Progress, Power, Purpose: Stacy Leeds

Women's History Month

In celebrating “Women’s History Month,” we turned to some of the women of the ILP to shed light on Native women legal professionals and advocates in this Progress, Power, Purpose series. Newest to the ILP Family, Indian law scholar Stacy Leeds brings her extraordinary experiences and ideas to shape the future: first Indigenous woman to lead a law school, Dean Emeritus of the University of Arkansas School of Law, first woman to serve as a Justice on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court. She is currently a Muscogee (Creek) Nation district court judge and an appellate court judge for Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. Having paved the way for Native women in different areas, why not consult with this fierce Oklahoma Cherokee woman? Amid a global crisis, this visionary created her blog—IndigenousWell—as a platform of much-needed inclusion and to propel Indigenous women professionals and the balance work of health and wellness.

Q: What does your current position entail?
A: Teaching, writing, helping to advance the mission of the Law School and the ILP

Q: Were you always interested in this kind of work?
A: Indian law has always been an interest, but I never would have predicted the many directions my work would take

Q: What advice do you have for Native American women who want to work in this area?
A: Always be respectful and supportive of others. Never underestimate the value in your reputation and your network.

Q: What is your proudest career moment?
A: It’s the many moments when former students exceed their own expectations. It is very powerful to witness a big change in someone’s life trajectory and know you played an important role in that.

Q: Is there anything you’ve learned after graduating law school that you wished you learned in class?
A: The complexity of what it takes to be a really great advocate. The strategy, the big picture, the importance of knowing when to be bold and when to be reserved. Law school is a great start, but there are many things that come with experience and maturity.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned in the classroom that has helped you in your career?
A: Critical thinking skills coupled with the ability to communicate. It’s why law school graduates will always have the benefit of diverse career opportunities.

Q: Who are three Native American women law professionals and/or advocates who should be on our radar right now?

  • From Indian law scholars: Professor Maggie Blackhawk (Fond Du Lac Ojibwe) at Penn State Law
  • From Federal Indian Country Crime Prosecutors: Courtney Jordan (Cherokee)
  • From Tribal Governance Roles: ILP grad Doreen McPaul (Navajo)

Q: You are a Native American woman making history and have been the “first” in prominent areas throughout your career—first Native American woman to serve as a Law School dean, first woman justice for the Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court—Did you ever feel like the lone Native American voice in the room? How did you overcome those adversities? For that girl/woman who is finding her rhythm and trying to carve out a space to thrive, what advice would you give her?
A: I have often been the only woman and the only Native American voice on certain issues and inside certain physical spaces, but I have rarely felt “alone” in those moments. There’s a big difference in feeling lonely (wishing you had peers around you) and being alone (separated without a connection to others). I am always connected to Indigenous issues and Indigenous people and those connections strengthen me. That being said, many of us will find ourselves in roles and circumstances where we are the perceived “voice” representing others. It’s a delicate balance to maximize the power and duty in that moment while simultaneously educating others on the diversity of viewpoints across Indian country. At the end of the day, always try to be your authentic self and don’t compromise your values. There will always be hard days and difficult situations, but in totality, look for opportunities where the positive energy far exceeds the negative energy. I have learned that when I prioritize my own mental, physical and spiritual health, I am also at the top of my game professionally, including being a better advocate for others.

Review Stacy’s publications:

  • Two draft co-authored articles published in the SSRN, “A Wealth of Sovereign Choices: Tax Implications of McGirt v. Oklahoma and the Promise of Tribal Economic Development” and “A Familiar Crossroads: McGirt v. Oklahoma and the Future of the Federal Indian Law Canon.” Please email any feedback.
  • Interviewed by Creative Native podcast about the launch of her blog, IndigenousWell and how athletics in native youth can positively impact their professional lives as leaders. 
  • Her latest tribute to Congresswoman Deb Haaland in this riveting piece, “Picking up broken glass + broken hearts.”
  • More of her amazing work on her website StacyLeeds.com.

Stay tuned for our next Progress, Power, Purpose series.

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Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

“Cultural Misappropriation” – Professor Reed 3/31

Professor Trevor Reed is giving a presentation on Wednesday, March 31 at 5:30-7:30pm EST for Intellectual Property Law Association on “Cultural Misappropriation.”

