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The National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) is the voice of the Native American legal community. Founded in 1973, NNABA serves as the national association for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NNABA strives for justice and effective legal representation for all American indigenous peoples; fosters the development of Native American lawyers and judges; and addresses social, cultural and legal issues affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.

During her term as President from 2013-2015, President Mary Smith laid out six priorities for NNABA (1) Raising the visibility of NNABA and Native American attorneys; (2) Increasing the Pipeline and Leadership of Native American attorneys; (3) Improving Member Benefits; (4) Strengthening the Organization and Governance; (5) Establishing a NNABA Foundation; and (6) Promoting Diversity and Inclusion, the Rule of Law, and Access to Justice.

Below are NNABA's accomplishments:

    • JUDICIARY PROJECT: One of the main projects of NNABA is its Judiciary Project which works to identify and support Native American attorneys for positions in the federal judiciary. NNABA has worked with the White House, Congress, and other organizations such as the National Congress of American Indian (NCAI), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and other civil rights organizations to identify and promote Native Americans in the federal judiciary.
      • NNABA was proud to support the historic confirmation on May 14, 2014, of Diane Humetewa to be a district court judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Ms. Humetewa, an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe, is the first Native American woman in the history of our nation to serve on the federal judiciary, and is the only American Indian serving as an Article III judge in the federal judiciary.
    • EXECUTIVE BRANCH APPOINTMENTS: NNABA also supports Native American attorneys for Executive Branch appointments. NNABA supported the historic confirmation on June 3, 2014 of Keith Harper as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Harper is the first Native American and the first enrolled tribal member to serve as an Ambassador for the United States.
    • BAR APPOINTMENTS: NNABA has begun a more institutionalized process to support the appointment of its members to positions in the American Bar Association (ABA). NNABA has had much success including placements on the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession and as a liaison to ABA President William Hubbard's signature effort - the Commission on the Future of Legal Services - so that the voice of the NNABA is heard in this important undertaking.
    • AWARD RECOGNITION: NNABA is working to raise the visibility of Native American attorneys and the important work they do. To this end, NNABA makes a concerted effort to nominate Native American attorneys for ABA awards such as the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement award, the Spirit of Excellence award, and the Thurgood Marshall award, which recognizes long-term commitments to the advancement of civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights in the United States. In 2015, NNABA was proud to nominate Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn for the Spirit of Excellence award. NNABA also was proud to support Lawrence Baca, NNABA's Treasurer, as the first American Indian recipient of the Thurgood Marshall award in the over-twenty year history of the award.
    • NATIVE AMERICAN ATTORNEY RESEARCH INITIATIVE: To enhance the full understanding and inclusion of Native American attorneys, NNABA has embarked on an exciting new project: a comprehensive research project on Native American attorneys that examines their perspectives, experiences, and career trajectories. This research will be the first-of-its-kind. Ultimately, the findings from this study will be used to develop educational materials and programs that will help improve the pipeline of Native Americans to attend law school the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of Native American attorneys in the legal profession. This research will be published in the Spring of 2015. For more information, click HERE.
    • LAW SCHOOL ADMISSION WORKSHOP: NNABA, along with the Indian Legal Program at ASU was proud to host the Native American Law School Admissions Workshop on August 6-7, 2014, at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. The Native American Law School Admissions Workshop is a two-day workshop meant to assist Native American undergraduate students, as well as any others interested in Indian Law, learn how to apply to law school, as well as learn about career opportunities a Law Degree can create. The workshop helps participants to (a) Learn how to produce quality applications; (b) Write effective and memorable personal statements; (c) Receive information on the LSAT; and (d) Explore special issues and strategies for Native American students' success in law school.
    • COLLABORATIVE BAR LEADERSHIP ACADEMY: NNABA was one of the founders of the Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy (CBLA). NNABA had a total of 10 participants combined in the inaugural and second annual Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy (CBLA) which were both held in Minneapolis. The CBLA is a collaborative effort among the ABA, Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), National Bar Association (NBA), NNABA, and National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). The CBLA strengthens the pipeline of diverse bar association leaders through leadership training and professional development programs. President Mary Smith and President-Elect Linda Benally were both members of the CBLA Steering Committee and presenters at the CBLA. NNABA is currently partnering on the third annual CBLA to be held again in Minneapolis in June 2015. For more information, please view the CBLA page HERE.
    • NEW YOUNG LAWYER DIVISION REPRESENTATIVES: For the first time ever, NNABA is sending three young lawyer delegates to the ABA Midyear and Annual Meetings to represent NNABA in the ABA Young Lawyer Division (YLD).
