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Introducing Our E-Newsletter

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Hello, NNABA members:

We would like to introduce a new feature for NNABA members in the form of a regular e-newsletter.

These e-newsletters will contain news, announcements, NNABA Partner announcements, member highlights, and other features. If you have comments or suggestions, we would very much like to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us at

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July! NNABA would particularly like to honor all the Native American service members who have served or are currently serving our country.

Mary Smith
Mary Smith
NNABA President, 2013-2015

Supreme Court Decision on ICWA

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. The brief was drafted by Arizona State University Indian Legal Clinic students under the supervision of Professor Robert Clinton and Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Immediate Past NNABA President. Click here for a copy of the brief.

Supreme Court's Decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

NNABA joined in the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) - 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) - 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.

The Supreme Court partially vacated a lower court ruling that had upheld the right of the University of Texas at Austin to partially consider race in its admissions' policy. However, in deciding Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, it left intact the precedent it set in Grutter v. Bollinger, which allows schools to consider racial diversity as an admissions factor.

Last summer, CBAC filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case. The brief highlights 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.

NNABA Fourtieth Anniversary Celebration

Congratulations to NNABA on its 40th Anniversary! On April 12, 2013, NNABA hosted an anniversary dinner in Santa Fe, NM. Two-time past NNABA President (’96-’97 and ’01-’02) Kirke Kickingbird graciously agreed to serve as the Emcee for the evening. The following individuals spoke on the following topics:

• Sam Deloria: Native American Attorneys Entering the Legal Profession

• Inaugural NNABA President ('73-'76) Tom Fredericks: The inception of the association - 1973: The Dawning of a New Era;

• Three-time past NNABA President ('83-'84, '84-'85 and '99-'00) Lawrence Baca: The evolution of NNABA and the practice of Indian Law; and

• Past NNABA President ('98-'99) Kalyn Free: The current landscape of Indian Law and how NNABA serves as the platform to address national challenges.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended. Special thanks to our speakers and to Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Linda Benally, Margaret Hirchak, Ann Marie Downes, and Jennifer Williams for all their help in organizing the event.

Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy

The Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy (CBLA) is a joint initiative of the American Bar Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, National Bar Association, and National Native American Bar Association. The Collaborative Bar Leadership was held June 27-28, 2013 in Minneapolis, MN. NNABA President Mary Smith and NNABA President-Elect Linda Benally were speakers at CBLA.

NNABA is pleased to announce the inaugural class for the CBLA. The following Native American attorneys traveled from around the country to attend: Diandra Benally, Leonard Fineday, Jeanine Johnson, Sara Setshwaelo, Leah Sixkiller, Joel West Williams

Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) Annual Meeting

Immediate Past President Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and President-Elect Linda Benally

Immediate Past President Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and President-Elect Linda Benally participated in CBAC meetings. CBAC met and passed 19 Resolutions, including on Religious Freedom for Native American Prisoners, Tribal Court Funding, and Urging Nominations of Native Americans to the Judiciary on April 23, 2013. NNABA and NNABA-DC members attended a CBAC reception following. Immediate Past President Ferguson-Bohnee and President-Elect Benally also participated in CBAC visits on the Hill as well as in a meeting with White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler and White House Special Counsel Christopher Kang on April 24, 2013.

CBAC Photos
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Judicial Nominations

On June 5, 2013, NNABA Treasurer and Co-Chair of NNABA’s Judicial Review Committee Lawrence Baca met with White House officials along with community and organizational leaders from around the country to discuss the judicial vacancy crisis that has left over 80 courts vacant and 32 judicial emergencies across the country. Out of 874 Article III judgeships, there are currently no American Indians. For more information, click here.

Nomination of Keith Harper as Ambassador to UN Human Rights Council

On June 10, 2013, the White House nominated Keith Harper to be Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Upon confirmation, Keith Harper will join a small number of Native peoples who have been called upon to serve the United States as Ambassador. NNABA supports the nomination and urges a speedy confirmation. For more information, click here.


Our Attorney Membership Form and Student Membership Form are available to download as Word 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 $50 per year. At this time, NNABA is able to accept checks and money orders for payment of dues.

If you have any questions about membership or experience any difficulty with downloading, please feel free to contact us at


ABA Annual Meeting
When: August 8-13, 2013
Where: San Francisco, CA
Click here for more information.

Spirit of Excellence Award
Sponsored by the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession
NOMINATION DEADLINE: July 15, 2013. This award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Awards are presented to lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. For more information, click here.

Alexander Award
ABA Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award, recognizing exemplary leadership in diversity pipeline work by an individual or organization. Deadline: Tuesday, October 1, 2013. For details click here.