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MAY 2015

Spring Graphic

Ya’at’eeh/Greetings, NNABA members:

I am delighted that my term as NNABA President has started. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the NNABA Executive Committee and the NNABA Board: and the independent directors of the NNABA Foundation.

An area of focus during my term will be to grow the NNABA enterprise and strengthen relationships with our American Indian Bar Associations and committees to best serve the interests of the Native American legal community. I am excited about and thankful for the planned visits with the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association in May and the Navajo Nation Bar Association in June. I am also excited about the continuing efforts of NNABA Young Lawyer Division (YLD) Council Representative Colleen Lamarre and YLD Assembly representatives Thomasina Real Bird and Lauren van Schilfgaarde.

I look forward to meeting many of you in the coming year! NNABA could not do what we do without the support of our members. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as NNABA’s President. Ahéehee’.

Linda Benally
Linda Benally
NNABA President, 2015-2016


The Pursuit of Inclusion: An In-Depth Exploration of the Experiences and Perspectives of Native American Attorneys in the Legal Profession, NNABA’s first-of-its-kind research on the status of Native American attorneys, was unveiled during a plenary session at the Federal Bar Association’s 2015 Indian Law Conference held at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. The panel entitled "Strength in Numbers: Native American Attorneys from Pre-Law to Practice” included NNABA Past-President Mary Smith; Dr. Arin Reeves, nationally-known and esteemed expert on diversity and inclusive research who lead the study for NNABA; Francine Jaramillo, attorney at the American Indian Law Center; and NNABA Secretary Makalika Naholowa’a. The panel was moderated by Helen Padilla, Director, American Indian Law Center.

For the full report, please click here.


Annual Meeting

NNABA held its annual meeting on April 8, 2015. At that time, NNABA elected leadership and the board of directors. The membership also passed resolutions:

  • Supporting Implementation of the Indian Law and Order Commission Recommendations
  • Supporting Implementation of the Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence Report
  • Supporting Implementation of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and Title IX of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
  • Increasing Native American representation in the Federal Judiciary, Requesting Federal Civil Rights
  • Investigation into Death of Christian Dawn Tahhahwah in City of Lawton, Oklahoma Jail
  • Supporting Equal Protection and Due Process for any Divestment of the American Indigenous Right of Tribal Citizenship
  • Affirming the Inclusion of Indian Law on State Bar Licensing Exams
  • Supporting Pocantico Call to Action on Climate Impacts and Cultural Heritage

Thank you for attending the Annual Meeting. Click HERE for the full text of all the resolutions.

At the close of the Annual Meeting, NNABA leadership gathered with friends, supporters and sponsors for a reception at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Lawerence Baca received the President’s Award at the reception.

Thank you to Perkins Coie LLP and Microsoft Corporation for sponsoring the reception.


Annual Meeting

The NNABA Young Lawyers Committee (YLC) was established in the Winter of 2014. The YLC’s focus is issues facing the newest generation of Native attorneys. YLC strives to create an energetic networking space for Natives, encourage the development of Indian law, and encourage the professional development of Native attorneys in all legal sectors. This mission has been underscored by the startling findings of the NNABA Native American Attorney Study. In February of 2015, the YLC was represented at the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division (YLD) council meeting and general assembly by one representative and three delegates. NNABA’s YLC members commented on the potential negative impact of the ABA’s endorsement of the Uniform Bar Exam. The ABA’s endorsement could result in Indian law being removed from state bar exams. The YLC anticipates the same level of representation at the ABA annual meeting in August 2015. In June 2015, the YLC will have at least two representatives attend the ABA Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy in Minneapolis, MN.

In April 2015, immediately following the NNABA annual meeting, the YLC held their first in-person meeting. The YLC will hold telephone meetings every even-numbered month. Our next meeting will take place June 12th at 10am PST/1pm EST, and you’re invited! YLC is open to all interested NNABA members. The YLC will be selecting its 2015-2016 leadership at this meeting, so we especially encourage those interested in a leadership role within the group to attend. If you are interested in learning more about YLC, contact Fatima Abbas at


In April 2015 Linda Benally (Diné/Navajo) ascended to the Presidency for a one-year term, Mary Smith becomes Immediate Past President, and Jennifer Weddle elected as President-Elect.

