Tribal citizens served by the Indian Legal Clinic students

Student attorneys from the Indian Legal Clinic’s Wills and Probate class recently helped fourteen tribal citizens of the Quechan Indian Tribe with their estate planning needs. Students met with clients one on one to determine each person’s wishes so tailored wills and powers of attorney could be drafted for them. The clients were members of the Quechan Indian Tribe who needed an “Indian will,” which is a will drafted to conform to the American Indian Probate Reforms Act’s requirements for bequeathing trust or restricted land (i.e., allotments). 

 “Participating in the clinic gave me invaluable experience in drafting wills and building client relationships,” said student attorney Joe Wilwerding (2L). “The wills clinics opened my eyes to the large need for those who know how to draft Indian wills to keep Native lands in the hands of the people to which they belong,” added Courtney Kamauoha (3L). 

Collectively, a total of 28 wills and health care powers of attorney were executed during the wills clinic. The student attorneys were supervised by Professor Helen Burtis (’07), and two volunteer attorneys from Rosette, LLP: Jim Palmer (’04) and Daniel Ray.  

ILC’s 10th successful Indian Wills Clinic

In late September and early October, Professor Helen Burtis (’07), Samir Grover (2L), Erin Jenkins (2L), Courtney Kamauoha (3L), Molly Lathrop (3L), Julia Weiss (2L) and Joseph Wilwerding (2L) traveled to the Temecula Valley, California and met with 16 clients to prepare wills and health care powers of attorney for members of the Pechanga Band of Indians. Altogether, 28 estate planning documents were prepared. At the end of the two-day event, 14 members left with estate documents valid under Pechanga Band, federal, and California law. 

“The wills clinic was such a great way to take our classroom knowledge and translate it into real world experience,” Jenkins said. “I felt like I was really making a difference in the lives of the wills clinic participants.”

Prior to the wills clinic proceedings, Pechanga Band administrators provided a seminar for tribal members about financial planning in general. One of the seminar topics included the importance of having an estate plan.  

After the financial planning seminar, Pechanga Band administrators publicized the wills clinic and signed up members who were interested. The administrators also obtained the necessary Bureau of Indian Affairs paperwork for the client and arranged the logistics for the proceedings.

Attorneys from the Escondido Office of the California Indian Legal Services also assisted by teaching the estate planning section of the Pechanga Band’s financial planning seminar, by reviewing the legal documents for conformance to California law ahead of the clinic, and by assisting with the supervision of the students on site during the clinic. 

The ILC is very grateful for the support and assistance from everyone involved to ensure its success. Finally, many thanks to the notaries and witnesses who made the signing ceremonies for each of the clients possible. This year, we were honored to have Pechanga Band Rangers and Safety Officers among our witnesses! 

The Aftermath of Castro-Huerta

On July 7, ASU Law’s Indian Legal Program and Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs hosted a virtual event – Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta: Rebalancing Federal-State-Tribal Power

Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta is the most recent federal Indian law case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and held that states share concurrent jurisdiction with the federal government in prosecuting crimes committed by non-Indians against Indian victims in Indian country. The majority decision, authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, departs significantly from earlier principles and precedent in this area and the panel discussed their thoughts on what this decision means on the ground for Indian tribes. 

The event was moderated by Derrick Beetso (’10), Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Director, and included a fantastic lineup of Native leaders in academia: Kevin Washburn, Dean of Iowa Law School; Professor Stacy Leeds, ASU’s Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership; and Professor Robert Miller, ASU’s Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar and ASU Faculty Director of the Rosette LLP American Indian Economic Development Program.

The ILP and the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs thank each of our panelists for their time and for sharing their views on this case, and we thank all those who tuned in to listen to this discussion. If you missed the webinar, you may watch the recording

On this topic, our expert faculty contributed to the national conversation happening in the media.

“Wednesday’s decision removes the jurisdictional boundaries of tribal sovereignty that have kept state and local police from entering tribal lands in some cases,” said Leeds to NBC News. Leeds’ legal expertise was also featured in KOSUReuters,Bloomberg Law and U.S. News & World Report.

“It will have an impact in Indian Country, so only the future will tell us if it’s good or not,” said Miller in an Associated Press news article. Miller also spoke to the Arizona Republic, saying: “Supreme Court rulings could weaken tribal jurisdiction and sovereignty.”

“Through this opinion, Kavanaugh rallied his cavalry of five to perform the modern version of slashing and burning peaceful Native communities and their resources and provisions to the ground,” Beetso wrote in his Indianz.com op-ed, “SCOTUS’ Decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta Departs Wildly from U.S. Constitution.”

Brilliant Success

Gathering of Indigenous Legal Scholars

On Dec. 8-9, the ILP and the Native Nations Law and Policy Center at UCLA School of Law teamed up and welcomed current and future Indigenous law faculty from across the country to participate in the “Gathering of Indigenous Legal Scholars” at ASU Law. The purpose of this gathering was to cultivate a community of support for current and future legal scholars across the fields of federal Indian law and tribal law.
On the first day, four emerging Indigenous scholars presented their research to the 25 Indigenous law professors in attendance. The faculty then presented a hybrid-format webinar, “Launching Your Academic Career,” to share knowledge, tips and advice for entering the academic job market. On day two, junior and senior faculty in the field shared their current research with one another. 

