Wednesday, June 25, 2014

NARF welcomes 2014 Summer Law Clerk and Siletz Grant Recipient, Hunter Cox

Attorney Matt Campbell, Law Clerk Hunter Cox, and
Executive Director John Echohawk recognize the grant
received from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund.

Each summer, NARF hosts the summer clerkship program, a ten- to twelve-week program for second-year law students.  Unlike most law clerk projects that consist mainly of legal research and writing, NARF’s projects are extremely challenging because NARF practices before federal, state, and tribal forums, and because most of its cases—whether at the administrative, trial, or appellate level—are complex and involve novel legal issues.

This summer the law clerk program was supported by a grant from the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians through the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund.  NARF currently has six law clerks—two in the Alaska office, one in the D.C. office, and three in the Boulder office.  Law Clerk Hunter Cox (Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation) was chosen to be the recipient of this grant due to his recent and impactful work collaborating with NARF Staff Attorney Steve Moore to protect the rights of Native high school students to wear their eagle feathers during their graduation ceremony.

Earlier this month, NARF, California Indian Legal Services (CILS), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California advocated on behalf of Native students in Lemoore, California, who wanted to wear eagle feathers at their graduation ceremony.  The gift of an eagle feather is a great honor and is typically given to recognize an important transition in a young person’s life.  Many graduates are given eagle feathers in recognition of their educational journey and the honor the graduate brings to his or her family, community, and tribe.  Hunter, along with Steve, CILS, and the ACLU, sent a letter on the students’ behalf requesting the school district to allow the students to wear their eagle feathers during graduation.  After receiving the letter, the school district relented and allowed the students to wear their feathers, despite originally denying the students' request.
 
To read the letter sent on the students’ behalf, click here.  And, to read the press about the students wearing their feathers, click here.

NARF thanks the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund for its grant to further the NARF law clerk program, which allows Native law students to make an impact on Indian law and to Native people during their term at NARF. 

For questions regarding eagle feathers, please contact NARF Staff Attorney Steve Moore at (303) 447-8760.  For questions about NARF's Law Clerk Program, please contact NARF Staff Attorney Matthew Campbell at (303) 447-8760.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Staff Attorney Brett Lee Shelton presents on NARF’s boarding school work

Last week, NARF Staff Attorney Brett Lee Shelton presented on NARF’s boarding school work at the Summer Research Training Institute for American Indian and Alaska Native Health Professionals.  The title of Brett’s talk was “Federal Indian Boarding Schools—Lasting Implications for Health,” and he focused on the federal Indian Boarding School policy’s major impacts on the health of American Indian and Alaska Native individuals, families, and communities, which continue to be felt today.  However, he explained, major impacts also imply opportunities for major healing, and the time to focus on turning back towards redeveloping health in our own lives, families, and communities has come.

Interested in learning more?  View our recent issue of the NARF Legal Review, which provides an overview of the history of the boarding school era and outlines NARF’s efforts to secure justice and healing for the multi-generational victims.
Flyer for June 19 presentation

Thursday, June 12, 2014

NARF hosts National Day of Prayer for the Protection of Native American Sacred Places on June 20

Please plan on joining us for a sunrise ceremony that will be held at 7:00 a.m., Friday, June 20, on the front lawn of the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colorado. The program and prayer service will last about one hour, followed by a potluck breakfast. Speakers will include Native elders and spiritual leaders as well as NARF attorneys involved in sacred places work.  Speakers will be followed by a moment of silence in honor of the many sacred places that are being threatened, damaged, and destroyed today.

As part of its mission, the Native American Rights Fund has long advocated for sacred site protection, religious freedom efforts, and cultural rights.  Recently, NARF expanded its efforts to protect lands that are sacred and precious to Native Americans.  As Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee), a national leader in the protection of sacred places and partner with NARF in its efforts in the area, explains, “Native and non-Native people gather at this Solstice time for ceremonies and events to honor sacred places . . . .  Observances are necessary because Native Peoples are engaged in myriad struggles with developers that endanger or destroy Native sacred places.”

Please show your support for the protection of sacred places by joining us for the June 20th program.  We ask you to please bring food and/or beverages to share at the completion of the program. Sharing of nourishment together is part of the ceremony.  Join us for a sunrise ceremony.

More information will be sent out as we get closer to Prayer Day.

