2018 Navajo Law CLE set for 11-16-18

November 1, 2018

Updated 11-12-18 ~ See links below for viewing and downloading materials in advance.  This is a paperless seminar. Advance download is strongly encouraged. Hotel wi-fi speed slows down significantly when large groups attempt to access information in real time during the seminar. 

Sutin, Thayer & Browne law firm presents its annual Navajo Law Seminar on Friday, November 16, 2018, at the Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Place NE, in Albuquerque.

The seminar offers 6 Navajo General Law hours and 2 Navajo Law Ethics hours, applicable to the Navajo Nation Bar and the State Bar of New Mexico. Certification has been granted by the New Mexico MCLE and by the Navajo Nation Bar.

Registration Form – Credit

Registration Form – Check


  • November 16, 2018 – All-Day Conference
  • Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102
  • 8 Navajo Law credit hours total; 2 credit hours apply to Navajo Ethics (certification approved)
  • 8 NM MCLE credit hours total; 2 credit hours apply to ethics (certification approved)
  • Course produced and sponsored by Sutin, Thayer & Browne, APC

7:30 a.m. Pastries and coffee


8:00 – 9:00 a.m. – 1.0  Navajo Law Credit or General Credit

Current Issues in the Navajo Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act – (click to view and download)
Amanda H. Frazier and Therese E. Yanan

Navajo philosophy underlies the right of individuals to make their own decisions and assume the risk of those decisions. At the same time, people are living longer under disabilities that may affect their ability to evaluate the risks of decisions or to keep themselves safe. The Navajo Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act was created to guide the process of determining when and how an adult is determined to need a guardian. The policy, process and procedures of the Act will be discussed, along with recent updates in the last year.

Amanda Frazier is the PQ Special Master for the 2nd Judicial District Court, managing the Court’s existing adult guardianships. Formerly the Director of the Guardianship Project for Advocacy Inc. in Albuquerque, she represented families petitioning for Kinship Guardianship for children in their care, and represented children and parents in the foster care system. Ms. Frazier previously managed the Lawyer Referral for the Elderly Program. She received her J.D. from UNM School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. Ms. Frazier is licensed in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.

Therese Yanan began working in Mexican Hat, Utah, for DNA – People’s Legal Services, Inc. in 1993. Since 1994, she has been the Director of the Native American Protection & Advocacy Project. In 2005, the project was established as a separate non-profit organization now known as the Native American Disability Law Center, one of the few disability advocacy offices in the country that focuses on the special legal needs of Native Americans with disabilities. Ms. Yanan specializes in representing adults and children with disabilities. She has represented children in every level of the special education process in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and in schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. She has also been involved in major efforts to improve protections for the civil rights of Native Americans with disabilities in federal and tribal courts, to increase statutory protections for Native Americans with disabilities and to expand the understanding of the unique issues facing Native Americans with disabilities.


9:00 – 10:00 a.m. – 1.0 Navajo Law Credit or General Credit

The Navajo Treaty of 1868: Historical and Continuing Significance – (materials not provided in advance)
John P. LaVelle

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Navajo Treaty of 1868. The Navajo Treaty has played a crucial role in the development of principles of federal Indian law historically, and in securing the tribal rights and reinforcing the sovereign authority of the Navajo Nation and other Indian tribes in modern times. In this presentation, we explore the Treaty’s historic and contemporary significance and contemplate its potential for protecting Indian rights and tribal sovereignty into the future.

John P. LaVelle is an enrolled member of the Santee Sioux Nation and a Professor of Law and Regents’ Lecturer at the University of New Mexico School of Law. He serves as director of the UNM Law and Indigenous Peoples Program. He received his college degree from Harvard University and his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. He  served on the executive editorial board for the 2005 and 2012 editions of Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the comprehensive treatise in the field of Indian law. He chairs the Association of American Law Schools Section on Indian Nations and Indigenous Peoples. He is an Associate Justice of the Santee Sioux Nation Supreme Court, his tribe’s highest judicial tribunal. He lives in Albuquerque with his husband, Monte Deer Carden, an artist, actor, and enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.


