Gabe Galanda Named Among America's Best Lawyers for 14th Straight Year

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Gabe Galanda has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in the areas of Gaming Law and Native American Law, marking the 14th straight year he has received such accolade.  He has now been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® every year since 2007.

Gabe’s practice focuses on complex, multi-party litigation, business controversy, and crisis management, representing tribal governments, businesses and members.

He is skilled at defending tribes and tribal enterprises from legal attacks by local, state and federal government, and representing plaintiffs and defendants in catastrophic injury lawsuits.

Gabe handles Indian civil rights controversies for tribal members, particularly those involving Indian citizenship rights, as well.  He also frequently represents tribal families in federal civil rights litigation against police officers and jailers for the wrongful death of Natives and inmates.

The Best Lawyers in America® is regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States. Gabe’s selection was based on a peer-review survey, which all told comprises more than 4.9 million confidential evaluations by top attorneys throughout the country.

Gabriel S. Galanda is the managing lawyer of Galanda Broadman, PLLC, in Seattle. Gabe is a descendant of the Nomlaki and Concow Tribes, belonging to the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Northern California.

Industrial Hemp Economies Ahead for Indian Country

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By Corin La Pointe-Aitchison

The USDA will release regulations in August allowing for states and Indian tribes to manage their own industrial hemp programs.  With the rise in popularity and demand for CBD, a compound derived from hemp, many see industrial hemp as a new cash cow.  Some tribal communities have been waiting years for this day. 

With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp, meaning cannabis with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, was decriminalized.  

THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis which produces a “high” in those who ingest it.  Hemp, while too low in THC to produce a high, can still be processed for its cannabidiol (“CBD”).  CBD has erupted as a new cure for a variety of ailments, and its demand has made hemp the hottest new agricultural commodity.

The 2018 Farm Bill allows for states or Indian tribes to have primary regulatory authority over hemp production within their territory.  To do this, the 2018 Farm Bill requires tribes or states to submit a formal plan to the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”).  At that point, the USDA has 60 days to approve or deny the plan.  Most thought this 60-day period started at the passage of the bill. 

The Flandreau Sioux, who have been trying to grow cannabis on their reservation for years, submitted their plan to the USDA immediately after the 2018 Farm Bill was passed.  After 60 days, the tribe sued the government and asked the court for an injunction against the government, forbidding them to interfere with the tribe’s hemp production. 

Flandreau argued that the passage of the Farm Bill mandated acceptance or rejection of the tribe’s hemp rules with the 60-day limit.  The Court disagreed, accepting the USDA’s argument that the triggering event was the issuance of USDA regulations, not the passage of the Bill.  As such, all plans submitted and yet to be submitted will not be considered until after the USDA issues their regulations in August.

Even after the USDA releases its regulations on hemp production, some complications remain.  The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) through the Federal Food, Drug,  and Cosmetic Act (“FD&C Act”) retains authority over the addition of CBD to food or supplements. The FDA maintains that it is “unlawful under the FD&C Act to introduce food containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived.”

All current CBD food or supplements have been made under the existing structure of the 2014 Farm Bill which allowed states to run pilot hemp programs. Because the addition to food and drugs remains subject to FDA authority, interested parties are urging the FDA, too, to release regulations.  Without further regulations by the FDA, a large part of the hemp market will be off limits to interstate sales.

While the 2018 Farm Bill was undeniably a win for tribes, there are lots of questions yet to be answered. The 2020 hemp grow season will likely inform and shape the way the industry moves in the decade to come.  Still, more guidance is needed from the government authorities responsible for regulation.   If a tribe is interested in growing, selling, or processing hemp, they should be aware of the legal complexities and uncertainties involved.

Corin La Pointe-Aitchison, Koyukon Athabaskan, is an Associate in the Seattle office.  His practice focuses on litigation involving tribal governments and enterprises, governmental counsel, and Indian civil rights. 

