2014 Conference Report
The Native American Law Section of the State Bar of Texas held its annual Texas Native American Law Conference on January 17, 2014. This year’s conference featured speakers on topics of interest related to Native American Law and award presentations of the Section's Lifetime Achievement Award to Shannon Speed and the Tom Diamond Award to Jo Ann Battise.
2013 Conference Report
The 2013 Conference was blessed with the attendance and participation of Bill Voelker and Troy, Co-Directors of SIA, the Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative. Bill and Troy brought with them a male golden eagle, Nuepi (which means “Tornado” in Comanche), and a female White Medicine Bird (a white red-tailed hawk), Wakiyah (which means "Carries Medicine Talk"). The conference included the presentation of theSection’s Tom Diamond Award of Excellence and the Lifetime Achievement Award. The presentation of awards was followed by an honoring ceremony featuring traditional Native American singing, drumming, and dancing. The award and honor ceremonies were, as always, open to the public and are especially moving and informative. The honoring ceremony was presented by the Eagle Point singers and dancers, headed by Robbie Bass.
The Tom Diamond Award of Excellence was presented to Ron Jackson, General Counsel, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (Tiguas), El Paso, Texas. Ron is the Tribal Attorney for the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. He is the first in-house attorney for the tribe, he has been a Texas attorney for more than 30 years, and for approximately 20 of those years, he has practiced Indian law and represented the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. Ron has written and lectured on tribal sovereignty, gaming, and other Indian law issues. He has been a speaker for the Section at our meetings since 2006, after attending his first Section meeting in Austin when the Section drafted him to assist. He is an expert on Indian law and particularly Indian law as it pertains to Texas. Ron has also been an archival resource in preserving tribal history, in connection with the tribal library and historical programs. This speaks to Ron’s expertise, background, and the esteem in which he is held. Ron is a good role model who has demonstrated by his words and deeds his respect for Indian law and culture. He has shown dedication to the Section goals of promoting education on Indian law and legal issues.
The Native American Law Section’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Jay Hurst, Assistant Attorney General, Austin, Texas. Jay is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and has been a Texas attorney for more than 30 years. He has worked with the Section and the prior Texas Indian Bar since 1995, the year he organized the first statewide conference. He has continued to organize and work on conferences for the Section in the years since. In addition to his work with the Section to promote education on Indian law issues, Jay has worked on many other projects to assist Native American students and to promote a better understanding of Indian culture. Jay has been an integral part of the Austin Independent School District’s American Indian Education Program, at times chairing this program and the Section. Jay has worked for many years with the Austin Powwow and Native American Heritage Festival; Great Promise; and the Native American Parents Committee. (The Austin Powwow is the largest one-day powwow in the US and is in its 22nd year). Jay is a board member and Vice-Chair of the Chickasaw Community Council of Central Texas. Jay is a good role model who demonstrates by words and actions his dedication to Section goals, particularly in the area of education. He continues to serve as a valuable resource on Indian culture, Indian law, and related issues for the Section and the community.
2010 Section Report
From Gaines F. West, II, Chair
The American Indian Law Section is preparing for its biennial Indian Law Conference in January 2011. Membership involvement in the section was the emphasis for 2010, along with reviewing developing issues on sovereignty and tribal justice.
Associate Justice of the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Troy Wayne Poteete presented issues involving tribal justice during the Annual Meeting in Fort Worth. Section Chair Gaines West presented a review of ethical issues, including a review of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and how they impact minority lawyers, as well as the representation of minority interests in Texas with special emphasis on Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct 5.08 and its implications for lawyers.
The American Indian Law Section continues to grow its membership by adding paralegal and non-lawyer members who have a special interest in American Indian law. During the year, the section was involved in community outreach by helping sponsor American Indian dancers and an American Indian drum group in middle schools and spoke at these events concerning American Indian law interests in our state.
2009 Section Report
From Jay Hurst, Chair
The American Indian Law Section held its annual conference on Jan. 30, 2009 at the Texas Law Center in Austin, drawing participation from all three of the federally recognized tribes in Texas as well as numerous attorneys and others interested in American Indian Law.
The section's Lifetime Achievement Award was presented during the conference to Gaines West, a member of the Cherokee Tribe, a practicing attorney in Texas, and a leader of the American Indian law Section of the State Bar for many, many years. The section's Tom Diamond Award of Excellence was presented to former Texas Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos (Austin) for his efforts on behalf of American Indians during the many years he served in the Legislature.
As one of the smallest sections in the Bar, the American Indian Law Section met all annual goals of increasing membership especially among young attorneys and increasing attendance and participation at conferences, with a focus on including tribal representatives.
2008 Section Report
From Ray T. Torgerson, Chair
The American Indian Law Section held its Annual Conference on Nov. 2, 2007, at the Texas Law Center in Austin, drawing the largest group of participants in several years.
The section's Lifetime Achievement Award was presented during the conference to Judge Arnold Battise, a mernber of the Alabarna-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, a retired administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration, Office of Hearings and Appeals. and a Navy veteran with more than 43 combined years of federal service.
The section's Diamond Award of Excellence was presented to State Rep. Norma Chavez (El Paso) for her legislative efforts on behalf of the Tigua Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
As one of the smallest sections in the State Bar, the American Indian Law Section met all annual goals of increasing membership, especially among young attorneys, and increasing attendance and participation at conferences, with a focus on including tribal representatives.
The section held its annual business meeting and officer elections on June 27, at the 2008 State Bar Annual Meeting. Two officers, Ruth Soucy and Ray Torgerson, were panel speakers at the June 26th Diversity Forum on topics affecting American Indian lawyers.