Native American female lawyers describe feeling isolated among their peers and at times enduring painful incidents of harassment in a new report published by the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession in collaboration with the National Native American Bar Association.
“Excluded & Alone: Examining the Experiences of Native American Women in the Law and a Path Towards Equity” details personal stories of female Native American lawyers navigating the intersection of race and gender in the legal profession, including tales of hardship and resilience. The report is based on a qualitative research study conducted by Arin N. Reeves, Ph.D., president and managing director of Nextions LLC.
For the study, 74 Native American female lawyers were randomly chosen from a pool of 154 registrants to share stories about their journeys into and within the legal profession.
“Finally, the voices of Native American women lawyers are being heard,” said ABA President Mary Smith, the first Native American female ABA president. “This pioneering study shines a light on the unique barriers Native American women face in the legal profession, including financial obstacles, caretaking obligations, limited mentoring opportunities and the persistent issues of erasure, harassment and bias. It’s only the second study of its kind, highlighting the pressing need to address these issues and create a more inclusive legal community. While the findings may be sobering, they serve as a crucial step toward improving the experiences of Native American women lawyers.”
Study co-chairs Commissioner Jin Y. Hwang, past president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and NNABA past President Linda Benally presented findings from the survey during an ABA Presidential Speaker Series webinar featuring Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, in celebration of National Native American Heritage Month.