Students Receive State Bar Indian Law Scholarships

Gertrude Lee, Jonathan Tsosie and Carrie MartellGertrude Lee, Jonathan Tsosie and Carrie Martell, all third-year UNM law students, have been awarded Bar Preparation Scholarships by the Indian Law Section of the State Bar of New Mexico.

The students were selected based on their interest and academic background in Indian law, involvement in Indian communities and issues, academic achievement and financial need. They all are pursuing an Indian Law Certificate. Each student will receive $2,000 to help pay for preparation and taking the bar exam.

Gertrude Lee began her community service during high school in Kirtland, NM, on the edge of the Navajo Reservation and continued to volunteer her time throughout college at Creighton University. While at Creighton, she contributed research toward a legislative effort to address a frightening epidemic of suicide among Native youth. She mentored high school students on reservations in Nebraska and South Dakota, spent a summer interning with U.S. Rep. Tom Udall and helped prepare inmates on house arrest to take the GED for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

At the UNM School of Law, she has continued to tutor Native American high school students.

Carrie Martell's interest in Indian law was solidified when she earned a master's degree in American Indian Studies at UCLA. After graduation, she worked as a legal assistant at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in California and determined she wanted to go on to law school to deepen her commitment to working on Native American issues, especially domestic violence and sexual assault against women. She chose the UNM School of Law for its Indian Law Program. She has clerked for the Navajo Nation Supreme Court and worked with the Pueblo of Laguna's prosecutor's office. Through the Southwest Indian Law Clinic, she has volunteered her time on behalf of domestic violence victims.

Jonathan Tsosie's legal education began long before he enrolled in the UNM School of Law. He spent three years as a research assistant on a case involving the Jicarilla Apache Tribe and the federal mismanagement of oil, gas and timber resources. As an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, he worked with Native American middle school students and high school students who were struggling at home and at school. As a member of the New Mexico Law Review, he has chosen to write about the Indian law trust doctrine.

The Indian Law Section of the State Bar established the scholarships two years ago to allow students the chance to concentrate on studying for the Bar Exam without financial worry.

"Working on this year’s scholarship program was inspiring because we had a remarkably talented pool of applicants. In addition to strong academics and a commitment to practicing Indian law in New Mexico, the winners had focus, drive and a sense of service to their communities," says Sarita Nair ('03), chair of the fundraising committee. "We are pleased to be able to let our donors know that they are supporting these exciting young lawyers. We look forward to seeing the positive impacts the scholarship recipients will have in New Mexico over the next few years."