Friday, December 30, 2011

Buffy Saint Marie Has Kind Words for NARF

In a recent interview, Buffy Sainte-Marie had some kind words for NARF and the importance of our work asserting and defending the rights of tribes. Thanks, Buffy! To read the interview, click HERE.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Make Your Year-End Gift Today to Support the Native American Rights Fund

For the last 40 years, NARF has provided legal assistance to Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide who may have otherwise gone without adequate representation. Yet as the need for our services increases, our financial resources are being seriously drained. It's not too late to support our work. Your donation will be 100% tax-deductible and will create a lasting impact throughout Indian Country. As always, thank you for your continued support and best wishes for a New Year filled with peace, happiness and hope!

Click HERE for more information.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Staff in NARF's Boulder Office Celebrate the Holidays by Giving to Others

Staff in NARF's Boulder office recently raised several hundred dollars to purchase medicine, toiletries, and food for the Boulder Homeless Shelter. Though times are lean for everyone, NARF is dedicated to supporting our community and other non-profits, especially during the holidays and these long winter months. Cheers to our supporters and our community partners!

NARF wins case that upholds Alaska tribal government sovereignty

On Friday, December 9, the Alaska Supreme Court agreed with NARF attorney Heather Kendall-Miller’s legal arguments and upheld Alaska tribal government sovereignty against a failed challenge that Alaska Tribes do not possess sovereign immunity from suit.  In the case, McCrary v. Ivanof Bay Village, Appellant McCrary challenged the federal recognition of Ivanof Bay Village and the corollary right of the tribe to claim sovereign immunity from suit in the context of a contractual dispute.  Appellant was represented by Don Mitchell, an Alaska attorney who has spent much of his career arguing that Congress has not approved Interior’s authority to acknowledge preexisting tribal status.  However, tribal government legal status has now been clearly upheld by the Alaska Supreme Court in two successive decisions and McCrary has no other recourse in the state court system

For a copy of the opinion, click here.

For a radio story discussing the Alaska Supreme Court’s opinion, click here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tribal Constitution Handbook Now Available

Tribal Constitution Handbook: A Guide to Writing and Revising Tribal Constitutions]
A tribe's fundamental act of self-governance is the writing or revising of its tribal constitution. A well-crafted constitution is the cornerstone of sound tribal governance. This Handbook is intended to help a tribe protect and foster its tribal sovereignty and self-governance, and to protect tribal members in the exercise of that self-governance.

This book, written by former NARF attorney Mark Tilden is now available for purchase on the NARF website.  Click HERE for more information.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thank You 2011 NARF Summer Law Clerks

Each summer NARF hosts the summer clerkship program, a ten to twelve week program for second year law students. Law clerk projects consist mainly of legal research and writing. The 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 past year the law clerk program was supported by the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians through the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, University of Denver-Sturm College of Law and the Ungar Foundation/Smith, Shelton, and Ragona LLC.

Meet the clerks who worked with us last summer: Jacqueline Jampolsky (Cherokee), Lauren Frinkman (Cochiti Pueblo), Claire Newman, Ryan Ward (Cowlitz Tribe) and Elizabeth Hutchinson.

Jacqueline Jampolsky (Cherokee)
JJ is working towards (2013) a joint JD/PhD degree at CU Law (American Indian Law Certificate and Environmental Law and Policy). She obtained her BS, majoring in Conservation and Resource Studies and minoring in Global Poverty and Practice, from the University of California-Berkeley.

Lauren Frinkman (Cochiti Pueblo)
Lauren is a third year student at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law where she is President of their NALSA chapter and a Board Member of the National Lawyers Guild. She obtained her B.A., majoring in Religion and minoring in German, from Colorado College. Lauren has been a Law Clerk with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and a Public Interest Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.

Claire Newman
Claire is a third year student at the University of Washington School of Law where she is President of their NALSA group, an Environmental Law Program Student Representative and the Pro Bono Project Director. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Carleton College. Claire has been a legal fellow for the Washington Environmental Council and in the Office of Senator Maria Cantwell. From 2007-2009 she was Assistant Director for the Lakota People’s Law Project. Claire has also been a middle school teacher at the Red Cloud Indian School on Pine Ridge.

