ILC Reflections: Hearty Experiences

Student attorneys are instrumental in the progress and movement of the Indian Legal Clinic. While they work with real clients and real issues, they gain invaluable experience for their law career. 

This has been an interesting year for everyone. In their third and last year in law school, it looks very different from their first year at ASU Law. Dustin Rector (3L) and Blair Tarman (3L) open up about their time in the Indian Legal Clinic and shed light on how this experience has better prepared them.

In his words, Dustin Rector writes:

This year, Native Vote faced a unique challenge through the COVID-19 pandemic. I helped Native Vote navigate the difficulties the pandemic created for our volunteers and helped ensure that the virus remains contained during Election Day activities. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, a consistent issue I addressed on Election Day were voter registration and provisional ballot issues. Despite these challenges, the moment that stands out to me was having the chance to return to my community in the Fort Apache Reservation and serve other tribal members. 

The reason I chose to participate in the Indian Legal Clinic was because I wanted to apply the things I have been learning in my other classes. Before entering the Indian Legal Clinic, I had a loose understanding of what trial work looked like and I did not know how to use the things I learned in my classes in the real world. The Indian Legal Clinic has helped me learn about trial skills and has helped me become more confident and comfortable in using those skills.

If you want to understand what working in a law firm looks and feels like or if you want to work in a law firm that prioritizes Native issues, then I highly recommend enrolling in the Indian Legal Clinic. I also recommend prioritizing your time and being open to new learning experiences, no matter how challenging it is. Lastly, I would like to remind interested students that it is ok to make mistakes because the Clinic Director is there to guide you at all times. 

In her words, Blair Tarman writes:

This year, I participated as an Election Protection volunteer answering phone calls for the Native Vote Hotline. It is important to protect Native voting rights because the right to vote is a fundamental right guaranteed to every American, and the First People should not be denied their right to make their voices heard. 

I came across several inquiries regarding whether or not there were any transportation services being offered to and from the polls. This goes to show how difficult it can be for voters in tribal communities to travel to their designated polling locations due to lack of personal or public transportation options. Additionally, several callers wanted to know whether it was possible for them to vote online. 

I chose to participate in the Indian Legal Clinic because I wanted to gain practical experience working with real clients. This experience has taught me so much about working with tribal clients and serving tribal communities. I cannot overstate how much I have learned from participating in the Indian Legal Clinic. 

If I could offer any advice to someone considering enrolling in the ILC, it would be this: Do it. The ILC offers a unique opportunity for students to learn by doing. Being personally responsible for  cases and knowing that clients are depending upon you will only render you more motivated to give your best effort. 

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Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

Arizona Native Vote Changemakers

The Indian Legal Clinic student attorneys, ILP affiliates and volunteers worked on the Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project (AZNVEP) for months to prepare for the general election on Nov. 3. The number of this year’s Election Protection volunteers made for a great success despite the circumstances! We had 100 volunteers, which is more than in past years, who assisted Native voters at over 60 polling locations in Arizona on Election Day through the Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project. The ILC team included Native Vote Fellow Torey Dolan (’19) as lead, Brendan Clark (3L), Aspen Miller (3L), Dustin Rector (3L), MacArthur Stant (3L),and Blair Tarman (3L) under the supervision of Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee. Student attorneys provided virtual training sessions for volunteers, ran the hotline and interacted with voters on-site.

Through partnerships with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA), the Native American Bar Association of Arizona (NABA-AZ), the Arizona Election Protection Coalition and volunteers, Native Vote served as an important resource for hundreds of Native voters during the 2020 election. Over 250 Native American voters called the Native Vote Election Protection hotline for assistance on Election Day, and many voters called prior to the election to check voter registration and polling locations, and answered questions regarding general election information.  

With the extraordinary commitment from volunteers—ILP students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends—an Election Protection volunteer was on-site and available at the following locations: Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, Gila River Indian Community, Tohono O’odham Nation, White Mountain Apache, San Carlos Apache, Pascua Yaqui, Yavapai Apache, Yavapai Prescott, Quechan, Cocopah Indian Tribe, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, and the Ak-Chin Indian Community. 

We thank our ASU community for the support, which released the ASU Now article on election day that highlighted the greater work of Native Vote as well as the innovative Polling Locator Tool created just this year with US Digital Response. Watch the video  to see how this tool was used by Native voters.

Two of our ILC students Miller and Stant who traveled to Hopi and Navajo Nation were highlighted in an Arizona Republic article

Ferguson-Bohnee was quoted in the Center for Public Integrity article and Arizona Republic articles here and here

On Nov. 11, Dolan was interviewed by Native America Calling to give a recap about Native Vote. She was also quoted in The State Press articles here and here

Find more coverage from Ferguson-Bohnee, Dolan and Brian Garcia (’20) in this VICE article, which included Arizona Native Vote assisting with extension hours to a polling site. 

We appreciate our partners and all who volunteered across Indian Country to ensure Arizona’s tribal communities and tribal members had access to the polls!

Professor Reed published his article in the SSRN

Professor Trevor Reed has released his article, Fair Use As Cultural Appropriation, to the SSRN.