NARF, CILS, and ACLU defend students’ rights to wear eagle feathers at graduation

NARF has long defended the right of Native American students to wear eagle feathers at graduation.  Earlier this month, NARF, California Indian Legal Services (CILS), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California advocated on behalf of Native students in Lemoore, California, who wanted to wear eagle feathers at their graduation ceremony.  The gift of an eagle feather is a great honor and is typically given to recognize an important transition in a young person’s life.  Many graduates are given eagle feathers in recognition of their educational journey and the honor the graduate brings to his or her community and tribe.

To read the letter sent on the students’ behalf, click here.  And, to read the press about the students wearing their feathers, click here.

NARF hosts art sale benefit for Office Manager Rose Cuny

On Saturday, July 12 at 6:30pm, NARF will host an art sale benefit for our longtime friend and office manager, Rose Cuny.  The event will take place at NARF’s Boulder office, located at 1506 Broadway.  All profits will go to Rose for medical expenses related to cancer treatment.  All are welcome to attend, and if you are able to donate art for the auction, please call (303) 447-8760 or email receptionist@narf.org or c.kelleigh.driscoll@gmail.com.  To download the flyer, click here and please consider joining us to support Rose! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

NARF staff attends and presents at NCAI Mid Year Conference in Alaska

This week, a number of NARF staff are in Anchorage, Alaska, for NCAI’s Mid Year Conference.  Yesterday, NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk and Staff Attorney Joel Williams presented the NCAI delegates with an update on legal developments in the United States Supreme Court and NARF’s work on the Tribal Supreme Court ProjectStaff Attorney Heather Whiteman Runs Him presented on the panel, U.N. Advocacy: Protecting and Promoting Tribal Sovereignty at the United Nations, and Staff Attorney Natalie A. Landreth presented at Native Vote 2020: Our Vote, Our Future.  In addition, Staff Attorney Matthew L. Campbell hosted the TEDNA & First Alaskans Institute Education Forum.  And finally, NARF Director of Development Morgan O’Brien hosted the NARF booth in the NCAI Marketplace.  If you are in Anchorage, please stop by NARF’s booth at the Dena'ina Center to say hello and learn more about our work!


Friday, June 6, 2014

NARF Staff Attorney Don Wharton presents on NARF’s work with the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition at United South and Eastern Tribes meeting

Earlier this week, NARF Staff Attorney Don Wharton presented on behalf of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition to the Social Services Committee of the United South and Eastern Tribes at their 2014 semi-annual meeting in Bar Harbor, Maine.  The presentation concerned the history and purpose of the boarding school policy of the last two centuries and its continuing devastating impacts on Indian Country.  The mission of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition is to secure healing for the victims of the policy including surviving individuals of boarding school abuse, families, communities, and tribes throughout Indian Country.

To learn more about NARF’s work on this important issue, click here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk moderates panel at American Bar Association’s Water Law Conference

This week, NARF Executive Director John E. Echohawk is moderating a panel at the American Bar Association’s 32nd Annual Water Law Conference, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.  John is moderating the breakout session titled “State-Federal-Tribal Interaction in Settlements.” The session will provide an in-depth look at how the basics of settlements have evolved and will apply to emerging challenges, including settlements being considered earmarks, greater cost-shares being sought from states, federal funding concerns, and difficulties in passing stand-alone settlement legislation.

For more information on the conference, click here.

NARF files amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of NCAI and Huy in Holt v. Hobbs

Cover of amicus brief filed in Holt v. Hobbs
On May 29, NARF filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and Huy in Holt v. Hobbs, a case that will likely impact the claims of Native prisoners throughout the country.  The filing of this brief is part of an ongoing effort by NARF, NCAI, and Huy to secure religious liberties for Native prisoners.

Holt involves a Muslim prisoner in Arkansas seeking review of a prisoner grooming policy that prevents him from wearing a half-inch beard consistent with his religion.  Like Mr. Holt, many Native inmates are unduly restricted by prison grooming policies when seeking to wear long hair consistent with their traditional religion, and a group of Native inmates from Alabama recently sought the Court’s review in Knight v. Thompson, a case very similar to Holt.  Arkansas and Alabama are among a small minority of states still adhering to antiquated, restrictive policies that do not provide religious exceptions, even though the Federal Bureau of Prisons, at least 38 states, and the District of Columbia accommodate the Native religious practice of wearing long hair without incident. 

To read the brief, click here.  And, to learn more about NARF’s ongoing efforts with NCAI and Huy to work to secure religious liberties for Native prisoners, click here for a recent article in Indian Country Today.