Problem viewing email? Click here to view it online.

National Native American Bar Association Logo

April 2016

Spring Graphic
"the flower"
Courtesy of
Onofre S. Gonzalez
4th grade, Scarborough Elementary School

Ya'at'eeh/Greetings, NNABA members:

As my term as NNABA President comes to an end, I want to say thank you to each of you. I have had the privilege of serving as the 38th National President of NNABA and continued the work started by stellar Native American lawyers and leaders since NNABA's formation in 1972. I am proud and humbled to be the first Navajo lawyer to lead this national organization. As such, I joined NNABA past presidents who represented Indian Nations from across the country. I proudly spoke my language and carried my Navajo heritage and culture wherever I went. Along the way, I made new friendships and formed new or nurtured existing partnerships.

I am incredibly thankful for the support and tremendous effort of the NNABA Executive Committee, Mary L. Smith, Jennifer Weddle, Makalika Naholowa'a, and Patty Ferguson-Bohnee; the NNABA Board, Gabe Galanda, Loren Kieve, Robert Saunooke, Diandra Benally, Hunter Cox, and Lauren van Schilfgaarde; and the independent directors of the NNABA Foundation, Sandra McCandless and Jimmy Goodman. I am also very grateful for the work of NNABA Young Lawyer Division (YLD) Representative Colleen Lamarre, and YLD Assembly representatives, Lauren van Schilfgaarde and Thomasina Real Bird. I also want to express my sincere appreciation for the support and dedication of Jennifer Williams, NNABA's Administrative Assistant.

I send a special note of thanks to our corporate sponsors for their extraordinary support over the years: APS (David Falck and Miguel Bravo), Walmart (David Blackorby and Lori Chumbler); NBCUniversal (Marnie Pedorella and Kimberley Harris). I also extend appreciation to Edison Electric Institute (Ed Comer and Brian McCormack) for their generous contribution supporting NNABA as we hosted CBAC 2016.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as NNABA's President this past year. I enjoyed meeting and working with the presidents and members of the American Indian Bar Associations across Indian Country, and I look forward to continuing our work together.

Thanks to our members for all of your support! NNABA could not do what we do without our members.

On a personal note, I would like to thank my brother Leo Dayish and my nephew Onofre Gonzalez. They shared their talents with us through the year by giving me permission to use their pieces that accompanied my messages (photos taken by Leo and artwork by Onofre).

Ahéhee' (thank you),
Linda Benally
Linda Benally
NNABA President, 2015-2016

Advancing Justice for Native Americans.


On March 1 – 2, 2016, NNABA hosted the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. CBAC's leaders discussed key issues affecting communities of color, including judicial vacancies, criminal justice reform, and immigration reform. This year's Annual Meeting included visits with key executive branch officials and members of Congress. CBAC met with Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Moyorkas, Chief of Staff for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Juliet Choi, and high-level White House staffers from the White House Counsel's Office, the White House Domestic Policy Council, and the White House Office of Public Engagement. CBAC also met with Senator Patrick Leahy, and with high-level staffers of Senators Chuck Grassley, Heidi Heitkamp, and Harry Reid. CBAC leaders also met with public engagement staff for the Republican National Committee.

CBAC was established in 1992 and is comprised of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National Bar Association (NBA), and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA). CBAC meets annually every spring so that leaders from its member organizations can discuss issues of mutual concern and advocate in support of their shared interests.

NNABA extends its appreciation to the following who assisted in ensuring a successful CBAC 2016: Carolyn M. Drouin, Heather Dawn Thompson and Addison Berry.

Ed Comer, EEI General Counsel and Norma Hutcheson (NBA)

President Benjamin Crump (NBA)
Paulette Brown, (Past President NBA) and ABA President
President Linda Benally (NNABA)

Linda Benally, NNABA Board President and
Hunter Cox, NNABA Director and NNALSA President

Glen Troublefield ABA TIPS Chairperson & Linda Klein, ABA President-Elect


Ralph Zotigh offers prayer song for dinner


Past National Presidents
Tricia Tingle (NNABA), Dolores Atencio (HNBA) & Paulette Brown (NBA)