Abstract: Over the last four decades, scholars from diverse disciplines have documented a wide variety of cultural appropriations from Indigenous peoples and the harms these inflict. And yet, there are currently no federal laws other than copyright that limit the appropriation of song, dance, oral history, and other forms of intangible culture. Copyright is admittedly an imperfect fit for combatting cultural appropriations – it is a porous form of protection, allowing some publicly beneficial uses of protected works without the consent of the copyright owner under certain exceptions, foremost being copyright’s fair use doctrine. This article evaluates fair use as a gate-keeping mechanism for unauthorized uses of culture. As codified in the 1976 Copyright Revision Act, the fair use doctrine’s four-part test is supposed to help fact finders determine whether an unauthorized use of another’s work is reasonable in light of copyright’s goals of promoting cultural production. But, while the fair use test has evolved to address questions about the purpose behind an appropriation, the amount and substance of the work used, and the effects of the appropriation on the market for the work, the vital inquiry about the “nature” of the original work and the impact of unauthorized appropriation on its creative environment has been all but forgotten by lower federal courts. Combining doctrinal analysis, settler-colonial theory, and ethnographic fieldwork involving ongoing appropriations of copyrightable Indigenous culture, this article shows how this “forgotten factor” in the fair use analysis is key to assessing the real impacts unauthorized appropriations have on culturally diverse forms of creativity. Thus, if we are committed to the development of creativity in all of its varieties and natures, a rehabilitation of the forgotten factor is both urgent and necessary.

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NAGPRA: Celebrating a 30-year milestone

On Nov. 16, the ILP commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) with a webinar “NAGPRA: 30 Years and Beyond.” The roundtable focused on how the law has empowered Tribes to reclaim their ancestors and cultural items from museums and other federally funded institutions, and what changes are needed in both the law and its implementation to better serve Indian Country.

Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee), writer, curator, policy advocate and president of the Morning Star Institute, shared her insights into the important role NAGPRA plays in reversing the harms done to Indigenous ancestors and culture by researchers, federal agencies, and museums. She also spoke to the need for Tribes and their advocates to fully explore NAGPRA’s potential. James Riding In (Pawnee), founding member and associate professor in the department of American Indian Studies at ASU, spoke about his experiences helping Tribes implement NAGPRA and addressed some of ways Tribes can better negotiate with holding institutions. Shannon O’Loughlin, executive director and attorney with the Association on American Indian Affairs, discussed how NAGPRA should not be another way for museums to gather more data from Tribes to fill in gaps left by poor research—It is an enforceable law museums must respect with repatriation as its end goal. ASU Law’s Dean Emeritus Paul Bender, who facilitated the panel for National Dialogue on Tribal-Museum Relations that led to the passage of NAGPRA, moderated the event.

“The panelists’ insights into the origins of NAGPRA really brought the law into perspective,” said Professor Trevor Reed. “They showed us just how much the law can do for Tribal Nations as we build capacity and push to revise and develop it going forward.”

We’re grateful to these experts for sharing their time and knowledge

Pechanga Wills Clinic

Student Attorneys Serving Tribes

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Jens Camp (3L) remotely counsels an estate planning client via Zoom during the October Indian Wills Clinic with the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.

As part of broader efforts to help tribal communities address COVID-19 implications, Indian Legal Clinic students increased estate planning assistance in Indian Country. Students met  remotely with 14 members of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians on drafting estate planning documents in October.

Nineteen wills, financial powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney were executed during the project. The clients were grateful for the students’ “hard work, attention to detail, and graciousness,” said Robyn Delfino, Tribal Treasurer of the Pechanga Band, who managed administration of the program.

“We are thankful our students have the opportunity to bring this important service to the citizenry of the Pechanga Band,” said Professor Helen Burtis (’07). “These estate planning clinics give students unparalleled opportunities to counsel clients and learn the intricacies of drafting wills that conform with the American Indian Probate Reform Act.”

Students who participated are Mariah Black Bird (3L), Jens Camp (3L), Brendon Clark (3L), Aspen Miller (3L), Dustin Rector (3L) and MacArthur Stant (3L). They were supervised by Michele Fahley, Deputy General Counsel of the Pechanga Band, Mark Vezzola, Directing Attorney of the Escondido California Indian Legal Services, and Burtis.

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Helen Burtis (’07)
Faculty Associate, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

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Job Opportunity – Associate Attorney

Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson, & Perry LLP is seeking an associate attorney with 1-5 years of experience in transactional and other Indian law experience for our San Diego, CA office.  Interested applicants should have strong credentials and a commitment to representing Native American interests, and a clerkship is also highly preferred. 

Sonosky, Chambers is a national law firm dedicated to representing Native American interests in a wide range of endeavors – including trial and appellate litigation, federal Indian law, tribal law, Indian self-determination and self-governance matters, transportation and infrastructure, natural resources, and economic development, among others.  More detail about the firm is available at www.sonosky.com.

To apply, candidates should send an application that includes a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, and a writing sample to Colin Hampson at champson@sonoskysd.com.  Or visit the website at http://www.sonosky.com/careers.html to apply.  This position is open until filled, but applicants should apply by January 15, 2020.  Applicants must be licensed to practice law in California, or willing to become licensed.

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