Canku Ota Logo
Canku Ota
Canku Ota Logo
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
pictograph divider
Two Cherokees Earn Prestigious Clerkships
by Brittney Bennett- Cherokee Phoenix Intern

Tahlequah, OK – While many college students use summer vacation to recharge, Cherokees Alayna Farris and Bryan Shade are undertaking prestigious clerkships in Boulder, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.
Cherokee Nation citizen Alayna Farris began working for the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder in June and will return in August after 10 weeks with the legal firm.

Alayna Farris and Bryan Shade will complete their law degrees in spring 2016. This summer they are working at clerkships with the Native American Rights Fund and National Indian Gaming Commission, respectively. (courtesy photo)

NARF specializes in protecting treaties and tribal sovereignty, as well as providing legal representation to Native American tribes and villages, organizations and individuals, according to the organization's website.

Cherokee Nation citizen Alayna Farris is spending the summer in a clerkship with the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colorado, where she is completing projects affecting Indian Country. (courtesy photo)

"I'm really excited for this opportunity to work with NARF," Farris said. "Growing up you always hear about the good work that NARF does, and how they protect sovereignty and tribal rights, so I applied. I was looking for a way I could get more experience working with Indian Country."

Farris said she's hit the ground running at her clerkship.

"I'm currently working on analyzing a withdrawal case that is in front of the 9th U.S. Circuit (Court of Appeals)," she said. "Most of my first week was dedicated to working that case."

She added that preliminary research for her next project of analyzing voting rights has started. And while Farris was initially worried about the transition, she said she's found life at NARF enjoyable.

"The culture here is great," she said. "I don't feel like I'm the stranger. I actually feel like I'm walking into a place I've been for a long time. I thought I would just be talking to my supervising attorney, Mr. (Matthew) Campbell, but every attorney has talked to us, shared their experiences and gave some really good advice."

Farris wanted to become a lawyer after working with the CN Indian Child Welfare Office for more than four years while completing her undergraduate degree at Northeastern State University. In summer 2013, she resigned to begin pursuing a law degree at the University of Arkansas, revitalizing its Native American Law Student Association and opening herself up to possibilities.

"Indian Child Welfare is what really sparked my interest to go to law school, and there's always a place for that in my heart," she said. "I want to make sure that our Indian children have all the protection afforded to them by the law, but now that I've been exposed to other areas I didn't know about. The door is wide open."

United Keetoowah Band citizen Bryan Shade works on an ordinance review at his clerkship in the Office of General Counsel at the National Indian Gaming Commission in Washington, D.C. (courtesy photo)

Shade, a United Keetoowah Band citizen, in working for the National Indian Gaming Commission's Office of General Counsel in Washington, D.C., where he will remain through the end of July.

The NIGC is committed to the prompt and efficient regulation of the Indian gaming industry, as well as ensuring the integrity of the Indian gaming industry, according to the organization's Office of Public Affairs.

"I've been interested in (NIGC) since I made the decision to go to law school," Shade said. "I knew that this opportunity was out there. I'm sure there were a lot of applicants for the position, but I guess it was always something I knew I was going to try for."

Entering his fourth week with NIGC, Shade said he's settled into the organization.

"Absolutely everybody in this office has taken me under their wing. This is an amazing group of people. I think they all want to see me succeed," he said.

His assignments include reviewing ordinance requests from tribal regulating agencies and assuring that proposed gaming facilities are on tribal lands in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. He has also compared existing and proposed gaming compacts and will soon be working with Freedom of Information Act requests.

"It sounds kind of cheesy, but every project that I've worked on so far has been amazing," he said. "It was exactly what I had in mind when I imagined what an internship here would be like."

Shade earned his master's degree in business administration from NSU while working with the UKB and CN, where he assisted in completing negotiations with Housing and Urban Development and Indian Health Services.

"Within those negotiations, I started getting curious about what the other side of the table looked like," he said. "I saw the hard times we were having in negotiations, and I thought that going to law school, learning to think like the people we were negotiating with, was going to get me a lot further. This opportunity (with NIGC) lets me achieve the goal of seeing the other side of the table."

pictograph divider
Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us
Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us
pictograph divider
  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000 - 2015 of Vicki Williams Barry and Paul Barry.
Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo
The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the
Copyright © 1999 - 2015 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!