetewa said she is looking forward to discovering opportunities the university offers to Native American students. She is also excited to explore how higher education at ASU has evolved during the years since she graduated, with the addition of new campuses and advances such as the variety of course now taught online.

“ASU has changed in terms of its ability to reach outside of Tempe,” Humetewa said. “One of the comments most often heard among tribal leaders is that providing higher education opportunities to tribal members is an important goal. There’s a real priority placed on providing as much assistance to tribal members or identifying and tackling the roadblocks to education in the native communities.”

This can be challenging in an environment where nationally approximately 50 percent of Native American students don’t obtain a high-school diploma.

Humetewa, a member of the Hopi tribe, was born and raised in Arizona. She started school on the Hualapai Reservation. Her father worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and traveled throughout Arizona’s Indian Country, often taking her with him. She attended public high school in the Valley, but ties to her family and culture kept her close to the Hopi reservation. She received her bachelor’s degree from ASU in 1987.

“At the time, Indian children were still attending boarding schools far away from the reservation,” Humetewa recalled.

 

ILP students praise tribal advocacy course in Washington, D.C.

Several students from the Indian Legal Program traveled to Washington, D.C., over fall break for the class, Federal Advocacy for the Tribal Client, taught by professors Carl Artman, and Kevin Gover, who is also director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The students heard from attorneys, politicians and lobbyists, who shared their insights about working on Native issues in the Beltway. They met Larry Echo Hawk, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, and Sen. Daniel Kahikina Akaka of Hawaii. They also watched Artman testify at an oversight hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on “The Carcieri Crisis: The Ripple Effect on Jobs, Economic Development and Public Safety in Indian Country.”

“This class provided an intriguing glimpse behind the D.C. curtain, exposing opportunities and challenges for those of us fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples,” said Benjaman Maresca, a third-year student.

Speakers included:

  • Allison Binney (Class of 2000), who served as staff director and chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs from 2007-2011, and is now a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP\
  • Charlie Galbraith (Class of 2007), who is Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement at the White House
  • Holly Macarro, who served as the served as Director of the Office of Native American Affairs at the Democratic National Committee and in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and is now a lobbyist and partner at Ietan Consulting
  • Aureen Martin, who served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, was senior counsel to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and currently is the lobbyist for Spirit Rock Consulting
  • Chris Fluhr, Chief of Staff, Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs
  • Rhonda Harjo, Deputy Chief Counsel, Minority Staff, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

“I was very impressed by the quality and dedication of the people in Washington fighting to protect the rights of Native Americans,” said Michael J. Payne, a third-year law student. “This class opened my eyes to some of the critical issues in Indian Country and the importance of having dedicated, well-educated people on the ground to help carve out legislative solutions.”

Kevin Heade, also a third-year law student, said the course brought the academic discussion of policymaking alive by giving students a rare opportunity to explore how personal dynamics influence the decision making process.

“Washington, D.C., can be an intimidating and confusing place,” Heade said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to get an inside scoop under the direction of two former Assistant Secretaries of Indian Affairs, lobbyists and Congressional staffers. Federal Advocacy for the Tribal Client has helped me learn about what to do and what not to do if I ever get the opportunity to promote tribal sovereignty-oriented policies in D.C.”

Richard Breuninger, who is working on an Master of Legal Studies, said it was one of the best classes he has taken.

“Without question, this is the most beneficial class in the College of Law for detailing an immersion into the complexities of the tribal client’s need for skilled and experienced advocacy,” Breuninger said.

Indian Law Ethics CLE

Indian Law Ethics Mini CLE Conference

Get your required Professional Responsibility / Ethics CLE credits in one short afternoon!  3.0 credits for AZ and CA.  NM approval pending.

Dec 2 – Noon to 3:15 pm.  

Lunch will be provided
Agenda, speaker information, and online registration at http://conferences.asucollegeoflaw.com/indianlawethics/
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, Armstrong Hall, Great Hall

Indian Law Ethics Mini CLE Conference

Indian Law Ethics Mini CLE Conference

Get your required Professional Responsibility / Ethics CLE credits in one short afternoon!  3.0 credits for AZ and CA.  NM approval pending.

Dec 2 – Noon to 3:15 pm.  

Lunch will be provided.
Agenda, speaker information,  and online registration at http://conferences.asucollegeoflaw.com/indianlawethics/
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, Armstrong Hall, Great Hall

Students in Indian Legal Program use fellowships to pursue ‘dream summer’

Joe Keene, a third-year law student at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, was able to work for his Osage tribe this summer thanks to an Indian Rights Fellowship funded by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Keene worked in the Osage Nation Attorney General’s Office, writing constitutional amendments and updating civil and criminal legislative matters. 

“It’s really opened my eyes as to what goes on in the legal field,” Keene said. “Here in law school we’re just in a little cocoon, but out there it’s not as cookie-cutter.” 

Keene and five other College of Law students received fellowships that allowed them to volunteer for Native American entities from Washington, D.C., to Oklahoma. 

The fellows found positions they wanted and submitted proposals that included expenditures. 

The students were able to pursue their dream summer, while eliminating the burden of financial strain, according to Kate Rosier, Director of the Indian Legal Program.

 “It was so well-received by the students and their placements that we have another grant request to continue the fellowship program,” Rosier said.

Keene said the fellowship put him in a position where he could see the top-tier of the judiciary system work. 

“Just being able to be in meeting with the chief and chairmen, I’ll always remember it,” Keene said. 

Keene received his undergraduate degree at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, and said the College of Law is the perfect school for those wanting to be involved with Indian law. 

“The school does a lot of work with tribes in the area, and it’s a nice backdrop to Indian law as a career,” said Keene. 

Stephanie Whisnant, a second-year law student, worked at the Native American Rights Fund in Washington, D.C. 

“I felt like I had to pinch myself,” said Whisnant, a member of the Osage Nation. “I was impressed with the volume of Indian law and the level of sophistication of the attorneys.”

From the first day of her 10-week stay, Whisnant said she was immersed in the field, writing memos and reviewing amicus briefs. 

She also was able to sit in on court rulings for important Indian legislation. 

“To see the oral argument and to read the opinion then going to the hearings was amazing,” Whisnant said. “It has been extremely influential in the sense that I would like to return to D.C.” 

Whisnant, who has a degree in Native American Studies from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., said she is extremely grateful to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community for their grant because she would not have been able to fund her summer experience herself. 

“Knowing it was going to students outside their tribe was really generous,” Whisnant said.