Jackie Rashleger (`93), whose vision and hard work led to the establishment of the University of New Mexico School of Law’s Southwest Indian Law Clinic in 1994, died in late January after a long battle with cancer.
Rashleger, a Haida Native from Alaska, clerked for the Native American Rights Fund and then moved to Arizona after earning her J.D. She was in-house counsel for two Arizona tribes before establishing Amerind Builders, a commercial general construction company, in Phoenix. Throughout her career, she focused on serving Native Americans.
In Phoenix, she was a member of the Phoenix Indian Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Canyon Minority Business Council and several other business network groups in Arizona. She was a single mother and enjoyed playing golf, reading and traveling. She also carved and painted in the Northwest Coast Indian Art tradition, after studying under several master carvers in Ketchikan.
Rashleger served as president of the 13th Regional Corporation, one of 13 corporations created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.
She attended the Pre-Law Summer Institute at the American Indian Law Center in 1990, before enrolling in the UNM School of Law. As a law student, Rashleger drafted a plan to create a law clinic that would provide practical experience specific to the field of Indian law. With support from then-Sen. Leonard Tsosie (`92), the Legislature approved funding to establish the Southwest Indian Law Clinic (SILC). It wasn’t long before SILC emerged as the leading nationally recognized Indian law clinic.
“That funding has continued through today and has accumulated to an amount well more than $2 million since the clinic’s inception,” said Professor Christine Zuni Cruz (`82), director of the law school’s Law and Indigenous Peoples Program and Senior Advisor to the Dean and Faculty for Law and Indigenous Peoples Issues.
“Jackie’s work to push for the establishment of a clinic to prepare law students for the practice of Indian Law at UNM was an important expression of the need to make legal education relevant to the unique aspects of representing and working with indigenous peoples and tribal nations,” said Zuni Cruz. “Because of her success, law students have had the opportunity to experience working with Native clients and tribes and the ability to reflect on best practices in the representation of indigenous clients as part of their law school experience.”
“Jackie was perhaps the nicest and most well-liked of anyone in my PLSI class – even though she was our peer, she was always more calm and poised than any of the rest of us,” said Dean Kevin Washburn. “Her quiet competence left a legacy that exists to this day at the School of Law."
February 1, 2012