Inclusion power

Indian Country's representation

On Jan. 10, the Indian Legal Program hosted a special dinner for students to meet Bryan Newland, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior. A full year of serving in a prominent position, Assistant Secretary Newland leans on his experiences and centers tribal community as part of the strategy. He understands the challenges Tribes face and the importance of ensuring Indigenous People are protected, included and represented at every level, for every decision.  

We were also joined by Secretary Newland’s team who share that vision: Rose Petoskey, Joaquin Gallegos, Stephanie Sfiridis (’16), Sam Kohn, Senior-Counselor to the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs and Katherine Isom-Clause, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development, as well as Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Steve Simpson, Senior Attorney with the Solicitor’s Office. ILP students learned about the work the Department of Interior does on behalf of Tribes and how hard each have worked to be in a position where they can drive change. 

“Having Assistant Secretary Bryan Newland and his team visit was such an honor,” said 2L Sophie Staires. “What struck me about all of them was the genuine interest they showed in all of us students—who we are, and what we want to do. Talking with them made it easier for me to picture myself in those roles, and I really needed that. Assistant Secretary Newland really impressed upon me that I am right where I need to be, that I am capable and that I will get to where I want to be.”

“It was nice to know that even though law school can be a real challenge sometimes, the opportunities to do great things for Indian Country outweighs that,” said 2L Chelsi Tsosie. “It was quite motivating to relate to someone in a position as high as his.” 

Thank you to the Department of the Interior for this special visit. We appreciate all that you do for Indian Country! 

Call for articles: Special Indian Law edition of the Arizona Attorney 2023

Deadline: February 28, 2023

The Indian Law Section is soliciting proposals for articles to be included in the 2023 special Indian Law edition of the Arizona Attorney magazine. The proposal should focus on an issue of interest to those who practice Indian Law.

Either a short or a long article may be proposed. Generally, a long article will be between 2,000 and 2,500 words (in a Microsoft Word document, about 9 to 12 pages including endnotes) and will be about 3 to 4 pages in the magazine. A short article will be approximately 1,500 words and typically will be 2 pages in the magazine.

The proposal should provide the following information: author’s name and contact information (e-mail address, phone number, and name of employer/firm); the subject matter of the article (e.g., ICWA, NAGPRA, Water Rights, Land Use, Tribal Sovereignty, etc.); the anticipated title; and a concise summary of the thesis of the article.

Proposal authors will be notified on whether their proposed article has been accepted by March 10, 2023. The draft of the article for a selected proposal will be due on April 7, 2023. Final drafts of selected articles are due by May 5, 2023.

Past articles from the 2022 Indian Law edition were:

McGirt v. OklahomaThe Most Impactful Indian Law Case in a Century?
By Professor Robert J. Miller

ICWA- The Gold Standard: Golden Nuggets of Evidence from Arizona
By Tara Hubbard & Fred Urbina

Indigenous Erasure in Public Schools: Critical Race Theory, Discriminatory Policies, and Remedies for Students
By Mia Montoya Hammersley, Adriana M. Orman & Wouter Zwart

“Authentic” From Time Immemorial: Reforming Rule of Evidence 902 To Reflect Tribal Sovereignty
By Henry Oostrom-Shah

The Cabazon Decision, 35 Years On
By Glenn M. Feldman

Tribal Labor and Employment Law: The Evolution of the Navajo Preference in Employment Act
By Paul Spruhan

Indian Law From Behind the Bench
By Alexander Mallory (’19)

Oral History on Trial
By Robert Alan Hershey

If you would like to submit a proposal or if you have questions, please contact
Glennas’ba Augborne Arents (’16), Secretary, Indian Law Section
gaugborne@rothsteinlaw.com

OR

Hon. June Harris, Member-at-Large, Indian Law Section
JHarris@sc.pima.gov

ASU Indian Legal Clinic goes to Washington, D.C.

Last month, the Indian Legal Clinic traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a hearing that focused on the situation of Indigenous Peoples and forced displacement in the context of climate change in the United States before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights. The request for a hearing was made on behalf of four Louisiana Tribes and the Village of Kivalina.  

Student attorneys Ruben Zendejas (3L) and Brittany Habbart (3L) were assigned the case with Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee. Working with Earth Rights, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and the Georgetown Environmental Law and Justice Clinic, the ILC assisted in preparing a written submission in support of the thematic hearing and preparing witnesses for the hearing. Blair Tarman-Toner (’20) also assisted with the written submission. Ferguson-Bohnee gave the rebuttal statement on behalf of the petitioning Tribes during the Thematic Hearing. While in Washington, ILC students attended a meeting at the White House. 

“Ruben and I met different tribal leaders and advocates and learned about their experiences with climate displacement or dealing with the federal recognition process,” said Habbart. “Hearing about issues directly from people who live it or work with it is always invaluable.” 

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.

Visiting Judge Humetewa’s courtroom

On Nov. 11, ILP students met with Honorable Judge Diane Humetewa (’93), a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, and her law clerks, including ILP alum Alexander Mallory (’19). Judge Humetewa is a member of the Hopi Tribe and became the first Native American woman to reach a federal bench in 2014. Students learned about her law school experiences, legal career and advocacy work in public service, and her commitment to building inclusion and diversity.

“She encouraged us to approach law school with a positive attitude, and to focus on the bigger picture when things get tough,” said Shandiin Hererra (1L). “This bigger picture focuses on how each of us can be impactful in Indian Country and/or be a strong advocate in spaces where Indigenous attorneys are seldom present.”

