New Salt River Scholars Program Supports Native American Law Students

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The Salt River Scholars program offers fellows a full scholarship, a paid research assistant position and more

Two high-performing Native American students named Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law inaugural scholars, a new program offered by ASU Indian Legal Program.

ASU freshman law students Ashleigh Fixico and Noah Goldenberg were chosen for the award. Recipients receive a full scholarship, a paid research assistant position, and additional mentorship and financial support as they gain legal experience while studying.

The scholarship was made possible through a partnership between ASU and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community, said Kate Rosier, executive director of the Indian Legal Program.

In official partnership with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community in 2007, Rosier thought the scholarship would be a perfect “thank you” on behalf of the University for its continued support.

“We thought that naming the scholarship program was a great way to honor this partnership,” said Rosier.

Goldenberg, a descendant of the Lower Sioux Indian community, said he felt “bewildered and very humbled by the experience”.

Raised in Portland, Oregon, Goldenberg received degrees in religious studies and history from the University of British Columbia before returning to the United States with his wife.

Goldenberg knew he wanted to pursue Indian law after participating in the Native American Pipeline to Law Initiative in 2019, a workshop that teaches Native American students the law school application process, from LSAT preparation to writing letters of recommendation and more.

A member of the Mvskoke tribe in Seminole, Fixico said receiving the scholarship was an honor not only for her as an individual, but for other Native American students like her.

“It’s really humbling that I’m also a representative of my people through this scholarship, but also knowing that I’m also kind of a role model for my people, it’s a very intimidating and humiliating experience,” Fixico said.

Originally from Oklahoma and graduated from Dartmouth with degrees in government and Native American studies modified by Hispanic studies, Fixico said she knew she wanted to major in Indian law since she was a child.

Collecting storybooks and autobiographies about Native Americans since the age of 8 has fueled her passion to give back to her community.

She interned with the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women and the Udall Congress of Native Americans Internship Program. Her identity as a half-black, Native American woman is crucial to her work, she said.

“The laws are really shaped by the people who defend the law,” Fixico said.

“When there is less diversity in the legal profession, it means there is less voice and representation for the issues that acutely affect minority communities,” Goldenberg said.

Goldenberg, a descendant of Jewish and Native American parents, remembers once sitting down with his mother for what he described as “the most important conversation of my life about my identity.”

“She said: ‘You have the honor, the privilege and the burden of belonging to two historically very oppressed groups which, in theory, should no longer exist and only exist by the strength of the will to continue.” , Goldenberg said.

Established over 30 years ago, ASU’s Indian Law Program continues its work to strengthen Native American representation in law. Students work with the drafting of the tribal court code, conduct trainings to understand the law, and initiate youth programs

With over 27% of Arizona’s land owned by tribes, Rosier emphasized the importance of the program and the work.

“The tribes do so much for their local communities, and they are neighbors. I think bringing attention to the good they do is really important,” said Rosier. “Because I feel like a lot of people who live in Arizona don’t know all the tribes, or don’t know much about them. So if we can help people understand them better and support them the tribes, I consider a win. “

She said that over the years ASU has worked with the National Native American Bar Association, Michigan State University’s College of Law Native Law Program, UC Berkeley Law, and the American Indian Law Center, Inc., etc.

“We want to empower these students to be great lawyers in whatever area they want to pursue, because we need great lawyers,” said Rosier. “And for future students, I hope it encourages them to apply to ASU and be part of our little family here.”


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