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.