Zotigh Drum Group renders honor song

Each year, one of the member organizations of CBAC hosts the annual gathering of CBAC leadership. NNABA had the honor and privilege of serving as the host organization for CBAC 2016. In honor of its formation in 1992, CBAC honored several women who were instrumental in CBAC’s founding, including Tricia Tingle, former President of the National Native American Bar Association. Other women leaders recognized were Paulette Brown, ABA President and former President of the National Bar Association, Delores Atencio, former President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, and Peggy Nagae, former President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

The legacy of their foundational work guides CBAC today – almost a quarter of a century later. They were honored at a reception and dinner event on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in Washington, DC at Edison Electric Institute. The Zotigh Drum Group rendered an honor song to memorialize their outstanding contributions.


Mary Smith
Tricia Tingle (Choctaw),
NNABA, Past President
Tricia A. Tingle is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and graduated with a Bachelor of Education from Texas State University in 1978 and then from the Oklahoma City School of Law in 1990. After graduating from OCU Law School, Tricia opened up her own law firm in San Marcos, Texas and founded the Texas Indian Bar Association, along with 4 other colleagues. Tricia served as the President of the Texas Indian Bar Association and the National Native American Bar Association in 1993-1994. Tricia is a member of the Texas Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the National Native American Bar Association. In total, Tricia's federal career has spanned almost 22 years serving in both the United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of the Interior.

In 1994, Tricia began her 15 year career at the United States Department of Justice. From 1994 – 1996, Tricia was the lead attorney in the United States of America v. Illinois suing Illinois to enforce the federal "motor voter" law, National Voter Registration Act of 1993 under the leadership of Attorney General Reno. Moreover, during her tenure in the Civil Rights Division, Voting Section Tricia focused on Section 2 and Section 203 Voting Rights Act violations specific to issues in Indian Country and redistricted county and school board boundaries to institute single member districts in favor of minorities. In 2003, Tricia became a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney's Office District of Minnesota where she prosecuted Violent Crimes and was the Tribal Liaison for the District.

Tricia has also worked as a line attorney and as an Assistant Solicitor in the Office of the Solicitor at the United States Department of the Interior and has provided legal advice for most of the programs within the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tricia is now the Director for the Tribal Justice Services Directorate – Office of Justice Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Directorate was statutorily created in 1994 to provide services for Tribal Courts as well as Courts of Indian Offenses. She has held this position since July 2011. The Office of Tribal Justice Support (TJS) is tasked with providing training and technical assistances to Tribal Courts, both on the civil side as well as the criminal side of the court system, throughout the United States. Tricia brings a strong background in Indian Law on both the civil and criminal side to her present position and has a national staff focused on providing training and technical assistance under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act 2013 and the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. In 2016, Congress appropriated additional funds for the Directorate to serve all 330 tribal courts located in the United States. Tricia has spent the last year focusing on tribal court issues in Alaska.


Mary Smith

Mary L. Smith is now Secretary-Elect of the American Bar Association (ABA). She was sworn in on February 8, at the ABA Mid-Year Meeting in San Diego, California, before the ABA House of Delegates for the term 2016-2020. Mary is the first Native American national officer in the over 130 year history of the ABA. This monumental election comes after many years of hard work in the ABA by Mary - she has paid her dues on the way to this high office. Mary has previously served in the ABA House of Delegates and was the first Native woman elected to the ABA's 38 member Board of Governors in ABA history.

Mary's work in the ABA has always been to advance Native American issues and recognition by the ABA of other Native attorneys. An enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, Mary was the first enrolled Native woman to serve as a Commissioner on the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and while the only Native woman on the Commission, Mary fought for and successfully nominated the first Native woman to receive the Margaret Brent Award. Likewise she fought for the nomination and selection of the first Native American to receive the ABA Thurgood Marshall Award. Mary has also served in the ABA Section of Rights and Responsibilities (now the Section of Civil Rights and Justice) and she is the Secretary of the Section of Litigation. A past president of NNABA, Mary was also a 2012 ABA Spirit of Excellence Award recipient in recognition of her development of pathways in the profession for Native American lawyers and mentoring of those to follow.

NNABA salutes and congratulates Mary for this exceptional achievement and leadership.


Attention All Young NNABA Leaders!

