Native American Law Conference welcomes home original founders of section

Friday was a special homecoming celebration at the annual Native American Law Conference as members welcomed back leaders who founded the Native American Law Section of the State Bar of Texas almost 21 years ago. The conference took place at the Texas Law Center in Austin on Jan. 30.

 

Above, from top: Original founders and leaders of the Native American Law Section of the State Bar. The Chickasaw Nation Stomp Dance Troupe performs a traditional dance during the section's honoring ceremony. Photographs courtesy of Jim Sipowicz, Shell Media Inc., Canopy Studios.

Lawyers from several tribes, including the Chickasaw, Comanche, Alabama-Coushatta, and more, came to discuss important national matters, such as Native American spirituality and the law, the planned Keystone Pipeline’s possible disturbance of sacred sites, legal cases involving issues like untaxed gasoline, and the Indian Child Welfare Act. State Bar Immediate Past-President Lisa M. Tatum, who has Chickasaw and Cherokee heritage, presented on various bar programs. After playing an animated video of the Native American Code Talkers explaining their importance during World War II, a clip from her I was the first. Vote for Me! project, Tatum reflected on her years of presidential service, which will come to an end this June.

Before lunch, section members and State Bar employees filled the Texas Law Center lobby for the section’s honoring ceremony, which included traditional dancing, singing, and drumming by the Chickasaw Nation Stomp Dance Troupe followed by the Eagle Point Singers. Attendees were also delighted to spend time with Bill Voelker and Troy, co-directors of Sia, the Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative, who brought two spiritual birds with them, a golden eagle and a White Medicine Bird (a rare white red-tailed hawk revered by the Comanche and other tribes).

For more information on the Native American Law Section of the State Bar, go to texasindianbar.com.


Above, from top: Troy of SIA, the Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative, and male golden eagle Nuepi (which means “Tornado” in Comanche). A member of the Eagle Point Singers performs a traditional fancy shawl dance during the section's honoring ceremony. Photographs courtesy of Jim Sipowicz, Shell Media Inc., Canopy Studios.

 

Native American Law Section Holds CLE Conference

On Jan. 17, the Native American Law Section of the State Bar of Texas held its annual CLE conference at the Texas Law Center in Austin. A highlight of this annual event, treasurer and section council member Jay Hurst presented State Bar President Lisa M. Tatum with a Martial Eagle feather as a sign of honor. Tatum, who has some Chickasaw and Cherokee heritage, said she was surprised and truly honored to receive the special gift. (The feather was from a non-native eagle species and had been certified as not falling under the jurisdiction of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or Bald Eagle Act.)

Tatum then led a CLE session on her presidential initiatives, such as the educational program I was the first! Vote for me and the Care Kit, which provides resources for attorneys hosting pro bono clinics. Another highlight of the conference was the session on sovereignty led by Gregory A. Smith, partner in Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker in Washington, D.C., as well as a ceremony of traditional Native American singing, drumming, and dancing by the Eagle Point Singers. One song honored Tatum and two award winners, Shannon Speed, who received the section’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and Jo Ann Battise, who received the Tom Diamond Award of Excellence. 

A variety of additional CLE sessions were offered, including “Adoption of Native American Children,” “An Overview of Important Federal Indian Law Cases in 2013 and a Look Toward 2014,” “Legal Issues Specific to Native American and Indigenous Women,” and “Gaming.”