Your vote, your voice

2022 is another year that has seen Arizona Native voters and their rights disproportionally challenged on the ballot. “Native advocates say voter ID rules in Proposition 309 could disenfranchise Arizona Indigenous voters,” said Native Vote fellow Torey Dolan (’19) in her interview with the AZ Central. The article discusses the impact that Proposition 309 will have on Tribal communities if passed. Proposition 309 would limit the forms of identification that are acceptable for in-person voting and would eliminate many forms of Tribal identification that voters currently rely on.

Despite this ballot measure and redistricting issues, the Indian Legal Clinic’s Native Vote Election Protection team organized and strategized with its partners to remain steadfast leading up to Election Day. Dolan presented at the Tribal leaders meeting hosted by the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona and discussed the propositions’ impacts on Tribal communities and Native voters.

Indian Legal Clinic student attorneys Mallory Moore (3L) and Autumn Shone (3L) led and conducted two trainings for volunteers.

This year, 66 volunteers served as Election Protectors stationed at multiple polling locations to assist voters at 9 Tribal communities: the Ak-Chin Indian Community, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the Gila River Indian Community, the Navajo Nation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the San Carlos Apache Tribe, the Tohono O’odham Nation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

On Election Day, the Native Vote team worked with the Navajo Nation to assist in emergency litigation due to delays in the opening of a polling location in Many Farms, Arizona. Katherine Belzowski, an attorney with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice Economic and Community Development Unit, said “The Indian Legal Clinic was instrumental to the Navajo Nation’s success in the 2022 Election. ILC worked with the Navajo Department of Justice (NDOJ) to monitor state polling locations across the Nation. With ILC’s assistance NDOJ was able to timely investigate and respond every concern submitted to the ILC and NDOJ voting hotline.” 

Thank you to all volunteers, advocates and allies for serving as Election Protectors and organizing the Native Vote power! With your help, we were able to assist voters through the hotline and in the field, ensuring that Native voters were able to cast ballots free from intimidation and without undue challenges. This year’s ILC Native Vote leadership team includes dedicated ILP Native Vote Fellows Torey Dolan (’19) and Blair Tarman-Toner (’20), student attorney leads Mallory Moore (3L) and Autumn Shone (3L), and student attorneys Chad Edwards (3L), Brittany Habbart (3L), Michael LaValley (3L), and Ruben Zendejas (3L), under the supervision of Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee.

Indian Rights Summer Fellowship recipients

The Indian Legal Program has been partnering with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) and receives grant funding to offer Indian Rights Summer Fellowship, which allows students to design their summer job. The purpose of the Indian Rights Summer Fellowship is to promote public service in Indian country by providing funding to students who are working on legal issues affecting individual Indians or Indian Nations. The Fellowship provide students with an opportunity to undertake practical experiences with tribes, tribal/indigenous organizations, educational programs and/or nonprofits. This year, five students received the Indian Rights Summer Fellowship and share their summer job experiences.

Over the summer, Gwendolyn Bell (3L) worked with the Portland Area Indian Health Board on health policy projects and research. One of the projects she worked on was a Long-Term Care resource for Washington state, which provides detailed information on long-term health care services including information on staffing, building, care, and other requirements. It also includes sources for funding and other resources, and links to the Washington Administrative Code and Revised Code pertaining to that service. Bell also worked in making a resource for internal use of federal legislation and policy about Indian health. Finally, she assisted in preparing a bi-weekly legislation and policy update for member Tribes and organizations. The newsletter update presented information on new policies and legislation in the health care and Indian health areas, as well as information on town halls, Tribal leader meetings, and opportunities to write comments on pending policy. 

“I am incredibly grateful for the funding provided to me by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, as I would have been unable to accept this incredible opportunity otherwise,” Bell said. “I greatly enjoyed my experience this summer and learned a vast amount about the field which will help me in my career.”

Ashleigh Fixico (3L) had the honor of working with ILP alum, Judge Diane Humetewa (’93) in the Arizona Federal District Court. “Having the opportunity to be in the courtroom and experience live proceedings was the highlight of my law school career, which began during the height of COVID and virtual learning,” Fixico said. She enjoyed working with another ILP alum, Alexander Mallory (’19), a law clerk to Judge Humetewa. “He always provided helpful advice and the sincerest interest in you as a person. This summer was about growing up and accepting that my career as a student is almost over. I am thankful for Judge Humetewa and her chambers for taking me in and offering me space to grow into the individual I came to law school to become.”

