JUNE 2015

Summer Graphic

Ya’at’eeh/Greetings, NNABA members:

As I mentioned in the May e-newsletter, a focus area during my presidential term is 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. To support that goal, I recently visited the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association (see article below). I will be visiting the Navajo Nation Bar Association at their annual conference in June. I am also excited about the launch of NNABA’s presentations and discussions on the findings of the first-of-its-kind study on Native Americans in the legal profession (see article below). Ultimately, NNABA – and hopefully others – will use the findings in this study to develop educational materials and programs that will help improvethe recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of Native American attorneys in the legal profession. I look forward to meeting many of you in the near future. NNABA could not do what we do without the support of our members. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as NNABA President. Ahéhee’.

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 study on the status of Native American attorneys was unveiled in April 2015. The study provides a picture of the issues confronting Native American attorneys across all settings, including private practice; government practice in state, federal and tribal arenas; the judiciary; the corporate legal departments; and academia. Mary Smith, immediate past president, said “The research reveals that Native American attorneys are systematically excluded from full participation in the legal profession, and we hope that the research will start a dialogue and result in concrete steps to create a more robust pipeline.”

Since its release, NNABA has presented the study results in a number of different forums. Most recently, NNABA has presented its report at the Northwestern University Law School Native American Law Student Association Kick-Off Panel in Chicago and at the ABA’s Minority Bar Conference in Chicago in May. NNABA’s Immediate Past-President Mary Smith presented on behalf of NNABA at both events.

The Pursuit of Inclusion: An In-Depth Exploration of the Experiences and Perspectives of Native American Attorneys in the Legal Profession

June 4, 2015
Twin Arrows Casino Resort
Flagstaff, AZ
Navajo Nation Bar Association, Inc. 2015 Annual Conference
Revitalizing the Navajo Nation
Bar Association
Linda Benally
NNABA President
June 8, 2015
Washington, DC
Presentation to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Sponsored by the American Indian Heritage Committee
Mary Smith
NNABA Immediate Past President with introduction by Mary Jo White, Chair of the SEC

To learn more about the study, please click here.


Pam Graves, Deward Walker, Leo Dayish, James Botsford, Linda Benally, Steve Moore and John Echohawk.

On May 5-6, 2015 the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and Steve Moore, NARF Staff Attorney hosted a pro bono team, Walker Research Group, Ltd and the leadership of the Native American Church of North America, Inc. (NACNA) in Boulder, Colorado. Steve Moore, David Armstrong (Wisconsin Judicare), James Botsford and President Linda Benally have had the privilege of serving as pro bono co-counsels to the Native American Church (NAC) for many years. The pro bono legal team defends the NAC’s American Indian religious freedom rights.

The NACNA commissioned a study to capture a snapshot of the NAC twenty years after the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA). AIRFA was signed into law in 1994. The study was funded by NARF and conducted by Deward Walker with the Walker Research Group.

During lunch on Thursday afternoon, the team had the opportunity to chat with John Echohawk and listen to his personal stories about his acceptance to University of New Mexico law school, the start of his legal career at California Indian Legal Services, and the inception of NARF via funding by the Ford Foundation. He also shared his recollection about the birth of the National Native American Law Students Association and the National Native American Bar Association. He stated that NNABA started in Denver, Colorado over 40 years ago, and recalled that Thomas Fredericks served as the NNABA’s founding President for several years.

NARF is celebrating 45 years of service this year and will be hosting celebratory events in Denver, Colorado on November 4-7, 2015. NARF is a strong supporter of NNABA and Indian Country.


Linda Benally with MAIBA leadership – Lenny Fineday, Phil Brodeen, and Veronica Newcomer.

NNABA extends a huge appreciation to the Minnesota American Indian Bar (MAIBA)! NNABA received a very warm welcome from the MAIBA when President Linda Benally traveled to Hinckley, Minnesota on May 14-15 to meet MAIBA members and to attend their Indian Law CLE. Reid Raymond, MAIBA CLE committee chair, hosted a reception for Benally. The reception was sponsored by Swanson, Drobnick & Tousey P.C. (an all-Native American attorney women firm based in Woodbury, MN).

Benally met with MAIBA leadership, including President Phil Brodeen, Vice-President Lenny Fineday, and Secretary Veronica Newcomer. Treasurer Susan Allen was unable to attend due to the state legislature being in session. It was a pleasant personal meeting where both NNABA and MAIBA shared information. At the opening session of the Indian Law CLE, President Benally offered remarks, which included a brief overview of NNABA, the Native American Attorney Study, and highlighted several NNABA resolutions.