Ann Sattler: The Republican Next Door in District 5

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On Monday, the conservative Seattle Times Editorial Board endorsed Ann Sattler over incumbent Debora Juarez for the Seattle City Council District 5 seat.

That’s not surprising given that Sattler is a Republican—a closet conservative.

District 5 voters should be concerned that Sattler hides her GOP bonafides. Knowing Northeast Seattle will not take kindly to a Republican candidate, she deliberately conceals her conservative credentials.

Of even more concern are Sattler’s far-right political positions and dubious campaign ad practices.

Sattler (whose maiden name is Davison) hides the fact that she worked for Arkansas Republican Congressman John Hammerschmidt in the 1990s. Hammerschmidt is most renown for being one of the very few Republicans in Congress who stood by President Richard Nixon after Watergate.

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Sattler’s LinkedIn profile mentions her stint with Hammerschmidt, but omits his name. What person who has the privilege of working in Washington, DC for a Congressperson omits the Member’s name on her resume?

A candidate who is hiding her political affiliation, that’s who.

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Sattler does disclose her Republican service in Washington on her resume on file with the Washington State Bar Association, but it is private, and only accessible by those with access to the state bar’s intranet.

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Eliminating any doubt she’s a card-carrying GOP member, on the campaign trail this summer Sattler has:

Sattler also opposes same-sex marriage, and has guest-posted on Safe Seattle’s Facebook page. All of this explains why Safe Seattle has staunchly supported Sattler since she kicked off her campaign in early 2019.

July 18 Update: Sattler’s campaign manager is Veronica Garcia, who has also worked for GOP stalwarts Bill Bryant, Jinyoung England (former longtime aide to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers), and State Senator Steve O’Ban, as well as the State Senate Republican Committee.

Meanwhile Sattler’s Los Angeles-based political consulting firm, Catamaran Consulting, works with a Republican Super PAC to support U.S. Senator and outspoken Trump ally, Josh Hawley of Missouri; and her Mercer Island-based digital communications firm, Sermo, has worked with Republicans Joe Fain and Rep. McMorris Rodgers, and the King County Republicans. Birds of a feather.

Also, in line with Trump’s GOP, Sattler has ignored local Facebook political ad bans, particularly by endlessly promoting a misleading piece of spliced video involving her opponent, which went viral thanks to a local Fox News affiliate. This alone give voters significant pause, especially because as a purportedly practicing lawyer, Sattler should be held to a higher standard under state ethics rules.

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July 20 Update: Late Friday night Sattler issued a statement in response to this blog, via yet another Facebook political ad, claiming she’s a “moderate Democrat” and a “life long dem” who caucused for Hillary Clinton in 2016. She did caucus for Clinton in Northeast Seattle three years ago, but a “life long dem” she is not.

There is no way a Republican Congressman from the South and Nixon apologist allowed a Democrat to work for his DC office. Also, before this primary, Sattler has never voted in any King County primary election or municipal general election. She is no a “life long” member of the Democratic Party.

The bottom line: Ann Sattler appears unfit to represent Northeast Seattle. District 5 voters shouldn’t be duped by the Republican next door.

Gabriel S. Galanda is a civil rights lawyer with offices in Wedgwood. He lives and works in District 5.










NFL Super Bowl Champion Michael Bennett Hosts Free Sports Camp for Tribal Boys & Girls at Tulalip Sunday

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Super Bowl Champion Michael Bennett will continue his outreach to Indigenous youth with a sports camp at the Tulalip Tribes Sports Complex on Sunday, June 23, 2019.

For the third summer in a row, Michael will take time out of his busy life to show Indigenous children that they matter, and to encourage them to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

“I believe that Native kids matter,” said Michael.  “We must amplify the voices of Native children because they are the original Americans.”