Ryan Maxey (3L) spent the summer working as an intern for Denise Turner-Walsh, attorney general of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians. “It was an incredible opportunity where I got to utilize my knowledge of federal Indian law in a practical setting,” Maxey said. He researched and briefed the AG and other tribal government officials on evolving areas of federal law, including environmental and labor law, as they applied to the tribe. He also worked on fee-to-trust applications and helped draft HEARTH act-compliant residential leasing regulations. “I’m incredibly grateful that my Salt River Fellowship helped make this experience possible,” Maxey said.

Photographed with Bryan Newland, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, at a meeting of the California Fee-To-Trust Consortium
Photographed with Bryan Newland, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, at a meeting of the California Fee-To-Trust Consortium

“I’m incredibly grateful that my Salt River Fellowship helped make this experience possible,” Maxey said.

Sophie Staires (2L) worked as a legal intern for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Prosecutor’s Office. She worked closely with the criminal team and was able to participate in a number of dependency cases as well. She hit the ground running and was tasked with reviewing new police reports and helping prosecutors with charging decisions and drafting complaints. Before long she was assisting prosecutors by writing and filing motions, compiling documents for disclosure, and negotiating plea deals with defense advocates. Staires sat in on arraignments and hearings 3-4 days a week, and eventually obtained a license to speak in court. Now she is able to assist with weekly arraignments.

“Representing the Community in court is an honor and a privilege, and not one that I take lightly,” Staires said. “It is intimidating, but the attorneys are so supportive, making it the perfect place to work on litigation skills and build confidence.”

Over the summer, she collaborated with another fellow ILP intern, Alexandra Trousdale, on a research project: how different jurisdictions handle competency determinations and civil commitment. At the end of the summer, they presented on the Supreme Court decision Oklahoma v Castro-Huerta and its implications for tribal jurisdictions before the Native American Bar Association of Arizona (NABA-AZ) board.

“I think my favorite part of the summer was working with defense counsel to put together a plea deal,” she said. “It is an honor to have the trust of the prosecutors, and a relationship of mutual respect with the defense attorneys. My time at Salt River has shown me that it is possible to create a criminal justice system that is supportive, rehabilitative, and community oriented. It has been an incredible experience and has fueled my passion for serving tribal communities.”

Alexandra Trousdale (1L) worked for the Tribal Prosecutors Office at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community over the past summer. She had the opportunity to get a diverse taste of legal practice in both civil and criminal prosecution. Trousdale observed several court proceedings and provided insight in various cases, including criminal prosecution, mental health evaluation, and child dependency. She also drafted disclosure statements, deferred prosecution agreements and plea agreements and took lead in plea negotiations with defense attorneys. At end of the summer, she led a presentation with a fellow ILP intern, Sophie Staires, on the Castro-Huerta decision before the NABA-AZ board.

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.

ILP Students Advanced to Sweet 16

Two ASU Law students in the National Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) – Autumn Shone (2L) and Chad Edwards (2L) – made ILP proud by advancing to the Sweet 16 in the Virtual 30th Annual National NALSA Moot Court Competition Feb. 26-27. 

Coached by Professor Stacy Leeds and Native Vote Fellow Torey Dolan (’19), Shone and Edwards briefed and argued important issues regarding Indian religious freedom, treaty rights and property interests. 

“It was a great experience to talk about Indian law with two women who have so much knowledge and experience,” Shone said. “They encouraged us when it got hard and challenged us when we needed it.”

The competition consisted of writing a brief and rounds of virtual oral arguments, of which Shone and Edwards participated in three rounds. 

“It was challenging, but I was able to practice my research, writing and oral skills on an important topic that affects Indian country,” Shone said. 

“The most valuable thing that I learned aside from a better understanding of the legal issues presented in our moot court problem, would be the amount of support that the ILP gives to its students,” Edwards said. “I don’t think I could have had any better coaches and I felt more than prepared for the competition at all times.”

For their final practice, the team held an online session with Judge David B. Gass (JD ’94) and Jens Camps (’21). 

“They helped us greatly in our last practice before the competition,” Shone said.

After the moot court competition, Shone and Edwards travelled down the street and visited with Judge Gass and Camp.

Thanks to ILP’s extensive network of professors, staff, alumni and friends, Shone and Edwards were able to participate in multiple practice rounds with a variety of lawyers and legal professionals before the competition. 

Please join us in congratulating this year’s team! 

