Blood Quantum, Identity, and Sovereignty: Contemporary Legal Battles in Indigenous Communities

A symposium presented by Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) at UC Irvine

Friday, March 24, 2017, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
MPAA 420 and EDU 1111, UC Irvine School of Law (map)

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This symposium will gather indigenous people together to discuss the realities of blood quantum and identity in Indian Country and Native Nations battles for sovereignty. The symposium is broken down into two main topics: “Blood Quantum, Culture, Lineage, and Identity” and “The Fight for Sovereignty.” The first panel will focus on the intersections of the above topics and how they affect tribal communities. The second panel will focus more closely on legal battles that Native peoples are facing in the judicial system currently.

Confirmed Speakers

  • Image of Cristina Coc

    Cristina Coc

    Director and Co-Founder of the Julian Cho Society
    A Q’eqchi’ Woman of Southern Belize

    Q’eqchi’ and Mopan Maya communities have long made their livelihoods by growing corn in the forests that are today within the Toledo District of southern Belize. When the Government of Belize granted a series of large, unrestricted logging concessions to a multinational company in the mid‐1990s, the Maya built a social movement that fought the logging concessions and social discrimination. They also initiated a major lawsuit against the Government of Belize for indigenous rights to their lands. In December 2004, the Inter‐American Commission for Human Rights ruled that the Maya of Southern Belize have full indigenous rights to the lands of southern Belize. However, this momentous ruling had not yet brought about concrete changes in their land tenure status. The Julian Cho Society (JCS) is an organization founded by Ms. Cristina Coc, dedicated to the conservation of the environments and rights of indigenous peoples of Southern Belize. A Maya woman from southern Belize,  Ms. Coc is  fluent in Q’eqchi’ and experienced in mobilizing local residents. Over the last year, Ms. Coc and other Maya Leaders have worked closely with teams of lawyers from the Indigenous People’s Law & Policy Institute of University of Arizona to develop strategies to test the lawsuit, negotiate with the Government of Belize, and build capacity among local Maya. More about the ongoing work of JCS here >

  • Image of Gabriel S. Galanda

    Gabriel S. Galanda

    Attorney at law, Galanda Broadman and Eli Grayson, Former President of the California Mucogee (Creek) Association

    Gabe’s practice focuses on complex, multi-party litigation and crisis management, and representing tribal governments, businesses and members when it matters the most. He is skilled at defending tribes and Indian-owned enterprises against legal attack by local, state and federal government and private parties; advocating for tribal members in disenrollment or civil rights defense; and representing tribal plaintiffs and defendants in catastrophic personal injury lawsuits. Gabe also assists tribes with economic development strategies and transactions. Trained by the American Arbitration Association, he also arbitrates disputes between tribal and non-tribal governments and other parties, as well as mediates such disputes. From 2000 to 2010, Gabe practiced law with a large corporate law firm, where he forged a tribal practice and was the youngest lawyer to ever be elected to the firm’s membership and to serve on the firm’s Board of Directors.

    Gabe is a columnist for Indian Country Media Network, and writes frequently about tribal litigation, sovereignty and business issues. He has been published over 100 times in such other national periodicals as National Law Journal, Business Law Today, Gaming Law Review & Economics, and Indian Gaming magazine. Annually he co-authors the Tribal Court Litigation chapter for the ABA’s Annual Review of Developments in Corporate & Business Litigation desk reference book.

    In 2014, the Washington State Bar Association honored Gabe with the Excellence in Diversity Award for his “significant contribution to diversity in the legal profession.” Most recently, the Seattle Times featured Gabe in a front-page story, “Native Lawyer Takes On Tribes That Kick Out Members”

    In his “spare” time, Gabe founded and now operates Huy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing religious, cultural and other rehabilitative opportunities for American Indian prisoners. He serves as Chairman of the Huy Board of Advisors. Gabe is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of California.

  • Image of Carole E. Goldberg

    Carole E. Goldberg

    Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

    Prof. Goldberg has taught Civil Procedure, Federal Indian Law, Tribal Legal Systems, the Tribal Legal Development Clinic, and the Tribal Appellate Court Clinic at UCLA Law. In 2006, she served as the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and in 2007 she was appointed a Justice of the Hualapai Court of Appeals, a position she continues to hold. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed her to the Indian Law and Order Commission, which investigated issues of safety and justice in tribal communities, and in 2013 issued a Final Report recommending ways to improve Indian country criminal justice. Also in 2013, the Indian Law Section of the Federal Bar Association conferred upon her its prestigious Lawrence F. Baca Lifetime Achievement Award. She is a graduate of Smith College (1968) and Stanford Law School (1971). Following law school, she clerked for Judge Robert F. Peckham, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. She has twice served as Associate Dean for UCLA School of Law,  and served as Vice Chancellor, Academic Personnel at UCLA From 2011-2016. Her recent books include Defying the Odds: The Tule River Tribe's Struggle for Sovereignty in Three Centuries (Yale University Press 2010, co-authored with Gelya Frank), Captured Justice: Native Nations and Public Law 280 (Carolina Academic Press, 2012, co-authored with Duane Champagne). She is co-editor and co-author of Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law (1982, 2005, 2012 editions), as well as co-author of a casebook, American Indian Law: Native Nations and the Federal System (7th ed., 2015).