Indigenous youth are the most vulnerable youth group in the United States.  Over 25% Indian children live in poverty and 30% are obese. Native youth graduate from high school at a rate 17% lower than the national average. Native youth suffer the highest juvenile suicide rate, at more than double rate for the Caucasian youth suicide. Native youth experience PTSD at a rate of22%—triple that of the general population.

"We all have a duty to join forces against the oppression of any people," Michael continued.

Doing and giving what he can to improve life for Indigenous youth, Michael and the Bennett Foundation conducted a sports camp on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation in South Dakota, in 2017.  Last year, Michael hosted Lummi and Nooksack 306 youth at a closed Seattle Seahawks practice at the team’s headquarters, as well as Native girls from various Pacific Northwest tribal communities at his Girls Empowerment Summit event at Garfield High School in Seattle. 

This Sunday at Tulalip, over 500 Indigenous boys and girls are expected to attend.  Michael will run sports drills and exercise with the youth and impart to them the need to eat nutritious foods, make healthy lifestyle decisions, and respect one’s self—because each of their lives are valued. 

Michael’s Foundation, headquartered in Hawaii, has partnered with the Tulalip Tribes, the Snohomish County-Tulalip Unit of the Boys & Girls Club, Jaci McCormack’s Rise Above non-profit, and Indigenous rights law firm Galanda Broadman, PLLC, to hold the sports camp. 

The sports camp will run from 1 to 3 PM; registration begins at noon.  Registration for youth, ages 7 to 18, is free and still open at this link.

Interior’s Indian Depopulation Idea

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Late last year the U.S. Department of the Interior began to consider whether Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agencies should cease issuing Certificates of Indian Blood (CDIBs).  Interior’s idea, if realized, would depopulate and weaken Indian Country. 

Indian lawyer Bree Black Horse describes the “federal Indian”: an Indian who is no longer or has never been enrolled by a federally recognized tribe, yet who still qualifies as “Indian” under various federal laws.  Any elimination of BIA CDIBs would threaten federal Indian relatives’ existence, as well as the cultural, legal, and financial strength of tribal governments and urban Indian organizations.

In September 2018, Interior’s BIA Director Daryl LaCounte in Washington, D.C., issued an inter-department memo to BIA Regional Directors throughout the country, explaining that his office was “considering whether to end the practice of [the] BIA specifically issuing CDIBs.”  In turn, the Regional Directors issued “Dear Tribal Leader” letters to the tribes in their region, “surveying” tribal concerns about the proposal.  In a November 20, 2018, email to me, Director LaCounte suggested that “[t]here is no proposal to cease issuing CDIB’s.” But the fact remains that the Trump Administration has floated idea of ending the BIA’s practice of CDIB issuance. 

According to FOIA records I obtained from Interior, Tribes as well as Alaska Native Villages and Corporations unanimously responded to BIA Regional Directors expressing concern about or opposition to the Central Office’s idea.  

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, for instance, explained that CDIBs allow “non-enrolled Indians” to qualify for federal programs and services, including educational loans and farming and ranching assistance.  Those federal Indians also qualify for health care through the Indian Health Service (IHS) and they are included in that agency’s self-governance funding calculations for tribal clinics and urban Indian health care organizations.  Without CDIBs, those relatives could be excluded from IHS health care and the calculus that results in critical federal medical funding for tribal and Alaska Native governments and communities.

The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes pointedly asked the BIA Eastern Oklahoma Region: “How will the BIA continue to provide services to Indians who are not citizens of a Tribe?”  The BIA responded: “A policy determination has not been made as to whether or not the BIA has an obligation to provide CDIB services to non-tribal Indians.”  The BIA is wrong.  

Interior’s course of conduct in issuing CDIBs to “non-tribal Indians,” for at least the last four decades according to Paul Spruhan, has established an enforceable policy determination—one that obligates the BIA to provide CDIB and related social services to those federal Indians, as well as tribal governments who afford those relatives services. Wilkinson v. Legal Servs. Corp., 27 F.Supp.2d 32, 60 (D.D.C. 1998). 