DC Office
Ryan Ward (Cowlitz Tribe)
Ryan is a third year student at the University of Washington School of Law where he is Vice-President of NALSA chapter and a member of the Trustees for Alaska Pro Bono Project. He received his B.A. in History (Emphasis in Federal Indian Policy) from Willamette University. He has been a Judicial Intern for the Honorable W. Michael Gillette of the Supreme Court of Oregon and a high school tutor for students at the Chemawa Indian School.

Anchorage Office
Elizabeth Hutchinson
Elizabeth is a second year student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she is a Representative of the Natural Resources and Environmental Law Society. She received her B.A. from the University of California at Davis where she majored in International Relations and minored in Comparative Literature. Elizabeth participated in 2011 Alternative Spring Break – DNA Legal Services. She worked in the Alaska office as part of Seattle University’s Study Law in Alaska Program.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Obama Signs Executive Order on American Indian and Alaska Native education

At last Friday’s White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama announced he had signed an executive order establishing a White House initiative on American Indian and Alaska native education. NARF Staff Attorney Amy Bowers works on Native education efforts and is excited about the Administration’s support for tribal colleges and universities, and tribal education agencies expressed in the Executive Order. This executive order is a first step in the direction achieving tribal sovereignty in Native education, and NARF commends President Obama for his commitment to the issue.
For more information about this, click HERE.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Leverage Your Donation!

Celebrate Colorado Gives Day
with NARF and Tocabe

Join the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) at Tocabe, an American Indian Eatery, Tuesday, December 6th for great food, fun and prizes. On Colorado Gives Day, all donations to NARF will be matched through the Community First Foundation. For one day only, you can increase the impact of your gift!

The fun will run all day, 11 AM – 9 PM. Get together, enjoy specials from the delicious Tocabe menu, connect with old friends and meet new—all while supporting justice for Native Americans.
If you cannot join us at Tocabe, you can still leverage your donation! Just go to the Colorado Gives Day website on December 6th. 100% of your donation goes directly to NARF when you give through So, please give online any time on December 6, 2011. The value of your donation will be increased by the FirstBank Incentive Fund.

For more information, call the Native American Rights Fund at (303)447-8760, or visit the Colorado Gives web site at

The Native American Rights Fund has been headquartered in Colorado for 40 years. NARF helps tribes and Native people nation wide in areas of tribal sovereignty, treaty enforcement, education and protection of natural resources, cultural practices and sacred sites.
Tocabe, the only American Indian Eatery on the Front Range, is operated by Ben Jacobs and Matt Chandra. They are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Tocabe is located at 3536 W 44th Ave., Denver CO, 80211 - (720)-524-8282.

The Community First Foundation started Colorado Gives Day in 2010. The Foundation helps donors support charitable causes through planned giving and Donor Advised Funds, and offer grants, fund management and education to nonprofits. They have been serving the community since 1975.

NARF Joins With Environmental Leaders to Call on Administration to Fix Pacific Salmon Crisis

NARF has joined with leaders of six of the nation's leading environmental and conservation groups to call on Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Council for Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley for their assistance in solving the decades-long controversy surrounding restoration of wild salmon and steelhead to the Columbia/Snake River Basin. In this letter, NARF and American Rivers, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club have asked the Secretary and the Chairwoman to meet with them to discuss how to bring stake-holders together to find a solution that protects these remarkable fish and the Pacific Northwest jobs, economy, and cultural and religious values they support.

"It's time to try something new," said Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President. "We've been litigating and winning in the federal courts for more than a decade. The Court's most recent decision provides a unique opportunity to develop a process and a solution that can go beyond the courthouse and bring all stakeholders together to find a long-lasting solution. The time is now and we are urging this administration to see that reality and act on it. We can continue to argue this in court, and I believe we will continue to win those arguments, but if we step back and take a different approach - an approach tried in numerous other situations around this country - and bring the affected parties together, we could chart a new course that works for the whole region. Why this administration has so far been afraid to take the step of sitting down and talking with people is beyond me. We hope a meeting with Secretary Bryson and Chairwoman Sutley will get to the bottom of this problem and let us all get going on a solution. "

This letter comes on the heels of a request from more than 1200 businesses across the country asking President Obama for the same stakeholder process and a bi-partisan letter from the House of Representatives, signed by more than 50 members of Congress, asking for the same.

To read the letter, click HERE.