ABA: Being a Native Lawyer

“The Obstacles of Being a Native Law Student: How Attorneys Can Help Overcome These Obstacles” by Julia A. Giffin. Article here.

“While a board member of National NALSA during the 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 terms, I received input from Native students across the country about the many obstacles impeding their paths while at law school. The more I spoke with Native classmates, friends, and fellow National NALSA members, the more it became clear that these obstacles were not unique to one or two institutions… There are several ways that current attorneys can aid law students in overcoming the obstacles faced by Native law students. One quick and nearly effortless way is to sign the (National NALSA) petition and pass it on to others in your network and your alma mater to raise awareness.”

“The Obstacles of Being a Native Law Student: How Attorneys Can Help Overcome These Obstacles” by Julia A. Giffin

Julia presented on this topic during the CLE “Being a Native Lawyer”, which is now available on-demand through the ABA here.

National NALSA petition here.

The Rights of Indian Children ABA Article

The Rights of Indian Children: Indian Child Welfare Act Regulations | Section of Litigation : Children’s Rights Litigation | Section of Litigation

The tribe I worked for decided to “bring the children home” through a focus on children in their community and ensuring resources to support that work. Many strategies were employed, depending on case specifics. Ensuring the tribal children were closer to home, both in proximity and culturally, was the goal. Some cases achieved the goal through reunification with the natural parents, others by placement within kinship care from stranger foster care. One of the primary practices was the transfer of cases to tribal court when the parents were amenable. In the end we brought all but one child back into tribal custody with an over 75 percent kinship placement rate.

NNABA Press Release about the ABA Amendment to Include Tribal Court Practitioners

For Immediate Release, August 12, 2014
Contact: Mary L. Smith (202) 236-0339

PHOENIX—The National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) applauds the historic vote of the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates to amend the ABA Constitution to permit tribal court practitioners to be full members of the ABA.  This August 11, 2014 vote of the House of Delegates was unanimous.

“We commend the ABA for recognizing that there are three sovereign court systems in the United States (federal, state and tribal) and for amending its constitution to  permit tribal court practitioners – who are not currently eligible to be ABA members – to become full members of the ABA,” said Mary Smith, NNABA president. “This constitutional amendment will – at long last – put tribal court bar admissions on equal footing with the bars of states, territories and possessions of the United States.”

The ABA has made significant strides towards inclusion but there was a glaring injustice that needed to be corrected – full membership for American citizens who happen to be licensed through a tribal court as opposed to a state, federal or territorial bar. Under previous policy, anyone licensed in a state, federal or territorial jurisdiction within the United States could join the ABA as a full member with all rights and responsibilities. That policy did not extend to those who are licensed through a tribal court of a federally recognized tribe. Thus, there was a class of persons who were denied the opportunity for full membership because they practiced solely in a tribal court. As a policy decision, the ABA had previously extended the opportunity for full membership to lawyers who practice in Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The same inclusive policy now applies to individuals practicing before tribal courts within the United States.

Founded in 1973, NNABA serves as the national association for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NNABA strives for justice and effective legal representation for all American indigenous peoples; fosters the development of Native American lawyers and judges; and addresses social, cultural and legal issues affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
For more information contact 480-727-0420 or visit http://www.nativeamericanbar.org.

ABA approves resolution to strengthen tribal jurisdiction

I heard from a listserv that the ABA has approved a resolution to strengthen tribal jurisdiction specifically over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence and that the resolution also urges that the reauthorization of VAWA include the tribal jurisdiction provisions.

While I was not able to find the text of the resolution on the ABA website, I did find this list of additional and late resolutions on the ABA site (see bottom of page): 2012_hod_annual_meeting_late_resolutions.authcheckdam

Eastern Band Cherokee Judge Saunooke Article on Diversity on Federal Bench

Here, in the ABA’s Judges’ Journal, from Mike McBride: Saunooke Article

Here are other articles from the same issue re: judicial diversity:

Right arrow An Interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
By Suzanne Reynolds

Right arrow Racial and Gender Diversity on State Courts: An AJS Study
By Malia Reddick, Michael J. Nelson, and Rachel Paine Caufield

Right arrow A Bench That Looks Like America: Diversity Among Appointed State Court Judges
By Ciara Torres-Spelliscy

Business Law Today Feature on Indian Businesses and Tribal Courts

The ABA’s Business Law Today features several short articles on federal Indian law and business here. Links to the articles are below the fold.

Our mini-theme: Native America

Culture, Business and the Law

The law is a system that provides social cohesion while at the same time revealing much about our culture in a nation of many people and customs. In this issue, we celebrate the Native peoples of our nation, which include Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.

Few of us have had the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of the people who have lived for centuries in the places we now call home. The articles in this issue are written by lawyers who are part of Native communities and provide unique insight into the interplay between America’s federal, state, and tribal laws.

One author grew up on a reservation, not having seen the ocean on the East or West Coast prior to earning admittance to one of the best, and most elite, undergraduate universities in the country. This author currently spends half the year near the Pacific Ocean and half the year on the reservation. Another author grew to adulthood before learning of the family’s Native culture and beginning a life-altering journey of discovery, which included going through traditional rituals to be formally admitted to the tribe.

While the articles focus on legal, procedural, and business issues implicated when dealing with Native peoples or their lands, they also provide some perspective on the incredible wealth of cultures in this country that is reflected in our legal system.

–Nicole Harris

San Francisco

Deal or no deal?
Understanding Indian Country transactions
By Gabriel S. Galanda and Anthony S. Broadman
Encouraging business with Indian tribes
A brief discussion of the tribal exhaustion doctrine
By Thomas Weathers
Tribal courts and alternative dispute resolution
Mediated settlements and arbitration awards in tribal court
By Pat Sekaquaptewa
Avoiding trouble in paradise
Understanding Hawai`i’s law and indigenous culture
D. Kapua`ala Sproat