NNABA, as part of a joint initiative with the American Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the National LGBT Bar Association, is pleased to announce the fourth year of the Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy (CBLA).

The CBLA is a three-day gathering of future bar leaders from across the bar associations. It is a coordinated effort to strengthen the pipeline of diverse bar association leaders by providing leadership training and professional development programs. Network with leaders from your organization and multiple national bar associations; learn, discuss, and develop leadership skills; absorb a wide range of leadership advice from leading experts in the field in a collegial and close knit setting; and develop the skills necessary to successfully organize, operate, and lead local and national bar associations.

NNABA has been privileged to participate in the past, sending Phil Brodeen, Thomasina Real Bird, and Lauren van Schilfgaarde to the 2015 CBLA.

We invite you to apply for the class to be held June 26–28, 2016, in Seattle, Washington. A registration fee of $100 will be charged to confirmed participants. However, if selected, both NNABA and the CBLA at-large has funds to assist with travel and lodging expenses. To register, click here.

The deadline for applications is 8:00 pm EST, on Friday, May 13, 2016. Applicants will receive notice of the Selection Committee's decision by the week of May 27, 2016.

ABA President Paulette Brown to speak at NNABA Annual Meeting & Reception in Scottsdale, Arizona

NNABA is honored to announce that American Bar Association (ABA) President, Paulette Brown will be attending NNABA Annual Meeting on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Paulette Brown, the first woman of color to serve as president, will speak at the NNABA Annual Meeting and Reception about diversity and inclusion and its relevance to the practice of law "We are honored to host Paulette Brown, the first ABA President to speak at a NNABA Annual Meeting in the last two decades," said Linda Benally, President of NNABA. "Ms. Brown's work on issues related to diversity in the profession and throughout the justice system align with NNABA's commitment to growing the law school pipeline with Native American law students."

Brown, a law partner at Locke Lord LLP in the Morristown, New Jersey office, took the helm of the national bar association in August 2015. She held numerous leadership positions with the ABA, including former member of the ABA Board of Governors and its executive committee. She also served on the Commission on Women in the Profession and was a co-author of "Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms."

In her legal practice, she has worked as in-house counsel to a number of Fortune 500 companies, as a municipal court judge, and a private practice labor and employment and commercial litigation attorney. Brown has also been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of "The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America" and received an abundance of awards and accolades.


1:00PM - 4:30PM


4:30 P.M. – 5:30 P.M.


  • Ethel Branch, Attorney General, Navajo Nation
  • Fatima Abbas, General Counsel, Karuk Tribe
  • Sarah Lawson, Tribal In-House Counsel Association

6 P.M. – 8 P.M.



The Minnesota American Indian Bar Association (MAIBA) will host the 2016 Indian Law Conference on Friday May 6, 2016 at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota. This is the sixth year that MAIBA has co-sponsored its CLE with Minnesota CLE. Leading practitioners and legal scholars will present current topics that include: an ICWA Update; Food Sovereignty and Security; Changes in Labor Law that impact Unionization of Tribal Employees; and, Religious Freedom issues associated with Autopsies. MAIBA will honor Professor Sarah Deer for her work on the development of law to protect Native women from sexual assault and exploitation at the reception following the CLE. The full agenda and registration information can be viewed at


If you are interested in working on one of the following NNABA committees, or would like more information, please contact Your input and participation is needed!

  • Educational Programming Committee
  • External/Diversity Relations Committee
  • In-House and Corporate Counsel Committee
  • Membership Committee
  • Policy and Amicus Briefs Committee
  • Strategic Planning and Fundraising Committee
  • Young Lawyers Committee


Our Attorney Membership Form and Student Membership Form are available to download as PDF files. Benefits of being a NNABA member include access to a variety of new, nationwide job announcements by email and on this site. To join, click here. The membership year runs from April to April and dues are $75 per year. In addition to checks and money orders, NNABA accepts credit card payment for payment of dues. If you have any questions about membership or experience any difficulty with downloading, please feel free to contact us at Facebook   Twitter  

Copyright © 2016 National Native American Bar Association, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are a member or have demonstrated interest in the NNABA.
Our mailing address is:
National Native American Bar Association
P.O. Box 11145
Tempe, AZ 85284