Going into the Winter
Break Trip, I had a lot of anxieties. Would the trip participants enjoy
themselves? Would we be more of a help or hindrance to the local community?
Would we be snowed out? Would one of the participants be attacked by an elk?
Munashe and Kelly speak with Larry Nestler
Fortunately, none of
these worries came to pass. Participating in the free legal clinic was amazing.
It was truly humbling to witness the community come behind what our students,
the Legal Aid Sylva Office and Cherokee Court House were doing. All of the
clients that came in were extremely warm and friendly. Even when our students
were not able to resolve their legal problems, I did not see one client leave
the clinic disappointed.
It was also truly
inspiring to see the trip participants handle some very knotty legal issues
with such aplomb, skill and confidence. As I am sure you have read, two of the
trip participants served a client in Canada (eh?).
We also had an
opportunity to listen to a number of great speakers. Wednesday afternoon,
Justice Martin, one of the sitting Associate Judges on the Cherokee Court, gave
us a highly informative and entertaining briefer on Native American Law and history,
highlighting how the Supreme Court’s decisions in cases like Johnson v. M'Intosh shaped and
informed the relationship between Native American Tribes and the federal
Thursday night, we were
graced with a wonderful speech by Myrtle Driver, a fluent Cherokee speaker and
passionate advocate for Cherokee culture and issues. Ms. Driver regaled us with
stories of her youth and her attempts to not only preserve the Cherokee
language but to also create new Cherokee words.
We were also honored to
have Corey Blankenship, the Treasurer for the Eastern Band of Cherokee, come
speak to our group. Corey’s speech gave us a brief snapshot of the economic and
social issues affecting the reservation today. Of particular note was his
discussion on the Tribe’s attempts to amend the per capita distribution scheme
(program in which reservation residents are given a share of the Casino’s
Munashe Stands Pensively
All in all, it was a
wonderful trip that I feel honored to have been a part of. I would like to
thank Judge Saunooke, Judge Martin and Senior Managing Attorney at the Legal
Aid Sylva Office Larry Nestler, Kelly Anderson, who, along with me, was a
special trip coordinator, the Pro Bono Program Director Meriwether Evans, Pro
Bono Program Advisor Dean Novinsky, Charles Story, who helped document the trip,
and, most important of all, the trip participants who made this trip an
experience I will never forget.
Posted by Munashe Magarira on Fri. January 18, 2013 8:23 AM
Winter Break Trip 2013