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National Native American Bar Association Logo

January 2016

Winter Graphic
Photo by Leo Dayish

Ya'at'eeh/Greetings, NNABA members:

Happy New Year! On behalf of NNABA Board of Directors, we wish everyone health, prosperity and success in 2016. We hope you are enjoying these e-newsletters. If you have comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact us at


Linda Benally
Linda Benally
NNABA President, 2015-2016

Advancing Justice for Native Americans.


American Bar Association ("ABA") President-Elect Linda A. Klein will make approximately 700 appointments to ABA Standing Committees, Special Committees, Commissions, and other entities and initiatives for the 2016-2017 term. Applications will be accepted December 1, 2015, through February 26, 2016.

There are currently a handful of NNABA members who sit on committees, commissions, and other entities and initiatives appointed by ABA President Paulette Brown and we hope to maintain and increase that number. Service on an ABA Standing Committee, Special Committee, Commission, and other entities and initiatives is a valuable experience that will contribute to professional and personal growth. The ABA views the appointments process as "an opportunity to encourage participation in the Association's leadership by a wide diversity of members" making NNABA members well-suited for presidential appointments. You may nominate someone or nominate yourself. You must be an ABA member before starting the nomination process; however, you may join the ABA at any time by visiting the ABA website. Terms are typically for one year with the possibility of continuing for two additional years. If you have only served one or two years, each year you will need to complete an application.

If any NNABA member nominates themselves or someone else for a Presidential Appointment, please notify NNABA's External/Diversity Relations Committee Member Thomasina Real Bird at Ms. Real Bird will gladly work with you regarding submission of a statement from NNABA supporting your appointment.

If you are interested in learning more about appointment opportunities and the online application process, visit the ABA Office of the President web page, here.


The Minnesota American Indian Bar Association (MAIBA) co-hosted an outreach event with the United States District Court, District of Minnesota and FBA-MN focusing on Indian treaty rights. As part of the event, the Why Treaties Matter Exhibit was displayed at the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis for two weeks in November. As part of the festivities, MAIBA co-hosted a kickoff reception on November 3, 2015 in the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis. The Honorable Diane Humetewa (Hopi), United States District Court, District of Arizona provided the keynote address at the kickoff reception. MAIBA also organized a private reception with Judge Humetewa, a CLE, and secondary school visits with Judge Humetewa to schools in the area with large numbers of Native American students. MAIBA member Magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois was instrumental in organizing the event.

MAIBA President Philip Brodeen receiving a Hopi bowl on behalf of MAIBA from Judge Humetewa

MAIBA members, Lenor Scheffler, Magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois, Judge Jeannice Redding at private reception for Judge Humetewa

Drummers and dancers from the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul put on a beautiful a demonstration at the Kickoff event


President Linda Benally, NNABA Foundation, and Diandra Benally, President of the Native American Bar Association of Arizona (NABA-AZ) visited law schools in the state of Arizona to meet with Native American and interested law students. This pipeline to legal profession effort is in support of NNABA's groundbreaking study entitled, "The Pursuit of Inclusion: An In-Depth Exploration of the Experiences and Perspectives of Native American Attorneys in the Legal Profession," which was released in April of 2015. NNABA and NABA-AZ met with about 80 law school students overall. The 3-part program included a presentation about NABA-AZ and NNABA highlighting their mission and initiatives. They also presented findings of the Pursuit of Inclusion report. They visited the following law schools:

Arizona State University, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Tempe, Arizona
Glennas'ba Augborne (Diné), NALSA President and a 3L at Sandra Day O'Connnor College of Law, was instrumental in arranging our visit. "We learned so much from the presentation with regards to Native Americans in the legal profession and as a result learned more about ourselves," said Augborne. "NNABA and NABA-AZ have been a huge support system for our chapter and a network that all of our students know will help them in their efforts to become future attorneys. Thank you NNABA and NABA-AZ for all that you do!"
ASU NALSA generously gifted the presenters with shawls (in ASU maroon and gold!) as a token of their appreciation for taking the time to visit their law school and to meet with NALSA membership. "ASU's NALSA appreciates the support of NNABA and NABA-AZ," said Augborne.

