“I Am a Native Law Student”: Diverse Perspectives Panel on the Native Law School Experience

A NNALSA-AALS Section on Indian Nations & Indigenous Peoples Collaboration

Date: Tuesday, August 3, 2021, 4:00 – 5:00 PM EST

Webinar Description:

Law school is not inclusive enough of Native students — not by a long shot. Fewer than 1 in 10 ABA-Accredited law schools have a single Native faculty member and fewer than 1 in 100 enrolled law students identify as Native American.  But more and more Native students are going to law school.  Who are they? This panel is an opportunity to hear from some of these students. What are their experiences and what are their hopes for a more inclusive legal education? Panelists will provide perspectives of value for both incoming Native students and legal educators looking to better serve Native students.


Learning Objectives:


Click Here to Watch the Webinar Replay



Ryann Garcia, 3L, Co-President of the Native American Law Student Association (NALSA), University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

Ryann Garciais a J.D. Candidate in the Class of 2021 at UCLA School of Law, specializing in Critical Race Studies and International and Comparative Law.  Ryann holds B.A.s in Religious Studies and Classical Civilizations from UCLA, as well as an M.A. in Asian Religions from Yale University. She is the Co-President (previously President and 1L Representative) of the Native American Law Student Association, a 3L Representative (previously Inter-Org Chair) for the Latinx Law Student Association, and the Symposium Editor for UCLA Law Review. Ryann’s areas of interest are Federal Indian Law, Tribal Law, International Human Rights, Critical Race Theory, and Immigration. See all of Ryann’s posts here.




Angelique EagleWoman, J.D., Co-director, Native American Law and Sovereignty Institute, and Professor of Law, Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate

Angelique W. EagleWoman (Wambdi A. Was’teWinyan) has served as a pro tempore tribal judge in several tribal court systems at the trial and appellate levels. One of the highlights of her career was serving as general counsel for her tribe, the Sisseton-Wahpeton (Dakota) Oyate. She has taught in the areas of Aboriginal Legal Issues, Indigenous Legal Traditions, Tribal Nation Economics & Law, Native American Law, Native American Natural Resources Law, Contracts, The Business of Law, and Civil Procedure. She presents and publishes on topics involving tribal-based economics, Indigenous sovereignty, international Indigenous principles, and the quality of life for Indigenous peoples. She has received numerous awards in legal academia and has been a frequent speaker on issues of diversity, inclusion, and professionalism. At the University of Idaho College of Law, she established the Native American Law Emphasis program and graduated 33 students over seven years. She also served as dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University and was the first Indigenous law dean in Canada. She also serves as a board member for the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association (MAIBA).





Ashleigh Fixico, Rising 2L, President of the ASU Native American Law Student Association (NALSA), Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University

Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Ashleigh N. Fixico is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation from Seminole, Oklahoma. Ashleigh is a rising 2L at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University where she is the President of the Native American Law Student Association (NALSA) and is an Associate Editor of the Law Journal for Social Justice. She is also an O’Connor Merit Scholar and was named one of the first Salt River Scholars.

Ashleigh graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in Government and a BA in Native American Studies modified with Hispanic Studies. After graduation, Ashleigh was the Wilma Mankiller Policy Fellow for the National Congress of American Indians. She also worked with Pipestem Law, P.C., as a Legal and Policy Analyst in Tulsa. Currently, Ashleigh is clerking with the Native American Rights Fund.



Mitchell Forbes, 2L, University of Michigan Law School

Native Village of Shishmaref

Mitchell is Inupiaq from Bethel, Alaska and an enrolled member of the Native Village of Shishmaref. He is the co-president of the Native American Law Students Association at the University of Michigan. He spent his 1L summer in Equal Justice Works’ Rural Summer Legal Corp with Alaska Legal Services Corporation providing direct legal aid to low-income Alaskans. Prior to law school, Mitchell worked in tribal health administration in Bethel and received bachelors’ degrees in political science and journalism from Northern Arizona University.





Kelsey Haake, 2L, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School


Kelsey Haake is Inupiaq from Utqiagvik, Alaska. She is a current law student at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and a summer associate at Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, AZ, working on various Indian Law related projects. Prior to law school, she was a Certified Financial Planner and partnered with various tribes and Alaska Native Corporations on their financial literacy and financial planning for their tribal members. After seven years in the financial industry, she realized we need more Native attorneys. While at University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School she has sat on their local NALSA board and is now the Area 6 Representative for the National NALSA board. She is a big advocate for getting more Native students into law school and frequently offers to help Native students during their admissions process. She also has three children and looks forward to dedicating her professional legal career to working in Indian Country.



Michael LaValley, Rising 2L, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University

Blackfeet Nation; Gros Ventre

Okii Niiksookoowaiks (Hello everyone). I am Mike LaValley and I am from the Blackfeet Nation in northwest Montana. Coming from a big education and sports family, I received my bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education-History & Government from Montana State University-Northern where I also played guard on the men’s basketball team. After graduating I participated in the semester-long Native American Political Leadership Program at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., which led to the Wilma Mankiller Fellowship position with the National Congress of American Indians. After experiencing the nation’s capital, I moved back to Montana and led Indian Affairs advocacy, outreach, and policy for United States Senator Jon Tester as the State Tribal Liaison for four years. Fortunately, I participated in the Pipeline to Law Initiative at ASU Law in summer 2018 and decided law school is the next step in assisting Indian Country. Siiks siiks ah maht seet seet (Thank you).



Sheldon Standish, Rising 3L, Treasurer of National NALSA, University of North Dakota School of Law

Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of the Three Affiliated Tribes

Dosha (Hello), I was born in Minot, North Dakota but grew up within the Three Affiliated Tribes or MHA Nation of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in New Town, North Dakota. I am currently a rising 3L at University of North Dakota School of Law. I am also a father of three wonderful children. One of my goals is for my children to know a Native American Lawyer. Where I am from, there is currently 16,752 members, of those members, there are only 8 lawyers, and of those 8, only 2 practice within the Reservation. When I am done, I want to go back home and apply what I learn to real life situations within the Tribe.