Standing Rock further explained to the BIA how CDIBs are “critical to the exercise of federal criminal jurisdiction under the Major Crimes Act” over certain non-enrolled Indians, without which “the Department of Justice ability to prosecute crimes in Indian Country would be severely hampered.”  In other words, fewer Indians would be considered “Indian” for purpose of federal criminal prosecution; as non-Indians, legally speaking, they could exacerbate the public safety crisis in Indian Country caused by Oliphant.  The Tribe decried any change in BIA policy as an “abdication of the responsibility to issue CDIBs” as part of the United States’ various trust responsibilities to tribes and Indians. 

The most common criticism of Interior’s CDIB survey was that it lacked any prior tribal consultation.  The Asa’carsamiut Tribal Council of Alaska, for example, expressed that it “feels strongly conducting a Tribal Consultation, instead of a survey, is the appropriate way for the BIA to address this issue.”  The Muskogee (Creek) Nation flat refused to answer the BIA’s survey, instead demanding “proper and appropriate Tribal Consultation.”

In response to a question from the Five Civilized Tribes about whether the BIA would consult with Tribes, the BIA demurred, explaining that its “Central Office has not made a final determination as to whether or not consultation is necessary.”  Consultation would in fact be necessary as a matter of Interior’s own consultation policy, or tribes could also sue Interior and BIA officials under the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to enjoin and set aside any policy change.

Tribes and Alaska Native Villages and Corporations brought moral issues of indigenous belonging to Interior’s attention, too.  The Association of Village Council Presidents of Alaska cited the need for “preservation of our tribal members” and otherwise observed that the BIA’s “CDIB card program is an important way to provide evidence of Alaska Native/American Indian descent.”

Even BIA Pacific Regional Director Amy Dutschke agreed: “the BIA should continue to issue CDIBs,” explaining that they are “beneficial to many individual California Indians, whether they are members of a Federally Recognized Tribe or not.” Alluding to the need for Indian inclusion in the Golden State—where generations of Indians have been killed, exiled, terminated, and disenrolled— Director Dutschke urged “the widest positive impact on the Indian people of California” through CDIBs.

In all, Interior’s proposal or idea to end BIA CDIB issuance would depopulate Indian Country and erode our collective strength in numbers.  Tribes and Alaska Native Villages and Corporations would be weakened in the process.

To be clear: blood quantum is systematically destroying us.  It is a European racial fiction and colonial device that the United States introduced to us—and we in turn blindly adopted as our own norm—since the federal allotment and assimilation era over a century ago.  Blood quantum will lead to our eradication, if not at our own doing, by federal politicians or judges who see tribes as unconstitutional racial groups.  See Brackeen v. Zinke, 338 F. Supp. 3d 514 (N.D. Tex. 2018).

We must unravel the various fibers of blood quantum, including CDIBs, which are now deeply woven into the fabric of tribal sovereignty and belonging, and the federal Indian trust responsibility owed to all Indians—whether enrolled, non-enrolled, reservation, or urban.  That will take time, if not generations.  But that unraveling should not occur through an idea stitched by the Trump Administration to a boilerplate “Dear Tribal Leader” letter and survey.  Instead, that unraveling must start with us, especially the Tribes and Indians who wear that fabric today.

Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is the managing lawyer at Galanda Broadman. He belongs to the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or gabe@galandabroadman.com.

Gabe Galanda Named Among ‘Native Business Top 50 Entrepreneurs’

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Native Business Magazine has named Gabe Galanda among Native Business Top 50 Entrepreneurs,” a cohort of “Native business founders and leaders who are demonstrating ingenuity, professionalism and self-determination.”

In the Accounting & Legal sector, the magazine underlined “the positive influence on Indian Country of…Gabriel Galanda, a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of California, who started the law firm Galanda Broadman, PLLC.”