Register for free to join.

About the program: What is cultural misappropriation and why does it matter? Tune in for a conversation between legal experts and activists covering Copyright and Trademark issues of cultural misappropriation such as the Washington pro football team (Harjo v. Pro Football and its relationship with Matal v. Tam), fashion (Urban Outfitters v. Navajo), photography and music on reservations, and traditional knowledge labeling

Progress, Power, Purpose: Helen Burtis (’07)

Women's History Month

In celebrating “Women’s History Month,” we turned to some of the women of the ILP to shed light on women legal professionals and advocates in this Progress, Power, Purpose series. Another wise woman who has been instrumental to the Indian Legal Program, Faculty Associate at ASU Law and ILP alum Helen Burtis is expanding the ILP vision. Community partnerships and preparing student attorneys are important to the Indian Legal Clinic and Helen works to harness the civic power of the Indian Wills Clinic. Despite the global pandemic crisis, the Indian Wills Clinic continued its service and held virtual sessions working with tribal members to discuss estate planning needs for the Pechanga Wills Clinic last semester and Quechan Wills Clinic just last week.  

Q: What does your position entail?
A: As a Faculty Associate, I teach various Indian law classes and do some program work, including organizing the bi-annual Tribal Court Trial Skills College and also creating new on-line Indian Law courses.

Q: Were you always interested in this kind of work?
A:
The law is a second career for me. I spent the first half of my professional life working in the financial services sector, predominantly as an executive for a Fortune 500 insurance carrier. I decided to go into the law because I didn’t want to work my entire life in only one field plus I found legal work, especially Indian law, very interesting.

Q: What advice do you have for Native American women who want to work in this area?
A: As you’re figuring out what you want to do with your career, try not to exaggerate in your mind the importance of any one decision. There are only a few decision in life that take you down a path you can’t later deviate from. If you find something you’re interested in, give it a try. If it turns out to be your dream job, fantastic! If your interest later turns in another direction, you can always pursue that new avenue.

Q: What is your proudest career moment?
A: My proudest moments are when I see ILP students in action, such as Indian Legal Clinic student attorneys drafting wills for Native American landowners. What I feel is a special joy from seeing them reaching their potential in a way that benefits individual tribal citizens and tribal communities.  

Q: What is your advice for current students?
A: If things seem bad in the moment, don’t despair and don’t give up. Over the span of a lifetime, bumps in the road will usually even out.

Q: Favorite law school memory.
A: When I was a student attorney in the Indian Legal Clinic, one of my clients won his motion to dismiss for lack of evidence. I was in class when we received the court’s order dismissing the charges against the client with prejudice, so the Clinic’s paralegal called him right away to give him the good news. He said he wanted me to call him when I got out of class because he would believe it when he heard it directly from his attorney. That made me feel legit.  

Continue to Progress, Power, Purpose series.

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Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Progress, Power, Purpose

Life in a pandemic has not been easy for any of us but we remain resilient and stand strong. While political changes are shifting with the new Biden-Harris Administration, we recognize history in the making. Congresswoman Deb Haaland is front and center as a reminder of women in their power. In celebrating “Women’s History Month,” we turned to some of the women of the Indian Legal Program to shed light on women legal professionals and advocates in this Progress, Power, Purpose series. Starting with ILP’s powerhouse lady leads, Executive Director Kate Rosier who was recently appointed as Assistant Dean of Institutional Progress at ASU Law and Faculty Director and Indian Legal Clinic Director Patty Ferguson-Bohnee.

In spite of these tumultuous times, ILP’s lady leads have not skipped a beat. In fact, they have greatly expanded and transformed the digital media scene from offering free CLE virtual events (McGirt webinar is still ASU Law’s largest webinar attended) to increased collaborative partnerships. Since the law school reopened its doors to the administration and began offering hybrid courses in August 2020, these lady leads are in their offices every week with their doors open to current and prospective students, and teaching their respective classes. All in the name of good service. 

As a program led by Native women, we want to celebrate our women who are serving their communities, holding seats at the tables of governance, strategizing to secure victories, blazing trails and setting a tone for the generation of Native women to follow. 