BREAK: 10:00-10:10


10:10 – 11:10 a.m. –  1.0 Navajo Law Credit or General Credit

Legislative Research and Legislative Update for 2018 (click to view and download)
Kristen Lowell and Candace French

This presentation will discuss the legislative process for the Navajo Nation, how to find updates to the code on the Navajo Nation Council website, and recently approved resolutions by the Navajo Nation Council and the standing committees of the Navajo Nation Council.

Kristen Lowell is an attorney for the Navajo Nation Office of Legislative Counsel. Her work includes drafting legislation for consideration by the Navajo Nation Council and standing committees, as well as advising offices within the Legislative Branch. Kristen has been in government service since her law school graduation. She began her career as an attorney in the U.S. Coast Guard as a Judge Advocate General. She also worked for the Internal Revenue Service in field collections. Kristen is a 1997 graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, Connecticut, and was a visiting student at the University of Montana School of Law.  She is licensed to practice in New Mexico, Connecticut, Montana, and the Navajo Nation.

Candace French, originally from Anadarko, Oklahoma, is an enrolled member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes and is of Navajo, Comanche, and Blackfeet descent. She earned her B.A. in political science, B.A. in American Indian studies, M.A. in criminal justice, and J.D. with a certificate in Indian Law, all from Arizona State University. She was admitted to practice in Arizona in 2017, is a member of the Indian Law section, and serves as the Area 2 representative for the Young Lawyers Division. She is also admitted to practice law in the Navajo Nation. Candace serves as an attorney for the Legislative Branch of the Navajo Nation. She has more than 10 years of experience working in Native American communities.


11:10  – 12:10 p.m. – 1.0 Navajo Law Credit or General Credit

The Navajo Preference in Employment Act: A Riddle within a Mystery Wrapped Inside an Enigma
Luralene Tapahe

The Navajo Preference in Employment Act was last codified in 2004. Since then, the Navajo Nation Council has amended the NPEA several times. However, these amending resolutions have not been incorporated into the 2004 version of the NPEA. Thus, litigating even simple NPEA cases and pursuing other NPEA matters on behalf of clients is often a perplexing and frustrating endeavor. This presentation will review the 2004 codified version of the NPEA, comparing it to the amending resolutions adopted during the last 14 years and presenting an unofficial “current” version of the NPEA for consideration.

Luralene Tapahe is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who grew up in the Fort Defiance, Arizona, area and graduated from Window Rock High School in 1983. She earned her law degree from the University of New Mexico in 1995. From there, she worked with the Navajo Tax Commission and as an attorney with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice until 2013. From 2013 to 2016 she worked as a generalist attorney with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians in the Tacoma, Washington, area. She has performed freelance legal work on the Navajo Nation, working on tribal and federal Indian law matters, including Navajo and Indian preference issues. In 2017 she joined the Law Offices of David R. Jordan in Gallup.

Click to view and download:

Navajo Preference in Employment Act

Selected Navajo Nations Resolutions


New NPEA Proposed Legislation


12:10 – 12:55 p.m. – LUNCH – courtesy of Sutin, Thayer & Browne


12:55 – 2:55 p.m. – 2.0 Navajo Ethics Credit or General Ethics Credit

Model Rules of Professional Conduct–Practical Tips for Navajo Practitioners
Steven C. Boos

Mr. Boos will review the 1985 Model Rules currently authorized by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court along with an overview of Disciplinary Committee procedures, including what to expect and what to do when you get a letter from Jay Mason. Additionally, the Disciplinary Committee’s “Top 10” types of complaints will be addressed as well as three practicum questions for group dissection and discussion based on recent cases that have come before the Committee.