ILC at Local Tribal Courthouse

The Indian Legal Clinic started off the semester with a visit to the Ak-Chin Indian Community Tribal Courthouse on Jan. 21. Chief Judge Yancy Jencsok led the tour for Professor Helen Burtis (’07) and student attorneys Gwendolyn Bell (2L), Ryan Maxey (2L), Lena Neuner (2L), Claire Newfeld (2L), Ravynn Nothstine (2L), and David Streamer (3L). Clinic students will become authorized to practice law before the Ak-Chin Indian Community Court and represent defendants.

“I have never been to a tribal courthouse, so it was an awesome experience to see and tour the courthouse with Chief Judge Jencsok,” said Streamer. “It was refreshing and inspiring to hear about Chief Judge Jencsok’s work and positive experiences with tribal courts, but more importantly it was nice to see that tribal courts like Ak-Chin Indian Community are operating, growing and have knowledgeable staff and judges like Chief Judge Jencsok.”

“It’s an empowering feeling to see a tribe exercise their sovereignty and jurisdiction,” said Nothstine. 

“Tribal courts are a literal concrete expression of a tribe’s sovereignty and it was an honor to have this opportunity to speak to Judge Jencsok about the role of the court in the community while familiarizing myself with a court I’d be practicing in with the clinic,” said Maxey.

We appreciate the Ak-Chin Indian Community Tribal Courthouse and Chief Judge Jencsok for the continued support.

Celebrating Tribal Investments

San Manuel Band of Mission Indians

Last month, the Indian Legal Program celebrated the generosity of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians at the ASU California Center in downtown Los Angeles, located at the historic Herald Examiner building, for a special ribbon-cutting ceremony and the naming of Yuhaaviatam of San Manuel Event Center within the building. The naming of the space recognizes San Manuel’s $5 million gift for the recent renovation of the ASU California Center, and the tribe’s support for ASU Law’s Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs. 

San Manuel Chairman Ken Ramirez said it best: “Investing in education that underscores Native American law and tribal sovereignty is among the core values of the tribe.”

“Participating in the unveiling was an honor,” said Derrick Beetso (’10), director of ASU Law’s Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs. “The history of the Herald Examiner building, as described by Chairman Ramirez, indicates how special this event was for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and it was a pleasure to share in this experience. The Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs look forward to exploring new opportunities for innovative uses for the space, including practical learning experiences for our students.”

Read more in the ASU News article and review ASU Law’s video recap.

We are very happy some of our ILP students joined Professor Beetso, Professor Patty Ferguson-BohneeExecutive Director Kate Rosier and Professor Trevor Reed in this celebration, including: Ashleigh Fixico (2L), Noah Goldenberg (2L), Clayton Kinsey (1L), Francisco Olea (LLM), Sophie Staires (1L) and David Streamer (3L). During the trip, students documented and shared the experience on our Instagram for Student Takeover

Thank you, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, for your continued support!

ILP Family legacy

Native American Heritage Month

ASU's Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) president and 2L Ashleigh Fixico (Muscogee Creek Nation) rocking her mocs

As a team representing 10 tribes at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the Indian Legal Program aims to educate and celebrate on the ancestral lands of the Akimel O’odham. The program was established 33 years ago by the efforts of two ASU Law students – Gloria Kindig (’89) and LynDee Wells (’89). Over the years, we have excelled and built on that vision and created the Indian Legal Clinic, the Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project, the Indian Wills Clinic, the Pathway to Law Initiative, the Rosette LLP American Indian Economic Development Program, and the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs.

  • Kate Rosier (Comanche), ILP Executive Director and Assistant Dean of Institutional Progress
  • Patty Ferguson-Bohnee (Pointe-au-Chien), ILP Faculty Director and Indian Legal Clinic Director
  • Professor Robert Miller (Eastern Shawnee), Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar and Director of the Rosette LLP American Indian Economic Development Program
  • Professor Stacy Leeds (Cherokee), Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership
  • Professor Trevor Reed (Hopi), Associate Professor of Law
  • Professor Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes (’94) (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska), Professor of Practice and Director of the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Programs
  • Professor Derrick Beetso (’10) (Navajo), Director of the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Programs
  • Professor Helen Burtis (’07), Faculty Associate
  • Professor Lance Morgan (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska), Faculty Associate
  • Professor Pilar Thomas (Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona), Faculty Associate
  • Danielle Williams (Navajo), Program Coordinator Sr
  • Theresa Beaulieu (Stockbridge-Munsee), Program Coordinator
  • Honore Callingham (’18), Senior Specialist, Indian Legal Clinic
  • Torey Dolan (’19) (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), Native Vote Policy Fellow, Indian Legal Clinic
  • Blair Tarman (’21) (Chickasaw), Native Vote Policy Fellow, Indian Legal Clinic

In addition to the JD program, we also offer a Master of Laws (LLM) program and Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program. 