The overall event highlighted just how robust scholarship in the field of Indigenous law has become, and how important rigorous legal research is to Indigenous peoples and the development of law and legal systems intended to meet their needs. The event built on previous gatherings for emerging Indigenous faculty organized by senior Indigenous scholars, including Professor Robert J. Miller

We are delighted that five ILP affiliates participated: Native Vote Fellow Torey Dolan (’19) presented “Reviving the Promises of the Indian Citizenship Act: Congress’ Trust Obligations to Protect the Native Vote,” Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee presented “Self-Determination in a Sinking Basin,” Professor Stacy Leeds presented “Essentials of Going on the Legal-Academic Job Market”, Professor Miller served on the roundtable “Developing Your Research Agenda” and Professor Trevor Reed presented “Restorative Licensing.”

We appreciate our co-host the Native Nations Law and Policy Center at UCLA School of Law and all participants for making this a successful event.

We Conquered

On Oct. 11, we held a free one-hour webinar “Conquering Columbus: Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.”

We appreciate our panel experts—Native Vote Fellow Torey Dolan (’19), Sarah Augustine, Douglas Lind and Professor Robert J. Miller—for leading this rising awareness discussion and helping ensure the academic landscape represents Indian Country’s full diversity and history at a national scale.

If you missed the webinar, you may watch the recording.

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!

Professor Miller and the McGirt case

It’s almost been a year since the Supreme Court issued its decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma on July 9, 2020 and affirmed that the Muscogee Creek Nation’s reservation was never disestablished. The majority opinion strongly affirmed what Native people have known: Treaty rights are the Supreme Law of the land and do not fade with time. This historic decision created dialogue and research for Indian Country, especially for Federal Indian Law experts like Professor Robert J. Miller. It’s been “all McGirt, all the time,” he says.

2020

On July 12, 2020 Professor Miller was quoted in the Arizona Republic article on the McGirt case. Read article here.

On July 14, Professor Miller along with Professor Larry Roberts, presented on McGirt case to the ILP students.

On July 23, the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU hosted, “The Most Significant Indian law Case of the Century: McGirt v. Oklahoma,” webinar that offered an in-depth case overview, ” which included presenters: Professor Miller, Professor Stacy Leeds, Derrick Beetso (’10), Ambassador, Muscogee Creek Nation Ambassador Jonodev Chaudhuri and moderated by Professor Roberts. View the recording here.

On July 30, Professor Miller gave a two-hour Indian law training for the U.S. DOE Bonneville Power Administration and discussed McGirt case at length.

In July,  Professor Miller stated, “The Court is upholding this 1832 treaty that the Creek Nation signed with the United States, and is holding the United States to those promises” during his interview with the Voice of America (VOA) News. Watch full video here.

Professor Miller also presented, “McGirt v. Oklahoma: Understanding the Decision and its Implications for Indian Country” for the Oregon Historical Society. Watch Miller’s presentation here.

On August 4, Professor Miller co-presented a McGirt webinar for the American Indian Community House in New York City.

On August 31, Professor Miller presented on his upcoming paper “The Indian Law Bombshell: McGirt v. Oklahoma” to law school faculty. Co-author Native Vote Fellow Torey Dolan (’19) joined the discussion. Miller and Dolan published their law review draft article, “The Indian Law Bombshell: McGirt v. Oklahoma” in the SSRN. Read the draft article here.

Professor Miller drafted an 800-word blurb on the McGirt decision for the American Association of Law Schools’ (AALS) Indigenous Nations section newsletter.

On September 15, Professor Miller was a guest on the daily radio program Native America Calling to speak about the McGirt case. Listen here.

On September 17, Professor Miller was a panelist on a 90-minute Zoom conference for the Northeast Corporate Counsel Organization Diversity & Equity Committee and he spoke about the McGirt decision and its impact on corporate clients in Oklahoma. 

On October 26, Professor Miller spoke on a panel session about McGirt for Boston College Law School.

On November 4, Professor Miller gave a keynote speech on McGirt for the “American Society for Ethnohistory Annual Conference” at University of North Carolina. 

On November 13, Professor Miller participated in the Oregon State Bar CLE panel and discussed the McGirt case.

On November 19, Professor Miller presented a one-hour speech for the American Philosophical Society on the McGirt case. Watch the recording here.

On December 11, Professor Miller gave a presentation on his current research on the landmark Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma for ASU’s Indigenous Research Roundtable (IRR).

2021

On Febuary 26, 2021, Professor Miller and Dean Elizabeth Kronk-Warner gave a luncheon talk on McGirt at the George Washington School of Law.

Professor Miller and Professor Robbie Ethridge from University of Mississippi signed a contract to write a book on McGirt for the University of Oklahoma Press.

In April, Professor Miller and Torey Dolan (’19) published their law review draft article, “The Indian Law Bombshell: McGirt v. Oklahoma” in the SSRN. Read the draft article here.