    • NEW YOUNG LAWYER COMMITTEE: Created in 2014, the NNABA Young Lawyers Committee is committed to representing the newest members of the profession and to providing young lawyers with opportunities for mentorship, networking, professional development, and programming. For more information, view the NNABA Young Lawyers Committee homepage HERE.
    • NEW WEBSITE: In January 2014, NNABA launched a website with new design and functionality. NNABA's new website is the place to go to see NNABA's nationwide job announcements, initiatives, letters of support, and press releases. NNABA's website also has new functionality such as being able to pay membership dues via credit card. For more information, click HERE.
    • NEW REGULAR NEWSLETTERS: In July 2013, NNABA began issuing regular e-newsletters to inform its members of its activities, programs of interest, award opportunities, and to highlight the accomplishments of Native American attorneys. To view past e-newsletters, click HERE.
    • NATIONAL JOB ANNOUNCEMENTS: NNABA has continued to provide a valuable benefit to its members by sending weekly job announcements on its national listserve. To view the job announcements, click HERE.
    • REGULAR PRESS RELEASES: Beginning in 2013, NNABA began issuing regular press releases to its members on news from the White House, legal developments, confirmations and nominations, and news from NNABA and other bar associations. To view past press releases, click HERE.
    • PROGRAMMING: NNABA co-sponsors many programs throughout the years including the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP) Symposia regarding the State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession and serving as a cooperating entity for the ABA Section of International Law 2014 Fall Conference and 2014 North America Regional Forum. NNABA is sponsoring several panel discussions in 2015 to discuss its groundbreaking research on Native American attorneys.
    • STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION: Following on Immediate Past President Patty Ferguson-Bohnee's lead, NNABA now has annual strategic planning sessions. During these sessions, the Board sets strategic priorities for the upcoming bar year. The strategic planning sessions for 2013 and 2014 were held in Phoenix, Arizona.
    • INCORPORATION AND TAX-EXEMPT STATUS: NNABA was incorporated as an Arizona corporation in July 2013 and received its tax-exempt status determination from the IRS as a 501(c)(6) in August 2014.
    • NATIONAL ACCOUNTING FIRM HIRED: In February 2014, NNABA hired the national accounting firm of McGladrey to prepare its tax returns and to advise the organization on tax issues.
    • NEW STRATEGIC CORPORATION PARTNERSHIPS: NNABA has broadened its base of strategic partnerships and sponsors to include global corporations, law firms, tribes, bar associations, and other organizations.
    • SUCCESSFUL FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN: Coordinating with the new NNABA Foundation, NNABA successfully launched a nationwide fundraising campaign to fund its groundbreaking Native American attorney research initiative and scholarships for law students. The campaign met and exceeded its goal by raising over $100,000 from law firms, corporations, tribes, individuals, and other organizations. To view the research sponsors, click HERE.
    • NNABA FOUNDATION: On May 2014, the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA), a 501(c)(6) organization, incorporated the NNABA Foundation (the "Foundation"), which is a 501(c)(3) organization and will serve as the charitable arm of NNABA. The general nature of the business to be transacted by the Foundation is fostering the development of Native American lawyers, and addressing social, cultural, and legal issues affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, through the grant of scholarships to law students, the organization of seminars and conferences on topics of interest to the legal profession, and the preparation and distribution of articles and reports on legal issues. To view the NNABA Foundation's homepage, click HERE.
    • SCHOLARSHIPS FOR NATIVE AMERICAN LAW STUDENTS: In March 2015, the NNABA Foundation awarded its inaugural round of scholarships to six recipients who demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to serving Native American communities. For more information, click HERE.
    • RESOLUTION TO ADOPT RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE INDIAN LAW AND ORDER COMMISSION: On February 9, 2015, the ABA House of Delegates passed a resolution co-sponsored by the NNABA to adopt the recommendations in the Indian Law and Order Commission (ILOC) report of November 2013, "A Roadmap for Making Native America Safer," with the exception of the new circuit court provision contained in Recommendation 1.2. Following passage by the ABA House of Delegations, this resolution is now official ABA policy. For more information, click HERE.
    • AMENDMENT TO THE ABA CONSTITUTION TO PERMIT TRIBAL COURT PRACTITIONERS TO BE FULL MEMBERS: NNABA cosponsored a historic resolution before the ABA House of Delegates to amend the ABA Constitution to permit tribal court practitioners to be full members of the ABA. The August 11, 2014 vote of the House of Delegates was unanimous. This resolution - at long last - puts tribal court bar admissions on equal footing with the bars of states, territories and possessions of the United States. To learn more, click HERE.
