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.

Native Vote: Tracking bills, tracking redistricting

Last month, the Arizona Native Vote Communications Working Group made its return. Native Vote Fellow Blair Tarman-Toner (’21) attended the group’s meeting, and she will participate in the planning and organizing of election education and outreach materials to share in tribal communities as the group continues to meet regularly. 

ASU Law’s Indian Legal Clinic has continued working on the Native Vote policy project since Arizona’s legislative session began last month. Native Vote Fellows Torey Dolan (’19) and Tarman-Toner will continue tracking bills that impact voting and will inform tribes as to how particular bills impact their tribal members. So far, the Indian Legal Clinic has identified 142 democracy-related bills in the Arizona Legislature – 72 in the Senate and 70 in the House of Representatives. Additionally, the clinic has continued its work with other voting rights organizations through the Arizona Voting Rights Defense Coalition. 

The Indian Legal Clinic is preparing to present at two upcoming meetings of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona to discuss barriers to voting in Indian Country and the upcoming elections. 

Additionally, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission certified the state’s congressional and legislative maps. Tarman-Toner will continue tracking the county-level redistricting process. The county-level district lines must be finalized by July 1. 

Native Vote

Mapping the next election

Redistricting

The State is wrapping up its redistricting efforts, and the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will finalize the legislative and congressional maps early next week. Native Vote Fellow Blair Tarman-Toner (’21) tracked the Commission’s deliberations over the course of its 14 decision-making meetings, as well as tracked  the public comments made at 32 public hearings. Tarman-Toner also regularly presented to tribes on the redistricting process, assisted tribes in drafting public comments, and submitted oral and written comment regarding the importance of complying with the Voting Rights Act and maintaining a strong Native American majority-minority district.  

2022 Legislative Session

The Indian Legal Clinic has kicked off its Native Vote policy project with the start of the legislative session this week. The project will focus on tracking bills that impact voting and keeping tribes informed and involved regarding how those bills will impact their tribal members. The clinic will also work with other voting rights organizations through the Arizona Voting Rights Defense Coalition. Native Vote Fellow Torey Dolan (’19) serves on the Coalition’s Coordinating Committee that manages the broader Coalition. 

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Blair Tarman-Toner (’21)
Native Vote Fellow, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

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!

Innovative Traveling Class

This year, 26 ILP students spent their fall break in Washington, D.C. for the “Federal Advocacy for the Tribal Client” traveling class. The class offers practical application of the government-to-government relationship, which was led by ASU Law’s Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Director Derrick Beetso (’10).

With the support and commitment from ASU Law and ILP alumni, and other innovative professionals volunteering their time, the students gained a valuable learning experience. The volunteers included Saba Bazzazieh (’08), Allison Binney (’00), Tana Fitzpatrick (’08), Charlie Galbraith (’06), Brian Gunn, Sam Hirsch, Krystalyn Kinsel (’15), Matthew Murdock (’13), Sarah Murray, Breann Swann Nu’uhiwa (LLM ’09), Rebecca Ross (’10), Stephanie Sfiridis (’16), Ryan Smith

(’98), Joel West Williams, Rani Williams (’18), the Office of Tribal Justice at the Department of Justice, the Office of Regulatory Affairs at the Department of the Interior, the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, the House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. 

In addition to participating in the class, students met with ILP partners and supportive law professionals. On Oct. 13, students, alumni, faculty and friends joined together at the Arizona State University Barrett and O’Connor Center for our D.C. Mixer. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend!

“The course could potentially open so many doors to exciting new possibilities,” said MLS Richard Picard. “While no one could ever replace Professors Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes and Larry Roberts, Professor Beetso is a wonderful addition to the ASU team as his dedication and excitement for the future of Indian Country truly reverberates through his instruction.”

