Gabe Galanda: The growing chorus against disenrollments

Members of Nooksack Tribe of Washington protest disenrollment. Photo from Facebook

Attorney Gabe Galanda documents the growing movement against tribal disenrollments:
In April, the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) met in Phoenix and adopted Resolution #2015-06, “Supporting Equal Protection and Due Process For Any Divestment of the American Indigenous Right of Tribal Citizenship.” NNABA denounced “any divestment or restriction of the American indigenous right of tribal citizenship, without equal protection at law or due process of law or an effective remedy for the violation of such rights, and declared “that it is immoral and unethical for any lawyer to advocate for or contribute to” any disenrollment where such human rights protections are not afforded.

NNABA’s proclamation marked the first time that any national Indian organization had taken on disenrollment. Although Indian lawyers typically wait for Indian leaders to set national Indian policy, NNABA felt that tribal leadership could not be further waited on to address the disenrollment epidemic.

NNABA implemented Resolution #2015-06 two months later through its issuance of Formal Ethics Opinion No. 1, “Duties of Tribal Court Advocates to Ensure Due Process Afforded to All Individuals Targeted for Disenrollment.” Recognizing that any ethical void in Indian Country contributes significantly to the disenrollment of Indians without basic human rights protections, NNABA determined it “necessary and appropriate to address advocacy on disenrollment matters specifically” in order “to remind lawyers and any bar associations to which they belong that lawyers’ ethical obligations to their licensing jurisdictions do not stop at reservation boundaries.”

NNABA’s opinion challenged its own members—tribal lawyers who forsake their ethics and morals, if not their own Indianness, when helping terminate Indians.

Get the Story:
Gabe Galanda: The Anti-Disenrollment Chorus Sings, Part 1 (Indian Country Today 11/13)

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