Professor Miller published two short essays for the University of Pennsylvania School of Law’s Regulatory Review journal on the McGirt case and private sector economic development on reservations. 

Professor Miller published the 5,500 word cover article “McGirt v. Oklahoma: The Indian Law Bombshell.” in the April edition of the Federal Lawyer magazine for the Federal Bar Association.

Professor Miller and Torey Dolan (’19) accepted an offer to publish their article “The Indian Law Bombshell: McGirt v. Oklahoma” in 101 Boston University Law Review (2021).

Impacting the next gen

This past semester ILP Executive Director and Assistant Dean of Institutional Progress Kate Rosier and Assistant Dean Ray English of ASU Law’s Office of Career and Employment Service joined forces to co-teach an undergraduate course LAW 394: Law School Foundations. 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. This diverse roster took part in an intensive LSAT preparation course, and students learned about the law school application process and application strategies. They were also given the opportunity to network with law school administrators, law students, lawyers and judges. 

“I feel like the course provided students with a great foundation upon which to develop their critical thinking skills and to pursue admission into law school,” said English. “My favorite memories surround oral arguments. Students did amazingly well, considering many had never made an oral argument before.”

Over the course of the semester, the students were exposed to legal constructions of the courts in the United States and Arizona, including the function of courts and judges. Students participated in legal analysis exercises, draft legal memorandums and made oral arguments.

“It was a rewarding experience to work with talented and motivated students in the class,” said Rosier. “It was fun to demystify the law school admissions process and direct them with helpful tips.”

The course was initially designed to be in-person but due to a global pandemic, Rosier and English quickly took action and reworked the course to meet the needs of the students. By the end of the semester, they realized the course exceeded their expectations. “Kate and I make a great team! I am looking forward to working with her to improve the course.”

“I think the biggest accomplishment is that all of the students attended every session, even though I made everyone turn on their cameras,” he said. By the end of the semester, two students secured summer internships with Honorable David B. Gass of the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One.

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.    

Make learning Indian Gaming Law fun

This semester, Professor Larry Roberts brought game to his Indian Gaming Law class! In a public health crisis, students turned on their webcams and tuned into class at 3:45 p.m. every Tuesday to learn about Indian Gaming Law from Professor Roberts, who tuned in from Washington, D.C. The class examined the historical background behind Indian gaming and the modern legal regime that governs the development of gaming enterprises in Indian country.

To make it interesting and get the students excited about learning, Professor Roberts challenged his class to Jeopardy and Family Feud. Student teams applied their knowledge and reviewed Indian gaming regulatory history while playing Jeopardy and a fast game of Family Feud. 

Jeopardy was neck and neck until the very end. Team 1’s Peter Furlow (2L) and Team 2’s Zaine Ristau (2L) faced off in final jeopardy. Team 1 won Jeopardy by the narrowest of margins: one dollar. Pro tip for those who haven’t played Indian Gaming Jeopardy: if you don’t know the answer, go with “What is the Secretary of the Interior?”

The class ran through two lightening rounds of Family Feud, reviewing the components of HR 1920 and dissenting views of HR 1920; the game ended in a tie. But the class wasn’t all games, they continued on to discuss the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and its legislative history.

____
Theresa Beaulieu
Program Coordinator, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator Sr, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

Indigenous Research Roundtable

Connecting Indigenous Scholars across ASU

For several years now, ASU’s Indigenous Research Roundtable (IRR) has connected Indigenous scholars and allies through a monthly seminar featuring new, cutting-edge scholarship conducted with, by and for Indigenous communities. The IRR was originally organized by Dr. Angela Gonzales from ASU’s School of Social Transformation and hosted at Tempe campus. As the ASU Downtown campus has grown to include numerous ASU colleges, schools and programs serving Indian Country—including Social Work, Journalism, Health Sciences, Law and many others—the IRR is, for the first time, being hosted by two downtown campus Indigenous faculty, ASU Law Professor Trevor Reed and School of Social Work Professor Felicia Mitchell.

“As a new faculty member at ASU, IRR provided me opportunities to meet and connect with Indigenous scholars and allies across ASU,” said Professor Mitchell. “The IRR has also been a supportive space to highlight the important work my colleagues and I are involved in throughout Indian Country.”

In the fall semester, the IRR featured two thought-provoking presentations showcasing the diversity of Indigenous research happening at ASU. On Nov. 4, Professors David Manuel-Navarrete and Tod D. Swanson shared their experiences establishing a new field school in partnership with Tribes in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The field school educates university students from around the world about Kichwa approaches to climate science and biodiversity while also providing a stream of sustainable income for Kichwa peoples. On Dec. 9, Professor Matt Ignacio presented the results of his groundbreaking study of harm-reduction interventions aimed at Indigenous youth who may be at risk for alcohol and other drug use. Then on Jan. 27, School of Social Work Professor Shanondora Billiot shared her research on the effects of land-based healing programs on the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities in Louisiana. Ending the roundtable sessions for the academic year,  Professor Robert J. Miller presented his current research on the landmark Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma on March 24. 

For more information about the Indigenous Research Roundtable or to participate in a roundtable next year, please contact Professor Reed at t.reed@asu.edu.