Here are the materials in Navajo Nation, et al. v. Reagan, et al. No. CV-18-08329-PCT-DWL (Ariz. D. Ct. 2019).
The Amended Complaint sought:
[D]eclaratory and injunctive relief, compelling the Defendants to (a) allow early voters who do not sign their ballot affidavit to have the same opportunity to cure the ballot deficiency that is provided to voters with a mismatched signature, (b) allow early voters who do not sign their ballot affidavit to have the same chance to cure their ballot as voters who vote by conditional provisional ballots, (c) provide translators certified as proficient in the Navajo language for all future early voting and election-day polling sites, (d) provide translation of instructions for casting an early ballot in Navajo over the radio for the 30 days leading up to an election, (e) establish additional in-person voter registration sites, and (f) establish additional early voting sites on the Reservation for all future elections that are open for consistent hours (at a minimum, each Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. with no interruption during the lunch hour) during the 30 days leading up to the election. This relief is sought on the grounds that failure to provide the requested relief is a denial of the equal right to vote.
The lawsuit was settled, and the Settlements can be seen here:
Season 1: Law Through Language (2018)
Our first season focuses on language as law: within the context of language revitalization, how do Indigenous laws pronounce themselves through language? How can Indigenous laws be strengthened, given the impact of colonialism on Indigenous languages? And can the changes required to revitalize—funds, experts, and the privileging of resources—create additional inequities? This season seeks to answer these questions among others.
This season aims first and foremost to address the crucial relationship between language and law: in particular, the role Indigenous languages play in articulating Indigenous laws. Writing about the Navajo people, Anishinaabe scholar Matthew Fletcher emphasizes, “for many tribal communities, the law is encoded right into the language – and the stories generated from the language.”1 Because most Indigenous communities historically expressed (and continually express) their customs and laws orally, this statement applies to Indigenous groups broadly.2 This season features contributors who explore expressions of law and answer questions about how language deepens and complicates protocols, interpretations and worldviews.
We recognize inherent challenges in this exercise: communities experience “law” in different forms and may not identify practices and behaviours as law in the same way that they are identified in Western legal normativity. What one group claims as “law” may be something entirely different to another; and not everything is translatable into English or French—nor should it be. As John Borrows stated, “context should not be stripped from the practice of Indigenous law.”3 Often, that context is language. Our contributors this season help to tease out how Indigenous languages limit and liberate, stymie and enable, and generally complicate the articulation of Indigenous law.
The State of Canada’s Indigenous Languages by Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel
Indonaakonigewininaan – Toward an Anishinaabe Common Law by Matthew L.M. Fletcher
Language and Anishinaabe Consultation Law by John Borrows
1 Matthew Fletcher, “Rethinking Customary Law in Tribal Court Jurisprudence” (2007) 13 Mich J Race & L 57 at 21.
2 Ibid at 41, “Indian cultures (often) were and are oral cultures.”
3 Borrows, John, “Foreword: Indigenous Law, Lands, and Literature,” (2016) 33 Windsor YB Access to Just v at ix.
The Northwestern Tribes’ Canoe Journey wrapped up this past weekend in Campbell River. Here’s Matika Wilbur’s beautiful blog documenting the Journey. I was privileged to attend the Muckleshoot landing.
Here’s the article by Julian Brave NoiseCat. Thanks to E.E. for the link.
This panel explained the difficulties in finding accurate words in the Yup’ik language for court terminology, particularly in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Pictured above: Sophie Alexie, Instructor of Yup’ik Eskimo, University of Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus; Oscar Alexie, Assistant Professor Yup’ik Eskimo, University of Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus; Mary Beaver, Elder Advocate, Irniamta Ikayurviat-Children’s Advocacy Center at Tundra Women’s Coalition in Bethel; Kari Robinson, Language Access & Rural Domestic Violence Attorney with the Alaska Institute for Justice
Previous coverage here.
In some areas of Alaska many elders and even middle-aged community members grew up with Yup’ik as their first language. The resulting language gap for these individuals has created problems when they are involved in court hearings. To combat these problems, the Alaska Institute for Justice is heading up an effort to train Yup’ik interpreters specifically to work in courts, medical facilities, and other institutions. The experts involved with this training are working to create a Yup’ik legal glossary with an emphasis on words that describe problems such as: sexual assault, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and parental neglect and abuse.
“Our goal is to make sure that all Alaskans have access to the services that they need regardless of their ability to speak English,” said Robin Bronen, executive director of the justice institute.
Full article available here.