University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, Tucson, Arizona
In Tucson, Alisha Schmidt (Rosebud Sioux Tribe Sicangu Oyate), NALSA President and a 3L at University of Arizona, worked with us to schedule our visit. Alisha was very helpful in promoting our visit to the law school. Anna Hohag (Bishop Paiute), 2L, NNALSA Area 1 Representative and Alexandra Mojado (enrolled Cherokee/descendant of Pala Band of Mission Indians), 2L, NNALSA Secretary, also attended. "We appreciate NNABA and NABA-AZ taking the time to come and speak with us and show support for our NALSA chapter," said Alisha Schmidt, NALSA President, University of Arizona. "NNABA and NABA-AZ seem incredibly active, which is encouraging for students and up and coming lawyers. It's great to know that we have networks that support us, now and as we become attorneys."

Arizona Summit Law School, Phoenix, Arizona
Arizona Summit Law School Zach Divelbiss, Student Bar Association Public Relations Representative, scheduled the visit. Kandy Andreport, Cherokee and a 1L, expressed interest in starting a NALSA chapter and the students were excited about the connections with NNABA and NABA-AZ. "During Ms. Benally's visit to ASLS, she presented the missions of the NNABA and NABA-AZ as well as report on the current study" said Andreport. "As a Native American law student, this gave me more detailed insight to the programs available during my law school career and once I enter the legal field. I also learned about national NABA events that law school students can participate in that I had not known about before."

The NNABA Foundation is honored to partner with the NABA-AZ to ensure new Native American attorneys grow and progress in the legal profession, whether it is in the top law firms, corporations, or the federal and state judiciary. "This joint outreach was the first of its kind in Arizona and a great opportunity for NABA-AZ and NNABA to interface with Native American law students to show our support," said NABA-AZ President Diandra Benally. "It is our hope this joint outreach will continue next year and years thereafter."

On a personal note, President Linda Benally thanks Diandra Benally, President, and the NABA-AZ Board of Directors for their support and partnership. Benally truly appreciates the warm welcome and support of NALSA Chapter Presidents Glennas'ba Augborne and Alisha Schmidt.


The control and administration of the ABA is vested in the House of Delegates, the policy-making body of the association. The House of Delegates, established in 1936, meets twice each year, at ABA Annual and Midyear Meetings.

At the Midyear Meeting, the Nominating Committee nominates officers and members of the Board of Governors. During the Annual Meeting, the full house votes on these nominees and on any nominations made by petition.

Action taken by the House of Delegates on specific issues becomes official ABA policy. In its role as the policy-making body of the Association, the House of Delegates meets at the Midyear Meeting in February and the Annual Meeting in August. At each meeting, the House considers and adopts new policy resolutions on a broad range of issues related to the legal profession. Once resolutions are adopted as official ABA policy, the Governmental Affairs Office coordinates implementation of the policies and serves as the focal point for the Association's advocacy efforts before Congress, the Executive Branch and other governmental entities.

As of August 27, 2015, the House of Delegates consisted of 589 members. Robert Saunooke serves as NNABA's representative to the ABA House of Delegates.


Mr. Saunooke is a graduate of Washington and Lee Law School and in his practice has continued a long familial history of working with Native Americans and Tribal Governments. For over 25 years he has worked with a number of Tribal Governments throughout Indian Country assisting them in enacting legislation, state and federal litigation, business development, creation of court systems and codifying their own laws. Most recently Mr. Saunooke spent a second term as the Legal and Policy Advisor to the Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Hard Rock International which is owned by the Seminole Tribe.

Mr. Saunooke has been an instructor and educator for various Federal, State and Tribal law enforcement officials throughout the United States on jurisdictional issues between states and Tribes relating to the application and enforcement of the Adam Walsh Sexual Offender Act; Violence Against Women's Act and various State and Federal laws and their application throughout Indian Country. Mr. Saunooke is also a mediator utilizing Native American Mediation techniques in civil and family conflict resolution.

In addition to serving as the NNABA Representative to the ABA House of Delegates, Mr. Saunooke also serves as Chairman of the American Bar Associations Tribal Courts Council, Standing Committee on Minorities in the Judiciary and the ABA Lawyer's Conference. Mr. Saunooke is also an ABA Presidential appointee to the Standing Committee on Federal Fute of Legal Services and Judicial Improvement. Locally he is a member of the BCBA, SBBA, and is also the first male executive board member of the Broward County Women's Law Association's Board of Directors. Mr. Saunooke is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, has three children and resides with his wife in Florida.


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  

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National Native American Bar Association
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