Apr 14, 2015 - National Native Lawyers Association Decries Tribal Disenrollment Without Due Process

April 13, 2015

CONTACT: Michelle Roberts

National Native Lawyers Association Decries Tribal Disenrollment Without Due Process

Lawyers Who Aid That Practice Deemed “Immoral and Unethical”; Confederation of Disenrollees Rejoices

Phoenix, AZ – Last week, the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) formally resolved to denounce “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.”

In doing so, NNABA became the first national Indian association to decry disenrollment.

“The national Indian lawyers association’s resolution is a breath of wonderfully fresh air,” said Cathy Cory, who was disenrolled from the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians in 2006 along with over 70 of her family members. “Finally, the truth is being spoken nationally in tribal circles about this rampant violation of human rights that is happening right here in the United States.”

NNABA also declared “that it is immoral and unethical for any lawyer to advocate for or contribute to” any disenrollment process that is void of such constitutional and international human rights protections.

“It is the lawyers who barged in from the outside and helped rip our tribe in half, quite literally,” continued Cory, referring to the fact that Picayune has shrunk from 1,850 to 750 members over the last ten years, under dueling tribal council factions. “No laws, ethics or morals have stopped them. Worst of all, it is Native lawyers who are causing the destruction for sake of their legal fees.”

With disenrollment “expanding throughout Native America, with Native nations in at least seventeen states engaging in the practice,” disenrollees like Cory have formed a Confederation to speak out against the practice and to shine a light on the related constitutional and human rights injustices. The Confederation also includes members of the Nooksack 306, and Grand Ronde descendants of Chief Tumulth.

NNABA was founded in 1973 and serves as the national association for Native American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students, and strives to be a leader on social, cultural, political and legal issues affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.

Last Real Indians