Read their stories in the Progress, Power, Purpose series:

  • Kate Rosier, Director and Assistant Dean of Institutional Progress
  • Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Faculty Director & ILC Director
  • Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes (’94), Professor of Practice and Indian Gaming & Tribal Self-Governance Programs Director
  • Stacy Leeds, Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership
  • Honorable Diane Humetewa (’93), Professor of Practice
  • Helen Burtis (’07), Faculty Associate
  • Breann Swann Nu’uhiwa (’09), Faculty Associate
  • Torey Dolan (’19), Native Vote Fellow
  • Jennifer Giff (’95), Advisory Council
  • April Olson (’06), Advisory Council
  • Nikki Borchardt Campbell (’09), Advisory Council
  • Judith Dworkin (ASU Law ’86),  Advisory Council
  • Maria Dadgar, Advisory Council
  • Claudeen Bates Arthur (’74)
  • Gloria Kindig (’89)
  • Diane Enos (’92)
  • Debra Gee (’94)
  • Doreen Nanibaa McPaul (’01)
  • Lydelle Davies (’02)
  • Diandra Benally (’05)

Stay tuned for more updates to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Note: Photo cover of Kate and Patty were photographed separately with full safety measures and edited post-production.

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Content creator & photo credit: Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

Progress, Power, Purpose: Patty Ferguson-Bohnee

Women's History Month

In celebrating “Women’s History Month,” we turned to some of the women of the ILP to shed light on Native women legal professionals and advocates in this Progress, Power, Purpose series. Indian Legal Program Faculty Director, Indian Legal Clinic Director and Professor of Law at ASU Law Patty Ferguson-Bohnee is of the Pointe-au-Chien tribe from Louisiana. In addition to teaching, this formidable force is most known for her continued work on the Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project, which did Indian Country a great service in the 2020 presidential election, moving closer to a democracy that honors and values Native voters. While the pandemic was not an ideal circumstance, Native Vote took to digital media by storm with interviews, trainings, presentations, collaborations and most notably, the newly created Polling Locator Tool. Read more in Arizona Native Vote Changemakers.

When she’s not leading the charge in Native Vote, Patty is preparing students in her Indian Legal Clinic and promoting diversity and inclusion.

Q: What does your current position entail?
A:
I serve as the Director of the Indian Legal Clinic and Faculty Director of the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.  I am so blessed to be able to work with leading scholars and practitioners in Indian law and Tribal law and motivated students who really care about serving Indian Country.  In the Indian Legal Clinic, the students practice under my bar license.  We work on matters in tribal, state, federal, and international forums.  The cases range from probate, family, criminal and civil litigation, voting rights, code drafting, environment, climate, and status clarification of tribes. My goal is that the students learn useful practical skills and develop a passion for service, while also serving unmet needs for Indian Country.

Q: Were you always interested in this kind of work? 
A: I became interested in law when I participated in mock trial in high school.  However, I became interested in Indian law as an undergraduate student.  I was able to take a Federal Indian Law class as a freshman, and I never looked back. 

Q: What advice do you have for Native American women who want to work in this area? 
A: The sky is the limit!  Although Native American women are the most underrepresented group in the legal profession, Native American women are doing phenomenal work.  Keep in touch with your law school classmates and build a community of support.  Join your local Native American Bar Association and the National Native American Bar Association.   

Q: What is your proudest career moment? 
A: Assisting Four Louisiana Tribes in securing state recognition. 

Q: Is there anything you’ve learned after graduating law school that you wished you learned in class? 
A: Many law students do not learn that there are three sovereigns—the state, the feds, and tribes.  While this might not be harmful in some states, in the southwest, it could lead to malpractice.  It also means that as Native lawyers and practitioners of tribal law and Federal Indian law, we are always teaching—the judges, opposing counsel, co-workers, clients, and others.  At ASU, it is great to have Indian law professors teach first year courses so that they can provide this lens in which to analyze the law.  It makes us all better attorneys and advocates.  Everyone should learn Indian law basics because it transcends all areas of law. 

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned in the classroom that has helped you in your career? 
A: I took a few practical courses that served me well. One was environmental litigation, which included drafting briefs and an appellate argument.  The other was mediation clinic, which taught me to listen and provided me tools to help resolve disagreements.   

Q: Who are three Native American women law professionals and/or advocates who should be on our radar right now?

