Natives still underrepresented on the federal bench

In 2011 this blog noted the absence of Native Americans on the federal bench then in 2013 President Barack Obama nominated Judge Diane Humetewa, Hopi, to the US District Court of Arizona and she was confirmed by the Senate in 2014. She remains the lone active American Indian on the federal bench today.
“Being female and Native American, people aren’t used to seeing us as lawyers, at least when I was practicing back in the 90s,” she said. Humetewa said Native American judges are needed in states that have Native populations like North Dakota, New Mexico and Arizona. “It gives the community the perception that people that they see on the district court reflect their community and some familiarity with the environment,” she said. “Sadly if you don’t have the right political affiliations, that is going to be a detriment to any Native American person if they are of the wrong political stripe,” she said. [Indian Country Today]
Mato Standing High practically lived at our house in Spearfish from 1983 until he and my stepson graduated high school in 1994. As both my step kids did he got his Bachelors of Science at the University of Wyoming. A Bush Fellow and a member of the Sicangu Oyate, he is an attorney having received his Juris Doctor at University of Montana Law School. He has also taught at Black Hills State University, a leader in American Indian Studies.
Underperforming South Dakota schools with majority American Indian student populations will be able to apply for $2 million in state grants to overhaul their curricula this summer. Standing High said the alternative model schools and another grant program that will offer state-subsidized scholarships for paraprofessionals working in majority American Indian schools could help boost South Dakota's American Indian retention rates. The Indian Education Advisory Council has visited schools in New Mexico and Colorado that focus more on Native culture and yield higher graduation rates for American Indian students. “We’re barely scratching this surface with these two programs, but if we’re successful, legislators are already asking what’s next," Standing High said. "So we’re planting the seeds.” [Dana Ferguson, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Standing High is a human rights activist who participates in the Lakota Omniciye Wacipi. No doubt he has heard me expounding on the importance of preserving indigenous languages as i have been ranting about it for over twenty five years. My young nephews called him "My Toad." Mato is Lakota for bear.

A graduate of Lyman (South Dakota) High School now a New Mexico attorney has been hearing cases on the tribal bench. She says she "kindly and humbly" takes the time to learn each name and doesn’t "always get it right, but I have received more thanks for that than any other work."

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