All posts by Todd Densen

Fed Bar and Writing Competition Results!

Our NALSA Chapter sent a cohort of students to attend the 40th Annual Federal Indian Law Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The students attended a number of great panels on Native American legal topics, and also had the opportunity to meet many legal practitioners and other students in this field.

We would like to extend our congratulations to the new 2016-2017 National Native American Law Students Association Board (NNALSA)! We are proud to announce that we have three Columbia students serving on the 2016-2017 NNALSA Board:

Ray Martin – Public Relations Director

Vanessa Racehorse – Area 2 Representative

Dale Williams – Area 6 Representative


Additionally, we would like to extend our congratulations to two of our NALSA members who placed in the 15th Annual NNALSA Writing Competition:

Second Place: Trevor Reed ‘17, Who Owns Our Ancestors’ Voices? Tribal Claims to Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

Third Place: Jacob Grubman ‘16, State Attorneys General and Indian Tribes: Values and Obligations of Cooperation

We are also excited to announce that Columbia has been selected to host the Annual NNALSA Writing Competition for the second year in a row!

Overall, it was a great trip for our students and our NALSA members are grateful for the opportunity to participate in the work of NNALSA.



Columbia NALSA Caravans!

Columbia NALSA sent three caravans to Indian Country over spring break to provide legal services. This year we sent groups to DNA People’s Legal Services on Navajo Nation, Wisconsin Judicare, and Anishinabe Legal Services (ALS).

Four Columbia NALSA students traveled to Window Rock, AZ to work withDNA People’s Legal Services. DNA is a non-profit that seeks to provide legal services to low income individuals who could not otherwise afford representation. Columbia students worked on a variety of legal issues facing tribal members including guardianship hearings, state property law claims, contract law claims, and consumer fraud. The team also observed proceedings in Tribal Court.

Columbia NALSA at Canyon De Chelly on Navajo Nation.
Columbia NALSA at Canyon De Chelly on Navajo Nation.

Additionally, five students from Columbia Law School traveled to Minnesota to work with Anishinabe Legal Services (ALS). ALS is a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to low-income individuals living on or near the Leech Lake, Red Lake, and White Earth Reservations in Northwestern Minnesota. Students worked with ALS attorneys to hold open clinics and provide direct legal services to clients with regards to their civil legal needs, with a strong emphasis on assisting victims of domestic violence. The students also completed research projects that will be utilized to serve the reservation communities. This included research on tribal, state, and federal law related to specific topics such as health care and estate planning.


Congratulations to 2016 NALSA Moot Court Team!

Congratulations to all of the competitors at the 2016 National NALSA Moot Court Competition hosted by the Michigan State University College of Law!

This past weekend Columbia’s NALSA sent nine teams to the competition:

Thomas Enering ’18 & Ray Martin ’18

Rebecca Nocharli ’18 & Komal Patel ’18

Dale Williams ’18 & Laura Pond ’18

Hannah Lutz ’18 & John Christian ’18

Maia Hutt ’18 & Grant Johnson ’18

Samuel Nadler ’18 & Alena Perszyk ’18

Max Schechter ’18 & Theodore Witt ’18

Jacob Grubman ’16 & Nelson Hua ’16

Cady Nicol ’16 & Simon Wechsler ’16

The team was incredibly successful this year. Rebecca Nocharli ’18 & Komal Patel ’18, Jacob Grumman ’16 & Nelson Hua ’16, Cady Nicol ’16 & Simon Wechsler ’16, and Samuel Nadler ’18 & Alena Perszyk ’18 all advanced to the elimination round of sixteen.

Rebecca Nocharli ’18 & Komal Patel ’18 advanced further into the top eight at the competition.

Cady Nicol ’16 took home one of the competitions top prizes as best spoken advocate beating out 103 other competitors.

The team was coached by Rori Collins ’17, Dhrumit Joshi ’17, Morgan Saunders ’17, Todd Densen ’17, and Saagar Kaul ’17. The team would also like to give a special thanks to their faculty advisor Christine Swanick, Professor Steven McSloy, Professor Shawn Watts, and all of the guest judges who helped make this possible.

The Moot Court Program at Columbia Law School is made possible by the generous support of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

NALSA Lunch Event – Native Americans and Voting: The Discrimination Continues

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, NALSA, the ACLU, and the American Constitution Society present: Native Americans and Voting: The Discrimination Continues.

Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project joins NALSA to speak about current issues facing Native American Voters, recent efforts to combat discrimination, and exciting litigation that will take place in the lead up to the 2016 Presidential Election.

Screening “Across the Creek”

Columbia NALSA screens “Across the Creek”

“Across the Creek explores both the unbridled dreams and the painful reality of Lakota people from South Dakota.” This is a great way to learn about a community that NALSA travels to and works with every other year. It is also a community that has been deeply affected by the federal court system and Indian Child Welfare Act Policy.


It’s still here. What was 200 to 300 years ago is still here. The language … the spirituality … is still here. The songs are still here. All we have to do is go back … and take it.

— Albert White Hat (Sicangu Lakota)