  • Hilary Tompkins: a strong Native American woman, a leader, the first Native American to serve as the Solicitor of the Interior, and someone who has remained humble and genuine.  She is expanding her knowledge base and using this an opportunity to rethink and reframe Indian law issues.  She gave a thoughtful and powerful lecture at last year’s annual Canby Lecture, and I appreciated the time she spent with our students.   
  • Deb Haaland: If confirmed, Deb Haaland will be the first Native American ever appointed to a cabinet position.  Her views on climate change are important to the future of Tribal communities, and the whole country.   
  • Doreen McPaul (’01): Doreen has served in numerous positions – academia, private law firms, tribal in-house counsel, counsel to tribal leadership, and now, Attorney General of the Navajo Nation. Through this journey, she has volunteered, served on numerous boards and bar leadership, speaks on numerous panels, and coordinates educational programs about Indian law and tribal law. She is also the president and founding board member of the Tribal In-House Counsel Association – a much needed forum to support tribal in-house attorneys and advocates. 

Review Patty’s publications:

  • Received the American Bar Association’s 2020 Spirit of Excellence award
  • “How the Native American Vote Continues to be Suppressed” article published in the ABA Vol. 45, No. 1: Voting Rights.
  • Co-authored with James Tucker article “Voting During a Pandemic Vote-By-Mail Challenges for Native Voters”
  • “The History of Indian Voting Rights in Arizona: Overcoming Decades of Voter Suppression” SSRN article
  • “The Impacts of Coastal Erosion on Tribal Cultural Heritage” article published in the SSRN.

Continue to Progress, Power, Purpose series.

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Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

Impacting the next gen

ILP Director and Assistant Dean Kate Rosier is co-teaching Law 394: Law School Foundations with Assistant Dean Ray English, ASU Law Office of Career and Employment Services. The course was created to provide students with the opportunity to explore and develop the skills necessary to apply to law school and succeed in law school. Students take part in an intensive LSAT preparation course, and will learn about the law school application process and application strategies. Students will also have opportunities to network with law school administrators, law students, lawyers and judges. Over the course of the semester, the students will be exposed to legal constructions of the courts in the United States and Arizona, including the function of courts and judges. Students will also participate in legal analysis exercises, draft legal memorandums and make oral arguments. 

This course was based on the course previously taught by Jeremiah Chin (’15) and Dr. Bryan Brayboy. We appreciate their great work and forward thinking.    

New Faculty Associate & New MLS Course

This upcoming summer, the Indian Legal Program (ILP) is expanding the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program with a new course on civil jurisdiction in Indian Country. Paul Spruhan joins as faculty associate of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Spruhan is the Assistant Attorney General for the Litigation Unit of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice in Window Rock, Arizona.

This new course compliments the current curriculum offered to ILP students enrolled in the MLS program as it will allow an in-depth and comprehensive study on the foundational laws that have shaped civil jurisdiction in Indian Country today. This course will examine the relationship between the circuit courts and the United States Supreme Court in the development of binding case law that directly impacts the reach and impact of tribal sovereignty.

“Issues of civil jurisdiction in Indian Country are complex but vital for the development of tribal sovereignty,” said Spruhan. “This class will discuss the important federal cases and statutes and apply those cases to real world situations, so that tribal leaders and others within and outside Indian Country can understand the framework created by federal Indian law to make the important policy decisions that affect tribal communities.”

Professor Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) is the Director of the Masters of Legal Studies for ILP and works on the development of curriculum for the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs for the MLS and LL.M programs. Professor Bledsoe Downes is excited to expand ILP’s online Federal Indian Law courses for the MLS program. There are now three Indian law MLS emphasis areas and this new course developed and taught by Spruhan is an important addition to each of these study areas. “Paul’s expertise in this area and talent for the online classroom are the perfect fit for the Indian Legal Program and our new Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Programs,” said Bledsoe Downes. “We also anticipate MLS students from other emphasis areas pursing this course, which is a great way to expose more of our student body to the field of Federal Indian Law and to improve understating of tribal governments and tribal sovereignty.”

Please join ILP in welcoming Paul Spruhan to the ILP family!

________
DesiRae Deschine
(’19)
Attorney, Navajo Nation Department of Justice

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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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