  • Image of Eli Grayson

    Eli Grayson

    Former President, California Muscogee (Creek) Association

    “I glory in being Creek.” This quote by Eli Grayson’s cousin G.W. Grayson, before Oklahoma statehood, is faithfully used by Eli Grayson today.

    Eli served as president of the California Muscogee (Creek) Association from 2005 to 2013. Eli’s personal goal as president was the difficult task of uniting all Mvskoke citizens living in California. He believed that our differences made us more interesting and stronger. He worked alongside Ken Taylor and others to bring Mvskoke culture and history to Creeks in California. Eli would ask people to check their blood quantum at the door and stop using it as an excuse not to get involved or to learn who we are. Eli believes that “we are responsible for one another.” The Muscogee (Creek) Nation took notice of happenings in California and worked with Eli and the CMCA to hold annual gatherings in California, which were attended by the Principal Chief, his cabinet, and both the Election Board and Citizenship Office. The MCN, under Principal Chief George Tiger’s leadership, maintain attendance at the annual gatherings. In 2014, Eli Grayson was inducted to the Mvskoke Hall of Fame.

  • J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

    Professor of American Studies and Anthropology, Wesleyan University

    J. Kēhaulani Kauanui is Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University, where she teaches comparative colonialisms, indigenous studies, critical race studies, and anarchist studies. Her first book is titles Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity, published by Duke University Press in 2008. Kauanui’s second book, forthcoming from Duke is titled, The Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty. It is a critical study on land, gender and sexual politics in the competing nationalist claims between those advocating for federal recognition and those who seek to have Hawaii restored as an independent nation. Kauanui serves as a radio producer for an anarchist politics show called, “Anarchy on Air,” and she previously hosted the radio program, “Indigenous Politics; From Native New England and Beyond,” which aired for seven years and was broadly syndicated through the Pacifica network. Related to that show, she is editing a volume of select interviews with activists, leaders, scholars, and artists for book publication with the University of Minnesota Press. Kauanui was one of the six co-founders of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. She is also actively engaged in Palestine solidarity activism and serves on the advisory board of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

  • Jeffrey D. Kennedy, NOMA, CPM

    Vice President of the Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band

    Jeffrey currently serves as the Interim President/Vice President of the Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band (MCIFB) of Oklahoma. He was instrumental in the creation and submittal of the MCIFB’s petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Federal acknowledgment for Recognition as a Native American Tribe in 2012 (petitioner # 335). Precariously after more than 30 years of implementation, the petitioning requirements were amended, requiring the MCIFB to resubmit under the new regulations.

    Jeffrey is employed by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Architecture, Engineering, and Planning Unit as the Project Designer/ Architect. He is a member of the Nationally-acclaimed Certified Public Manger leadership program. He Specialized in HealthCare Architecture and now the new DHS County Office Buildings, Renovations, and Historic Preservation w/ Adaptive Reuse.

    A native of Oklahoma, he is a graduate of OC John Marshall High and the University of Oklahoma with the Bachelor of Architecture degree with Distinction. Jeff has the distinct honor of being listed as a Grand Master Springboard Diver. He competed as an inter-collegiate springboard diver, and was recruited by professional aquatics firm Great American High Diving Team and toured with Labatt’s Blue High Diving Team in Canada. He also competed on the Master’s National Diving Circuit and won Master’s National and Sooner State Games Springboard Diving titles.

    His family, the Kennedys, are recognized as one of the “First Families of the Twin Territories” by the Oklahoma Genealogy Society.

  • Denise Turner Walsh

    Attorney General, Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians

    Denise Turner Walsh is the Attorney General of the Rincon Band of Luiseño (Payomkowishum) Indians located on the Rincon Reservation in Southern California. Attorney General Walsh represents the People of the Rincon Band in civil matters in tribal, state and federal administrative proceedings and before tribal, state and federal courts to support, defend and advance the rights and interests of the Tribe, its agencies, arms and enterprises. Her career in Indian law began as clerk to the Chief Judge of the Colville Tribal Court in Nespelem, Washington. She went on to serve for more than five years as a staff attorney at the Native American Program Oregon Legal Services before entering private practice in 2007 and returning to California in 2011. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar, the New Mexico State Bar and the California State Bar and is also member of the Indian Law Section of the Federal Bar Association. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California Los Angeles and her Juris Doctor from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

  • Image of Kimberly A. Cluff

    Kimberly A. Cluff

    In-House General Counsel, Morongo Band of Mission Indians

    Since becoming a member of the California Bar in 1998, Ms. Cluff has worked exclusively in the field of Indian law, advocating for Indian tribes and native non-profits. Her work has included advocacy and litigation connected to tribal economic development, including energy resource development, Indian Child Welfare, strengthening tribal governance and tribal ordinance development. Ms. Cluff also extends her advocacy to legislative efforts, on both the state and federal level. Ms. Cluff is admitted to practice in California, the Washoe Tribal Court and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians Tribal Court.