Steven C. Boos is a partner with Maynes, Bradford, Shipps & Sheftel in Durango, Colorado. He specializes in Indian healthcare and general litigation for tribal governments, including the Navajo Nation and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and has been a member of the NNBA Disciplinary Committee since 1996. He earned his J.D. from the University of California at San Francisco, Hastings College of the Law, and his B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of California at San Diego.

Annotated Model Rules of Conduct

Order Re Rules

Code of Judicial Conduct

Rules of Procedure

Ten Most Common Complaints

Fact Pattern One

Fact Pattern Two

Fact Pattern Three

Fact Pattern Four

Fact Pattern Five

Fact Pattern Six

BREAK: 2:55 – 3:05 p.m.


3:05 – 4:05 p.m. – 1.0 Navajo Law Credit or General Credit

Taxation on the Navajo Nation (click to view and download)
Raymond C. Etcitty

Presentation will cover the elements of taxation; Navajo taxes; applicable state taxes in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, within the Navajo Nation; applicable federal taxes within the Navajo Nation; general tax application upon different entities; and dual taxation and effect upon Navajo Nation economic development.

Raymond C. Etcitty serves as General Counsel for the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, which operates four casinos.  In this position, Mr. Etcitty is experienced in casino start-up and operations and provides legal and business advice to management.  He has worked for the Enterprise for more than 10 years.  Prior to his current position, he was Chief Legislative Counsel for the Navajo Nation Council and Executive Director for the Office of the Navajo Tax Commission.  While Executive Director; Mr. Etcitty implemented the Navajo Fuel Excise Tax and Sales Tax; and administered the other Navajo taxes.  He negotiated intergovernmental tax agreements and credits with surrounding states.  In the area of economic development, he was an in-house attorney for the Nation’s Division of Economic Development and Division of Community Development and staff attorney in the Navajo Nation Department of Justice. Mr. Etcitty has taught Federal Indian Law at the University of Phoenix and taught Indian Taxation at the University of New Mexico School of Law.  He served on the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Advisory Committee on Tax-Exempt and Government Entities.  He is Dine, from the Big Water Clan born for the Red Running into Water Clan.  He earbed his B.A. in Political Science from the University of New Mexico and J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law.  He has two daughters, Hannah and Grace.

2016 to 2017 Tax Revenue Collections

Tax-18-232 Approving Model Tax Code

Tuba City Has Highest Sales Tax in U.S.

Tulalip v. Washington Federal District Order


4:05 – 5:05 p.m. – 1.0 Navajo Law Credit or General Credit

Cannabis and the Navajo Nation
Ed McCool

What the Navajo Nation needs to know regarding the cultivation and distribution of cannabis in its two forms: 1) hemp and 2) marijuana, both medical and recreational.  We will look at the laws and regulatory schemes regarding hemp as they exist in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Navajo Nation in the context of the Farm Bill of 2014.  We will also look at the varieties of regulation regarding medical marijuana among those same sovereigns in the context of current federal law and policy, and we will take a quick look at recreational marijuana.  Materials will include links to the respective state regulatory schemes.

Ed McCool is principal attorney with the Navajo Nation Office of Legislative Counsel, where he has worked for nine years.  He served as acting chief legislative counsel for two years during the Council transition from 88 to 24 members. He also has served as an attorney for Community Legal Services and executive director and chief lobbyist for Common Cause New Jersey, a public interest citizen lobby.  He earned a B.A. from LaSalle University, an M.A. from Temple University, a J.D. from Temple School of Law, and an LL.M. – Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy from University of Arizona College of Law.

Arizona Hemp

Colorado Hemp

Navajo Hemp

New Mexico Hemp

Utah Hemp

Cannabidiol Product Act

Federal Perspective on Cannabis

Menominee Indian tribe of Wisconsin v. Drug Enforcement

Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp

Title 21 Chapter 17; Pest, Disease, and Weed Control

Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations

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