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Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is the managing lawyer at Galanda Broadman. He belongs to the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or gabe@galandabroadman.com.

Galanda Broadman and Gabe Galanda Ranked Among Nation's Best in Native American Law

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Galanda Broadman has been named one of the nation's premier law firms in Native American Law for 2019 by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business. 

Gabe Galanda has also been named among he best lawyers in Native American Law nationally.

Chambers USA rankings are compiled from confidential, in-depth interviews with clients and attorneys from across the country. The assessments are based on technical legal ability, client service, diligence and other qualities most valued by clients.

Galanda Broadman, PLLC, is an American Indian-owned law firm with offices in Seattle and Yakima, Washington and Bend, Oregon. The firm is dedicated to advancing tribal Treaty and other sovereign legal rights, and Native American civil rights.

Washington State Corrections Religious Laws: "Changing the Language, Changing the Culture"

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“Language is culture and culture is behavior. If you change the language you change the behavior.” 

These are teachings from late Blackfeet language preservation advocate Darrell Kipp, which Blackfeet Seattle City Councilwoman Debora Juarez now passes on

The State of Washington just made a change to its language—regarding a single word in state statute—that will reform institutional culture and behavior throughout our state corrections system.

On April 23, 2019, Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 1485—a bill sponsored by Alaska Native Representative Debra Lekanoff—into Washington State law.  The bill amends a handful of statutes by replacing the Christian word “chaplain” with “religious coordinator,” as applicable to the state’s Departments of Corrections (DOC); Social and Health Services (DSHS); and Children, Youth and Family Services (DCYFS).

Gabe Galanda and Washington State Representative Debra Lekanoff (Tlingit/Aleut), HB 1485’s prime sponsor

Gabe Galanda and Washington State Representative Debra Lekanoff (Tlingit/Aleut), HB 1485’s prime sponsor

Oxford defines “chaplain” as “a priest or other Christian minister who is responsible for the religious needs of people in a prison, hospital, or in the armed forces.”  But for inmates of Jewish, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or Muslim, or Indigenous faith, chaplaincy is not a religious norm that fits neatly or at all with their faith practices.

“Religious coordinator,” on the other hand, is a term that accommodates all faith groups, as illustrated by the now amended RCW 72.01.210:

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Although this language change might be cynically viewed as simply more political correctness, it is not—it is reformational.

The language change will help diversify state agencies like the DOC, which, as of early 2019, employed 14 chaplains statewide—none were ethnic minority and only one was female.  As a Jewish faith leader testified before the State Legislature, members of the Jewish faith do not honor chaplaincy as a faith institution, and could not bring themselves to even apply for a state chaplain position. 

Non-Western faith practitioners might now think of becoming a state religious coordinator and helping our incarcerated state and tribal citizens seek and obtain spiritual rehabilitation.

More importantly, the language will, in practice, put non-Western faith practices—like Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Indigenous spirituality—on an equal footing with Christianity. 

Until now there have been too any occasions when traditional Indigenous spiritual ways have been subjugated to Christian faith practices; when our ways have been consciously or subconsciously viewed and treated by state officers as different, foreign, or even worse. 

Recall, for example, in 2010, when a Christian DOC “religious programs manager outlawed tribal sacred medicines, including tobacco, sage, sweetgrass and lavender…barred fry bread and salmon, preventing the prisoners from traditionally breaking four-day fasts during Change of Seasons rituals…scaled back Sunday sweat-lodge ceremonies [and] altered what an inmate could store in his sacred items shoebox, causing feather fans and beadwork to be disrespected by corrections officers” (Seattle Times).

By deemphasizing Christianity in three state agencies—including DSHS and DCYFS, which supervise our youth in custody—all other faith practices will elevate to equal status.  This shift will empower inmates of non-Western faith; they will no longer feel spiritually “lesser than.” 

In particular, Indigenous inmates will be more empowered to seek out opportunities to smudge, sweat, sing, drum, and participate in other spiritually rehabilitative traditional practices.

More broadly, by doing away with the word “chaplain,” Indigenous peoples both in and out of state Iron Houses will help reverse the effects of what Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s calls “spiritual subjugation,” which has occurred in great part through “the conscious elevation of the language of the coloniser.” (Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature (1986)).

Although the term “religious coordinator” does not derive from our language either, we can and will consciously elevate Indigenous spiritual ways by affixing our own cultural power to the new term.

Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is the managing lawyer at Galanda Broadman. He belongs to the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or gabe@galandabroadman.com.

Native Voting Rights Discrimination: “States, Be Careful What You Wish For”

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By Corin La Pointe-Aitchison

Last week, a United States House Elections subcommittee met on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation to discuss a new North Dakota state voter ID law that disenfranchises Native American voters.  That voter ID law requires a residential street address on all forms of acceptable voter identification, even though most Native Americans living on reservations in North Dakota use only P.O. Box addresses. The result: many Native voters in North Dakota will be turned away at the polls.   Last year, residents challenged the law in federal district court and won an injunction against state election officials from enforcing the new law.   But just before the midterm elections, the Eighth Circuit granted a stay of the injunction, allowing the new law to be enforced.  The United States Supreme Court then refused to vacate the stay. 

The voter ID law resulted from Democratic North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s election in 2012.  Commentators argued Heitkamp’s victory was, in large part, thanks to Native American voters.  Reports claim that Republicans in the North Dakota legislature were debating changing voter ID laws within months of Heitkamp’s election in an obvious ploy to disenfranchise those responsible for electing her: Native voters. 

While an attack on anyone’s right to vote is cause for concern, an attack on Native voters is most upsetting due to the relative recency with which Native Americans were allowed to vote.  It was not until 1924 when Native Americans were officially, at least by Congress, granted rights of citizenship, including the right to vote.  As that federal legislation still allowed states to determine voting eligibility, states across the country allowed legislation that discriminated against Native voters until as recent as 1962.

The U.S. Supreme Court once declared “[n]o right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which…we must live.” Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17-18 (1964). Over the past few decades, the Court has allowed more and more voter disenfranchisement by states, even famously repealing a highly protective section of the Voting Rights Act, in 2013.  Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013).  This trend, which includes upholding state voter ID laws, made the Court’s refusal to stay North Dakota’s voter ID law last fall, unsurprising.  See Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).

Also unsurprising, is the resilience and strong reaction of Native communities to voter disenfranchisement.  North Dakota’s attempt to suppress the Native vote backfired in a spectacular way: 2018’s midterm election saw a record turnout of Native voters.  Community activists and groups like Four Directions canvassed, rallied and went door to door to ensure voters would be able to participate in the election.

While states like North Dakota continue their racist ways, record numbers of Native Americans are running for office, including the first two Native American women ever in Congress.  Here in Washington State, John McCoy, the only Native American in the state Senate sponsored The Native American Voting Rights Act, which Governor Jay Inslee signed into law on March 14, 2019.  The Act—the exact antithesis of the North Dakota law—allows for unmarked homes and untraditional residential addresses, the kinds commonly found on Indian Reservations, to be used for voter identification. 

And even in North Dakota, there is hope.  While its discriminatory voter ID law is still in effect, last November’s election caused Ruth Buffalo to become the first Native American Democratic woman elected to the North Dakota Legislature.  Better yet, Buffalo defeated Randy Boehning—the original sponsor of North Dakota’s restrictive voter ID law. While it is unclear if a Congressional subcommittee will help solve North Dakota’s problem, Boehning’s defeat coupled with the surge in Native voters last election sends a message to any other state legislator considering similar laws to be careful what they wish for.  

Corin La Pointe-Aitchison is an Associate in the Seattle office.  His practice focuses on litigation involving tribal governments and enterprises, and Indian civil rights.