We’ve expanded our presence in Nebraska, California and Washington, D.C. We are a growing network because law is a growing field. Over 375 ILP students have graduated from ASU Law and over 150 received a certificate in Indian Law. 

Today, we are proud to have 72 students representing 36 tribes: 44 JD, 1 LLM and 27 MLS. 

To our entire ILP family: Happy Native American Heritage Month!

Impacts of Indian Gaming

The Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs hosted a presentation “Indian Gaming in Texas: Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas & Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. Texas” on Nov.10. Ronnie Thomas, treasurer for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, and Fred Petti, attorney for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, joined the ILP to discuss the history of Indian gaming in Texas and how Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas ended up before the Supreme Court. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe submitted amicus briefs in support of the matter since the holding could result in ground-sweeping changes in how Indian gaming is conducted in Texas.

Lunch was provided at this in-person event, which was also livestreamed so the ILP’s MLS and LLM online students could participate as well. Derrick Beetso (’10), director of the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs, said, “I really enjoyed this event. The representatives from the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe shared important and interesting perspectives on how amici can help further collective litigation goals in Indian Country. I thought it was an important and practical discussion to have that is not always explained in law school courses.” 

“I’m inspired by the actions of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe because the purpose of pursuing legal action was not solely about Indian gaming, but how this activity could serve the tribe for the next seven generations,” said 3L Hilary Edwards . “Mr. Thomas shared how his tribal community has benefitted from the tribal gaming facility, like supporting tribal members to achieve higher education. I was encouraged when Mr. Thomas said, ‘We encourage our tribal students who achieve higher education to get off-reservation experience and then bring that experience back to work for the tribe.’ This is precisely what I strive to accomplish. I desire to be qualified with experience to be able to contribute and serve my tribal community. These events further validate my decision to attend law school and further encourages me to continue on with the fight.”

Celebrating NALSA

Twelve ASU Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) students received the Native American Bar Association of Arizona (NABA-AZ) Scholarship for their academic achievement at the “NABA-AZ Seven Generations Virtual Awards Event and Silent Auction.” Congratulations to all the recipients, especially our ILP students: Hilary Edwards (3L), Dallon Echo Hawk (3L), Brittany Habbart (2L), Michael LaValley (2L), Victorialyn McCarthy (1L), Brianna Minjarez (3L), Cierra Moore (3L), Lena Neuner (2L), Taylor Norman (2L), Autumn Shone (2L), Alexandra Trousdale (1L) and Ruben Zendejas (2L). 

“NABA-AZ is proud to support these talented law students,” said NABA-AZ President and ILP Executive Director Kate Rosier. “The future is bright!”

We appreciate the committed support of NABA-AZ.

Nominated for The National Jurist magazine’s Law Student of the Year

David Streamer, JD Candidate 2022
Indian Legal Program, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University

David Streamer is a second-year law student from the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in Southern California. David was elected to serve his tribe as a tribal council member in 2018 and re-elected in 2019.

Deeply rooted
Born in his home on the reservation, David continues to serve his tribe while attending ASU Law, with his sole focus on making a positive impact in his community. He ran for council because he thinks young people need to step up and help be a bridge for reservation families. Wanting to create something special in the community for everyone, David is diving into his ASU Law classes as part of the college’s nationally recognized Indian Legal Program. He says ASU Law’s faculty and courses are teaching him how to better serve his tribal government so that he can apply these skills immediately.

Forging ahead
With the past year particularly challenging for David’s community due to the pandemic and power outages, he worked together with the tribe to apply for grants and find resources to help families cover basic needs. Hoping to serve his tribe for many years, David wants to help create more tribally owned and operated businesses and help the youth with educational assistance. It is important to David that young people finish high school and go to college.

Community building
Recently in David’s personal capacity, he decided to go out and grade every family’s driveway in the community. When asked why he did that, he said because people needed it done, and he had time and wanted to help. His heart is on the reservation and in giving back to his tribal members so that they thrive as a community.

David was selected as ASU Law’s nominee for The National Jurist magazine’s 2021 Law Student of the Year recognition. David is a thoughtful tribal leader who has harnessed the power of good for his community. Attending law school is a significant commitment and David’s dedication to his law career and tribal community deserves to be celebrated.