Friday, September 2, 2016

National Caucus of Native American State Legislators adopts Hale resolution urging the president and Congress to appoint federal judges and justices with experience in Indian Law

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Earlier this month the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators adopted a resolution Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), sponsored which urges the president and Congress to appoint federal court judges and Supreme Court justices with knowledge of federal Indian law.

“Attacks on the sovereignty of Indian nations are so often staged in federal courtrooms now,” Hale said. “It is absolutely imperative that all branches of government in the United States honor the sovereignty of Indian nations, and that can only happen if the judges presiding over the cases involving Native American people know and understand the inherent sovereign status of Indian nations.”

The Caucus sent a copy of this resolution to all branches of the federal government, all state governments and all Indian nation governments. Every year the members of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators meet to encourage policymakers and the public to better understand state and tribal issues and to promote legislation to achieve a better quality of life for Native American people. This year, the Caucus met in Chicago and adopted three resolutions, including Hale’s. Another resolution calls on Congress to eliminate the disparity in criminal sentences and prison time served for those convicted in federal versus state courts and to address the disproportionate effects of these convictions on Native Americans and people of color.

“The legal system should be fair,” Hale said. “It’s as simple as that. If it is not, if there is disparity, we have an obligation to root it out and correct it.”

This Caucus delivered this resolution to the president, members of Congress and the commissioners of the United States Sentencing Commission. The third resolution offered support for the use of biosimilars, or biologic drugs, to help increase access to affordable medicine for Native American people. The Caucus agreed to educate legislators about the availability of biosimilar drugs.

“This is a step forward for Native American health care,” Hale said.

Hale served as the vice chairman and can continue to serve as vice chair emeritus of the Caucus for two more years. For more information on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators, go to
Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.