Native Vote: Preparing for 2022

Last month, the White House issued the “Report of the Interagency Steering Group on Native American Voting Rights” after hosting a series of regional consultations with tribal leaders and members and engaging in listening sessions with organizations advocating for improved tribal voting rights. ASU Law’s Indian Legal Clinic participated in the White House consultations as part of the clinic’s Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project. The White House report explores the problems that Native American voters face and presents best practices and recommendations to mitigate and eliminate barriers that Native American voters encounter. The report featured the clinic’s polling locator tool created by Native Vote Fellow Torey Dolan (’19). 

In response to a special action petition filed in the Arizona Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of early voting in Arizona, Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Judy Dworkin (JD ’86) represented the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona, Inc. (ITCA) in an amicus brief in the case. The amicus explained the history of Native American disenfranchisement in Arizona, that early voting is constitutional, that all early voting options are needed to address the unique barriers experienced by Native American voters, and that eliminating drop boxes and in-person early voting may expose Arizona to federal litigation. Native Vote Fellows Dolan and Blair Tarman-Toner (’20) assisted in drafting the brief.

The ITCA hosts monthly “Native Vote Strategy Sessions” to assist tribal governments in planning for upcoming elections. Native Vote Fellows Dolan and Tarman-Toner provided a legislative update at the “March Strategy Session.” Dolan and Tarman-Toner are continuing to track bills in the Arizona State Legislature that impact voting in tribal communities. 

We appreciate our valuable Native Vote partners and the ongoing efforts that impact our voting power.


Blair Tarman-Toner (’21)
Native Vote Fellow, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

ILC Students at Ak-Chin Court

On March 15, Gwendolyn Bell (2L) and David Streamer (3L) appeared in court for the first time as student attorneys. Bell and Streamer represented their clients at arraignment hearings at the Ak-Chin Indian Community Court in Maricopa, Arizona. Although both students had just returned from Nebraska where they participated in the ILP traveling class, “Contemporary Issues in Tribal Economic Development,” they entered the hearings with successfully negotiated plea agreements and their clients were released later that day after the judge accepted the plea agreements. 

The Indian Legal Clinic appreciates the guidance of Chief Judge Yancy Jencsok provides to clinic students during their formative career experiences.

Meeting Estate Planning Needs

Over the past month, the Indian Legal Clinic (ILC) has continued to assist tribal members with their estate planning. On Feb. 25-26, Professor Helen Burtis (’07) and clinic students Gwendolyn Bell (2L), Ryan Maxey (2L), Lena Neuner (2L), Claire Newfeld (2L), Ravynn Nothstine (2L) and David Streamer (3L) travelled to Santa Rosa Rancheria, California to draft and execute wills for the Tachi Yokut Tribe.

Students enjoyed the opportunity to interact directly with tribal members and assist them with completing a challenging life step. This was the first Wills Clinic with the Tachi Yokut Tribe. The ILC thanks the Tachi Yokut Tribal Council, especially Councilman Bryce Baga, for organizing and sponsoring the Indian Wills Clinic. 

ILC presentation David Streamer, Gwendolyn Bell, Claire Newfeld

On March 2, Bell, Newfeld and Streamer presented live over Zoom to the Elders Council of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut. The students’ presentation included information on the importance of estate planning and how to prepare for the upcoming Wills Clinic. Members of the Elders Council were actively engaged in the presentation and prepared with many questions that students expertly fielded. 

The ILC is grateful to Chairperson Marjorie Colebut-Jackson and members of the Elders Council for joining the informational presentation and students look forward to meeting the Mashantucket Pequot elders again during the remote Indian Wills Clinic later this month.