MAIBA leadership, Reid Raymond and Shauna Coons expressed their appreciation for NNABA representation at the annual Indian Law CLE and look forward to partnering with NNABA. Linda Benally sends personal thanks to Reid Raymond, Heidi Drobnick, and Shauna Coons for their support in coordinating the MAIBA visit.

Steve Baird, Reid Raymond, Heidi Drobnick, Suzan Harjo, Larry Leventhal, Shauna Coons, and Chairman Chris McGeshick, Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.

Linda Benally with Mary Al Baber, MAIBA member and Chairwoman Karen Diver, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

MAIBA CLE co-chairs Reid Raymond and Shauna Coons.


The editors of Arizona Law Review are pleased to announce the publication of Issue 57:1 which features the article “Curing the Tribal Disenrollment Epidemic: In Search of a Remedy” by Gabriel S. Galanda and Ryan D. Dreveskracht. The article provides a comprehensive analysis of tribal membership, and the divestment thereof—commonly known as “disenrollment.” Chiefly caused by the proliferation of Indian gaming revenue distributions to tribal members over the last 25 years, the rate of tribal disenrollment has spiked to epidemic proportions and is without a remedy. The article, using historic and contemporary case studies, details the federal government’s role in promoting disenrollment and describes how disenrollment operates in ways that are antithetical to tribal sovereignty and self-determination. It concludes with potential solutions to cure the tribal disenrollment epidemic.

For the full article, please click here.


NNABA signed on to the Casey Family Programs’ letter in support of the Bureau of Indian Affair’s (BIA) proposed Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) regulations. The letter expresses support for the proposed regulations by the BIA to more consistently and effectively apply the ICWA). The signatories conveyed, “We believe that ICWA embodies the gold standard for child welfare policies and practices in the United States. Uniform fidelity to the law throughout the United States would advance the interests of Indian children. Because such uniformity is currently lacking, we strongly believe promulgating regulations is an essential step to ensuring full compliance with ICWA.”

President-Elect Jennifer Weddle said, “Many of NNABA members are welfare advocates, and NNABA supports the clarity and framework for efficient, just results for children that the draft regulations provide.”

To see the letter support, please click here.


OIBA’S 25th Anniversary Luncheon and Reception Scheduled for June 3, 2015, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Indian Bar Association (OIBA) will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary on Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at the Oklahoma City Petroleum Club. The celebration includes a luncheon at Noon, and a reception at 5:30 PM. For more information on how to RSVP, please contact Arvo Mikkanen, OIBA President, at arvo.mikkanen@usdoj.gov.

The OIBA is a group of Native American and non-Indian attorneys, judges, law students, and tribal court clerks interested in the advancement of the understanding of federal Indian law in Oklahoma.

NWIBA’S Annual Awards Banquet Scheduled for June 11, 2015 in Seattle, Washington

The Northwest Indian Bar Association's (NWIBA) Annual Awards Banquet will be held on Thursday, June 11, 2015 starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Seattle Aquarium, 1483 Alaskan Way in Seattle, Washington. Tickets to the Awards Banquet are available up to June 8, 2015. If you are interested in attending, please contact Sandy Wiley at wiles@foster.com.

NWIBA is a non-profit organization comprised of Indian attorneys, judges and Indian Law practitioners in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and in spirit in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory, which aspires to improve the legal and political landscape for the Pacific Northwest Indian Country.

NABA-AZ will hold Annual Meeting on June 26, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona

The Native American Bar of Arizona (NABA-AZ) is pleased to welcome Gabe Galanda as the guest speaker for the Annual Meeting, June 26, 2015. Gabe will present the recently published article, “Curing the Tribal Disenrollment Epidemic: In Search of a Remedy,” which he co-authored with Ryan D. Dreveskracht, published in the Arizona Law Review, May, 2015. Gabe Galanda is a Board member of the National Native American Bar Association. Gabe is a graduate of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, and is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. He is a founding partner of the law firm Galanda Broadman, PLLC, in Seattle; his firm represents tribal governments, businesses and members in all varieties of dispute resolution and business matters. The Annual Meeting will be held on June 26, 2015, at Noon, at the Capital Grille, in Phoenix, AZ. If you are interested in attending, please contact Kerry Patterson at KPatterson@LRRLaw.com.

Formed in 2007, NABA-AZ is a 501(c)(3) organization, organized to promote and support Native Americans in the practice of law in Arizona. Our members are also non-Indian attorneys who practice Indian law and committed to the development of Native American Attorneys.


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 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 adminassistant@nativeamericanbar.org