For additional photos and student testimonials, take a look at our social media posts that include 3L Hilary Edwards and 2L Michael LaValley

We appreciate the following firms for taking time to talk with our students and hosting meals: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC; Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker, LLP; Rosette, LLP; Jenner & Block; Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP; and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

Progress, Power, Purpose: Kate Rosier

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. There’s something special to be said about ILP Director Kate Rosier who was recently appointed to Assistant Dean of Institutional Progress, the name is so fitting. Fostering talent and shaping the future one conversation at a time is this Comanche woman’s talent—ask any ILP alum and current student. Her most recent and proven work is in the Native American Pipeline to Law Initiative, which is comprised of three dedicated partners. In its seventh year, the Native American Pipeline to Law team is proud to host Pipeline to Law Online Sessions this summer.

For most of the ILP Family who address her as Katie Bear or Momma Bear Kate, Dean Rosier has also been addressed as Professor this year. For the first time in her career, she is co-teaching an undergraduate course, Law 394: Law School Foundations, with Assistant Dean Ray English at ASU Law.  Providing so many students with opportunities to achieve greatness is her bread and butter!

Q: What does your current position entail?
A: I’m the official Momma Bear of the ILP. I help to recruit and retain students and make sure the students have a nice experience while in law school. I also help with grant writing, development, alumni relations, partnerships, programming and communications for the program. 

Q: Were you always interested in this kind of work?
A: No. After I passed the bar, I started working for Gila River’s Law office. In 2000, I was contacted by my former law professor and (then) Dean of ASU Law Trish White and Professor Tsosie about joining the ILP team. I had a business background and had worked with incoming students at University of Utah so it seemed like a good fit. Thinking back on it now, I kind of grew up in this position. 

Q: What advice do you have for Native American women who want to work in this area?
A: Working as a law school administrator has been awesome for me and my family. I am able to stay connected to the law, help diversify the profession while balancing the demands of family. I think this might be a dream job. 

Q: What is your proudest career moment?
A: I have proud career moments every time I see ILP students do something awesome in Indian Country. I see them as babies and then they graduate and help change the world. Very cool.

Q: Who are three Native American women law professionals and/or advocates who should be on our radar right now? 
A:
Who can name just 3!?

  • I’m inspired by Patty and Stacy. They are smart, professional, fun and always wanting to give back to Indian Country.
  • I’m in awe of our female attorneys leading tribal legal teams: Jennifer Giff and Theresa Rosier (Salt River), Debra Gee (Chickasaw), Diandra Benally (Fort McDowell), Doreen McPaul and Kim Dutcher (Navajo) and Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes (Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs).
  • Kristin Theis-Alvarez (Berkeley Admissions/Pipeline to law team member) Kristin is now the dean of admissions at Berkeley law. She has been working hard at Berkeley, the Native American Pathways to Law Program, Graduate Horizons, and with LSAC to help diversify the profession. She is smart, confident, stylish and full of sass.
  • Rodina Cave Parnall (Director of PLSI) Rodina had big shoes to fill taking over for Heidi Nesbit. She didn’t try to be Heidi. She stepped in and made the role her own. She has been great with the students and tried to think of creative new ways to support future lawyers before, after and during law school. I appreciate the patience she has with students and her willingness to think about what each student needs.
  • The many students and young grads of ILP. I know I recruited them but WOW! They are so smart and talented. I can’t wait to see what they will do next. The future is bright.
  • I’m also inspired by all the lawyer moms balancing everything well. The law is a tough field and they are getting it done while having kids, parents, partners, pets and extended family to keep happy. Bravo!

Q: In your career, 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: Remember your law degree and bar license is just as valuable as theirs. Do not let people make you feel less than. 

Q: Favorite law school memory:
A: Attending PLSI before the start of law school was my favorite time. It was so powerful to be surrounded by native students on the same journey. I met my future sister-in-law and best friend at the program. WE had fun, worked hard and learned so much. I’ll always be grateful for my time there. PS – The class of 1995 was the best class of all time. 

Review Kate’s accolades:

  •  “ASU Law announces new leadership positions” in ASU News article.
  • Kate received the Council on Legal Education Opportunity Inc.’s EDGE Award for exhibiting “Education, Diversity and Greater Equality in the legal profession” in November 2018.

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

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Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law