Benally proudly joins twenty-eight other Native American lawyers who have led the organization since its inception in 1973. The following list of Indian Nations represents the communities of past NNABA presidents: Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara, Cheyenne/Arapaho, Karuk Tribe of California Indians, Pawnee, Chippewa Cree, San Carlos Apache, Menominee, Oneida, Jicarilla Apache, Catawba/Cherokee, Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne/Arapaho, Choctaw, Assiniboine, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Lumbee, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Aleut, Nez Perce, Cheyenne River Sioux and Pointe-au-Chien. NNABA's Founding President is Thomas Fredericks who served as President in its early years from 1973-1976. The Board plans to continue building on the stellar efforts of past leadership.

NNABA Executive Board:
President Linda Benally, Pinnacle West Capital Corporation
President-Elect Jennifer Weddle, Greenberg Traurig
Immediate Past-President Mary Smith, Office of the Special Deputy Receiver
Secretary Makalika Naholowaa, Microsoft Corporation
Treasurer Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

At-Large Directors:
Diandra Benally, Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation
Hunter Cox, University of Michigan Law School
Gabriel S. Galanda, Galanda Broadman, PLLC
Loren Kieve, Kieve Law Offices
Robert Osley Saunooke, Esq, Saunooke Law Firm, PA
Lauren Van Schilfgaarde, Tribal Law and Policy Institute


The Minnesota American Indian Bar Association (MAIBA) is co-sponsoring 2015 Indian Law Conference with Minnesota CLE (MinnCLE) on Friday May 15, 2015 at Grand Casino Hinckley. Join MAIBA to learn about the Use of Indian Names, Symbols and Mascots in Sports among other cutting edge CLE presentations. MAIBA has discounted rates for many attorneys who are on the front lines representing Native people and/or are employed by Tribal, State or Federal government. See attached brochure and use the MinnCLE link below to register.

MAIBA is a non-profit organization of American Indian attorneys, law students, and officers of tribal courts. The organization also welcomes non-Indian attorneys and law students who are interested in Indian Law.


Annual Golf Fundraiser

On April 11, 2015, NABA-AZ held another successful scholarship fundraiser. Understanding that Native American law students are finding it increasingly difficult to afford law school due to the cost of tuition rising each year. The financial burdens of law school can prevent and delay legal education of many Native American law students who often are supporting their families while pursuing their law degrees. That is why, in 2008, NABA-AZ held its first annual golf tournament to provide financial assistance to Native law students in Arizona to help offset the increasingly high cost of tuition. Since 2008, NABA-AZ has provided over $45,000 in scholarship assistance to Native law students to help them achieve their educational goals. To learn more about NABA-AZ or to become a member, you can visit NABA-AZ’s website at or email


ABA’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession

Minority Counsel Program 2015

The ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession (the Commission) invites you to join us at the Commission 2015 Minority Counsel Program at the ABA Headquarters in Chicago on May 20-21, 2015.

For more than 25 years, the Commission’s Minority Counsel Program has served as a showcase event bringing racially diverse lawyers who are experts in varied practice areas to make CLE presentations to a broad, national legal audience ranging from in-house counsel and large firms to specialty boutique firms and government attorneys. This purposefully intimate event presents a uniquely personal networking environment for attendees to discuss substantive legal topics as well as the most current and pressing racial legal issues in our communities and society.

On May 20 of MCP 2015, Mary Smith, Immediate Past President, NNABA and Special Counsel & Estate Trust Officer, Office of Special Deputy Receiver and Dr. Arin Reeves, President, Nextions will serve on a panel entitled Forty Years Later: What is the State of Young Native American Lawyers in the Legal Profession?

This lively panel will discuss the groundbreaking results of the research sponsored by NNABA that provides a picture of the issues confronting young Native American attorneys across all settings including private practice; government practice in state, federal and tribal arenas; the judiciary; corporate legal departments; and academia. This interactive session will examine the experiences, and career trajectories of Native American attorneys, both from the perspective of more seasoned attorneys to attorneys just beginning their careers.


Our Attorney Membership Form and Student Membership Form are available to download as PDF files. Benefits of being a NNABA member include weekly 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 is now able to accept 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