Visiting student Kelsey Haake (3L) enjoyed hearing about Judge Humetewa’s background. “While I find law school to be so exhausting and daunting at times, it was really nice to hear that even someone with so much success and an incredible career had moments in law school where they struggled,” said Haake.

During the visit, Judge Humetewa gave the students a tour of her courtroom and chambers.

Judge Humetewa welcomed open questions, genuinely listened and made their presence felt. We appreciate you, Judge Humetewa! Thank you for arranging this meeting and hosting our students.

While at the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse, we ran into ILP grad Zachary Cain (’00). Cain currently serves as a federal public defender.

Federal Advocacy Class in DC

Last week, 17 students – 15 JD, 1 LLM and 1 MLS – in the Indian Legal Program (ILP) spent their fall break in Washington, D.C. for the “Federal Advocacy for the Tribal Client” traveling class. The students attended the week-long class taught by the ILP’s Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Director Derrick Beetso (’10) at the O’Connor Center. ILP hosted private practice attorneys: Brian Gunn of Powers Law, and Sam Hirsch, Leonard Powell, and Krystalyn Kinsel (’15) of Jenner & Block. Each attorney shared about their work on behalf of tribal clients and offered sage advice to the students. Thank you, Brian, Sam, Leonard, and Krystalyn! Thank you, D.C. ASU Law team – your hospitality and service is appreciated!

The week also included a visit to the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, where students received encouragement and reaffirmance of their respective academic endeavors from Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Bryan Newland. They also exchanged questions and comments with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Energy and Economic Development, Kathryn Isom-Clause; Senior Counselor Stephanie Sfiridis (’16), Senior Advisor Tracy Canard Goodluck and Deputy Solicitor Joel Williams; and Special Assistant Joaquin Gallegos and connected virtually with Rose Petoskey, Senior Counselor. Thank you, AS-IA leadership team!

ILP students then visited the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Committee staff were extremely gracious with their time and their space as a group of bipartisan staffers, including Senior Counsel Breann Nu’uhiwa (LLM ’09), Deputy Staff Director Amber Ebarb, Counsel Connie Tsosie de Haro, Policy Advisors John Simermeyer and Jacqueline Bisillie (MLS ’14), and Staff Assistant Denae Benson, met with students and explained the Committee’s history, the work they do, and their perspectives on what it means to draft and pass laws that further tribal self-governance. The students also learned a lot about the important education the Committee provides across party lines and numerous issue areas through the work they do. Thank you, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs!

The students also enjoyed lunch with Samantha Kelty, Managing Staff Attorney, Morgan Saunders, Staff Attorney, and Denver Jacket, Paralegal, of the Native American Rights Fund’s (NARF) Washington, D.C. office. They learned about the important voting rights litigation, cultural protection, and appellate and Supreme Court briefing work they do. They also learned about the history of the oldest and largest national law firm dedicated to protecting Native rights. Thank you, NARF!  

Finally, the students concluded their week with a terrific panel made up of Sun Devil ILP alums Rebecca Ross (’10), Senior Attorney, Indian Resources Section, Department of Justice; Rani Williams (‘18), Legislative Assistant, Congressmember Sharice Davids; and Jens Camp (’21), Associate, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker, and ILP Advisory Council Member Larry Roberts, General Counsel, Mohegan Tribe. The panel shared career tips, discussed their legal work experience in Washington, D.C., and responded to questions with invaluable advice. Thank you, Larry, Rebecca, Rani, and Jens!

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.

Building Communication between Tribal & Federal Courts & the Agencies Administrating Justice in Indian Country

Friday, October 21, 2022
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Sandra Day O’Connor Courthouse, Jury Assembly Room
401 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ, and via Zoom

There is no charge for this event. Space is limited and registration is required.  CLE may be available.

Registration for In Person: rsvp.inperson@azd.uscourts.gov

Registration for Virtualrsvp.virtual@azd.uscourts.gov

Link to More Information

Questions: humetewa_chambers@azd.uscourts.gov

Firm seeks 2L for 2023 Summer Law Clerk

Maier Pfeffer Kim Geary & Cohen LLP is a well-established law firm in Indian country, with a particular focus on the California region and the more than 100 federally recognized Indian tribes located there. Our partners offer decades of experience representing tribal interests on all matters affecting tribal government and reservation communities. We provide general and special counsel services on a wide range of matters including tribal gaming, governance, employment, administrative, business transactions and economic development, environmental compliance, Indian Housing/NAHASDA, ICWA, tribal TANF, state and federal taxation and land-into-trust acquisitions. In furtherance of tribal sovereignty, we work closely with tribal leaders on strengthening tribal legal systems by updating core governance documents including tribal constitutions, membership and election statutes, and a wide range of other tribal laws and administrative policies and protocols. We have successfully advised tribal governments on establishing new or expanded tribal institutions and businesses as both an exercise of sovereignty and self-determination.

MPKGC is seeking applications from second-year law students for a 2023 Summer Law Clerk for its office in Oakland, California. Applicants must be enrolled in an ABA accredited law school. Experience or coursework in tribal and Federal Indian Law is strongly preferred. Applicants must also possess excellent analytical, research and communication skills, and the ability to work independently and as a team member in a fast-paced and fun environment. MPKGC offers a competitive salary for a 10-week summer position (exact length negotiable).

To apply: interested candidates should e-mail a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and unofficial law school transcript to Ms. Bethany Sullivan at bsullivan@jmandmplaw.com by November 4, 2022.