Huerta Scholarship Program

The Huerta Scholarship was established in 2014 in honor of Judge Lawrence Huerta to provide financial support to Native American law students attending the University of Arizona Law. Judge Huerta, a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, was the first Native American student to graduate from University of Arizona Law (class of ’53) and be licensed to practice law in Arizona. Throughout his illustrious career, Judge Huerta worked tirelessly to increase access to education and promote tribal sovereignty.

This year we are calling on the University of Arizona Law and Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (IPLP) Program community to support Native law student by donating to the Huerta Scholarship on #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving, this November 27, 2018.

Support Huerta Scholars

Invest in the success of Native law students on #GivingTuesday, this November 27, 2018. There are multiple ways you can support Huerta Scholars:

  • Support Huerta Scholars by making a donation today. Make sure to select "Huerta Scholars" in the “I want to support” field of the donation page.
  • Follow IPLP on Facebook and Twitter and share/retweet #GivingTuesday posts.
  • Leading up to November 27, share our campaign on social media and tell your friends why you stand with Native students using #HuertaScholars and #GivingTuesday.

Stand with Native law students by donating to the Huerta Scholarship. Help us reach our goal of raising $10,000 in support of Native law students attending the University of Arizona Law!

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Judge Huerta’s Commitment to Public Service

During his career in public service, Judge Huerta’s many accomplishments include helping draft the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s constitution and playing a pivotal role in the tribe’s successful effort to gain federal recognition, extending vital rights to the tribe and its members. Today the Pascua Yaqui Tribe has one of the most robust governments and tribal court systems in the nation, which is why it was selected as one of the first tribes in the country to regain the authority to criminally prosecute non-Native offenders of domestic violence. Judge Huerta also played a pivotal role in the development of the Navajo Nation tribal court system, widely regarded as one of the strongest and most vibrant tribal courts in the nation.

Judge Huerta took a leading role in increasing access to education for Native Americans. During his time as Chancellor of Navajo Community College (now Diné College), Judge Huerta helped expand the college’s reach and impact within the Diné community. Rooted in Diné language and culture, Diné College is a pillar of the nation building activities of the Navajo Nation and expands access to culturally relevant education for the community.

Judge Huerta also worked in various capacities in the state of Arizona, including in the attorney general’s office, as a member of the State Industrial Commission, and as a judge on the Maricopa County Superior Court. He recognized the need for governments to work on behalf of, and not against, less fortunate members of society. In recognition of the thousands of lives Judge Huerta has impacted, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, the law school’s highest honor.

In the six decades since Judge Huerta's graduation from the University of Arizona Law, more than 180 Native American and Indigenous students have followed in his footsteps, earning their law degrees with a concentration in Indigenous peoples’ law and policy through the IPLP Program.

Leading Native Student Success

University of Arizona Law has the largest number of Native American students among the country’s top-ranked law schools.

According to American Bar Association statistics, the University of Arizona Law has the largest class of Native American Juris Doctor (JD) students among the 150 ranked law schools in the U.S. World News Report. Thanks to the heavy investments that the University of Arizona Law and IPLP have made in student recruitment, retention, and advising initiatives focused on Native students, this year’s incoming class is one of the most accomplished to date. With the addition of Assistant Professor of Law and IPLP Program Graduate Advisor Akilah Kinnison, along with IPLP Program Specialist Alisha Morrison’s focus on student success, we are poised to continue the great strides we have made in Native student recruitment, retention, and mentoring.

“The Huerta Scholarship awards have been the key elements in being able to enroll the largest Native law student cohort of all 150 law schools ranked by the U.S. World News Report. For me, that number one ranking was hard earned. It’s a reflection of the remarkable legacy the law school alumni community has built by going on to establish themselves in remarkable careers with remarkable achievements in their field,” says Robert A. Williams, Jr. