NABA-AZ awards law professionals and law students at annual dinner
September 15, 2017
Roberto A. Jackson
Gila River Indian News
For an organization of Native American law professionals that have been through the rigors of law school, helping current law students achieve their academic goals is their way of giving back. Attorneys are expected to be fluent in a high volume of multifaceted issues while finding answers to complex problems and situations. Working under pressure, in a very demanding field, requires resolve and determination. The stress often begins not during the practice of law but the study of it.
That is why at the 9th Annual Seven Generations Awards Dinner & Silent Auction the Native American Bar Association of Arizona (NABA-AZ) not only honored current law professionals, but awarded scholarships to 11 law students who will soon be joining their ranks.
The dinner, held at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino on Sept. 9, brought together Native American attorneys, and those working for tribes in Arizona, for a night of honoring outstanding individuals and organizations, and fundraising.
NABA-AZ was founded in 2007 and according to www.naba-az.com is “a nonprofit organization created to advance and improve the practice of Indian law and promote the professional development of its members.
NABA-AZ members include Native American and non-Native American attorneys, law students, advocates and other legal professionals.”
Jeffery Harmon, NABA-AZ President, started off the awards presentations by recognizing Kathlene Rosier as “Member of the Year.” “One of the main reasons I’m standing here today is because of Kate [Rosier],” Harmon said.
The “Community Service Leadership Award” went to the Casey Family Programs, Indian Child Welfare Program, and the “Lifetime Achievement Award” was accepted by Robert N. Clinton on behalf of Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.
The evening also included auctions, which raised funds for the Seven Generations Scholarships, and a special recognition of the founding NABA-AZ Board Members in honor of the organization’s 10th anniversary. “We just want to honor them and thank them for their leadership and for their commitment to the practice of law here in the state of Arizona and the greater Native American community,” said Diandra Benally, NABA-AZ boardmember. The honorees were Rodney Lewis, Linda Benally, Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Denten Robinson. Marnie Hodahkwen and Kerry Patterson were unable to attend.
The evening shifted from the work of past and current leaders to the encouragement of current students studying law. NABA-AZ named 11 law students to receive their scholarship including Pete Sabori, District 6, who is attending the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. Sabori, who will be graduating in May of 2018, was honored to be a recipient and said, “I consider everyday in law school a gift.”
Sabori has worked for the Colorado River Indian Tribes and Pascua Yaqui Tribe and was encouraged by the support from NABA-AZ. “You have days where you doubt whether or not you can do it, and coming to an event like this is good for reinforcement,” Sabori said.
A scholarship committee selected the recipients based on the applications each student submitted. The scholarships are for $1,000 each.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis was among the final speakers and he thanked the law professionals for representing tribes on important issues while encouraging the next generation of attorneys. “When you graduate, you’re an asset to building the Indian legal community,” Gov. Lewis said.
According to NABA-AZ, since 2008 they’ve awarded over $65,000 in scholarships. In addition to Sabori the recipients were Sarah Crawford, Meredith Duarte, Brian Garcia, Alexander Mallory, James Mowdy, Dylan Raintree, Rani Williams, Candace Begody, Daune Cardenas, and Francisco Olea.