Mitakuyapi! Cante wasteya nape ciyuzapi. Relatives, I greet each of you with a good heart and a handshake. My sincerest hope is that each of you and your families are in good health and my condolences to those that are mourning the loss of loved ones. This past year has been a challenge on all levels. Our daily lives and routines were turned upside down, seemingly overnight. We began to isolate at home, events were cancelled or postponed, children moved to distance learning, and we embarked on a journey of work from home. Our own National NNABA Annual Meeting, which was days away, was postponed. We all faced uncertainty. But one thing was certain – our community, our National NABA family is resilient. Our ancestors fought and overcame unspeakable challenges so that we could be here, in this moment, to do the good work that each of you do every single day. I am inspired by each of your perseverance this past year and I am certain that our communities will emerge stronger and more connected than ever.
My overarching goal was to lead this organization that has been led by passionate and brilliant attorneys and law students since 1973 with the values instilled upon me by my tiyospiye (extended family). Those are: Unsiiciyapi (Humility), Wowacintanka (Perseverance), Wawoohoda (Respect), Wayuonihan (Honor), Cantegnake (Love), Icicupi (Sacrifice), Wowicake (Truth), Waunsidapi (Compassion), Woohitike (Bravery), Cantewasake (Fortitude), Canteyuke (Generosity), Woksape (Wisdom). Each of NNABA’s accomplishments are due to the contributions of many that lent their support this past year. In particular, I would like to say pidamayaye (thank you) to Wambdi A. Was’teWinyan (Professor Angelique EagleWoman) for her gracious leadership and advice as we raised our voices against invisibility; past National NNABA President Lawrence Baca for knowing just the right moment to reach out to me to lend his advice and guidance; past National NNABA President Mary Smith for helping us navigate through important conversations and for her valuable advice; and to National NALSA President Paulene Abeyta and the NNALSA Board for their energy, positiveness, and for serving as the reason why we do the work we do – to open the door and support our relatives as they enter and thrive in the legal profession.
It has been the honor of a lifetime to work with such a talented and diverse Board of Directors, Foundation Independent Directors, and Delegates and Representatives to the American Bar Association. Each of them deserves much credit and kudos for their hard work and contributions to the organization this past year. Together we worked to fulfill National NABA’s mission statement and accomplish its goals. While the work will never be done, I am confident that National NABA will continue to advocate for our rightful place in the legal profession and to advance justice for Native Americans. It is my honor to hand the reigns of this organization over to my good friend and NNABA sister, Colleen Lamarre. We are in good hands and I offer all of my support to her as she leads us this upcoming year.
I feel very fortunate to have served the legal profession and our organization as your President this past year. I invite you to review the following timeline of events and accomplishments. Pidamayaye (thank you).
With love and gratitude,
Thomasina Real Bird