    • AMERICAN INDIAN TRIBAL LAW DESKBOOK: NNABA is cosponsoring The American Tribal Law Deskbook (by Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Wenona T. Singel, and Kathryn E. Fort), which is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2016. "American Indian tribal law" is the law of American Indian tribes and the common law established by tribal courts. The Deskbook will be the first guide to the practice of law before American Indian tribal courts. It will include introductory materials on the background and history of tribal governments and tribal justice systems, but the book's main goal is to provide sufficient practice-oriented materials to allow the reader to begin practice in tribal courts and other tribal forums, including tribal legislative and administrative entities.
    • LANDSCAPE OF LEGAL DIVERSITY PUBLICATION: NNABA contributed to the Landscape of Legal Diversity: By the Numbers, a collaborative project of the American Bar Association Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and the Law School Admission Council, in conjunction with the American Bar Foundation. This publication is designed to be a centralized resource for key diversity statistics in the legal community and features statistics, data, and research compiled from a broad range of reliable sources in the legal academy and profession.
    • NNABA JOINS LETTER URGING DIVERSITY IN MDL APPOINTMENT: On October 7, 2014, NNABA joined a letter from the Consortium for Advancing Women Lawyers, of which NNABA is a member, urging more specific guidance should be included in the MDL Standards and Best Practices regarding the manner in which court appointments may be made to promote gender, race, and ethnic diversity. To view the letter, click HERE.
    • COMMENT ON FEDERAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT PROCESS: NNABA passed a resolution to support changes to the Federal Acknowledgement Process and has submitted this resolution as a comment to the Federal Acknowledgement proposed rule that was issued by the Department of the Interior on May 22, 2014. The proposed regulations would reform the 35-year old process by which the Department of the Interior officially recognizes Indian tribes. After federal acknowledgement, the U.S. Government serves as the trustee for tribal lands and resources, and tribal members and governments are then eligible for federal budget assistance and program services. To view NNABA's resolution, click HERE.
    • AMICUS BRIEF IN INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT CASE: On June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act in a 5-4 decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. The Court reversed and remanded to the South Carolina court on a narrow issue of procedure. The narrow decision focused on the standard to determine whether this particular father"s parental rights could be terminated. NNABA had filed an amicus brief in this case.
    • COALITION OF BAR ASSOCIATIONS OF COLOR ADVOCACY DAY: The Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) was established in 1992 and is comprised of the HNBA, the NBA, NNABA, and NAPABA. Leaders from these organizations meet annually to discuss issues of mutual concern and to advocate in support of our shared interests with the executive branch and with elected officials. In 2014, NNABA, along with the other bars of color, advocated for strengthening the Voting Rights Act as well as advancing the Paycheck Fairness Act. In 2015, CBAC representatives urged diversity in judicial appointments along with other issues. To view the 2015 CBAC press release, click HERE.
    • AMICUS BRIEF IN FISHER CASE: In June 2013, NNABA joined in the CBAC press release on the Supreme Court"s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin to reaffirm the principle that diversity in higher education is a compelling national interest. NNABA had joined the CBAC amicus curiae brief. The brief highlighted the progress made in diversifying the legal profession since the Court"s ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, while discussing the continued need for race-conscious admissions programs to further the diversification of the legal profession. To read the CBAC press release, click HERE.
    • REPORT TO U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE REGARDING AMERICAN INDIGENOUS PRISONERS' RELIGIOUS RIGHTS: NNABA has signed onto a report to the U.N. Human Rights Committee regarding indigenous prisoners" rights to practice traditional Indian religion. NNABA previously sponsored a resolution on this issue for CBAC. To view the report, click HERE.
    • NNABA SIGNS ONTO LETTER TO CHANGE THE NAME OF THE WASHINGTON, D.C. FOOTBALL TEAM: On May 28, 2014, NNABA joined as a signatory to the letter that was sent by more than seventy Indian tribes and civil rights organizations to NFL players, urging that the NFL team in Washington, DC, change its name and mascot. To view the letter, click HERE.
    • STATE DEPARTMENT CONSULTATION ON THE 2014 WORLD CONFERENCE ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES: On May 9, 2014, NNABA President Mary Smith attended the U.S. Department of State Consultation with Representatives of the U.S. Government, U.S. Federally Recognized Tribes, and NGOs and Other Indigenous Peoples to Discuss Views on the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Topics included identifying mechanisms to address violence against indigenous women; status of indigenous peoples in the United Nations; the development of natural resources; and working to repatriate sacred and culturally significant items.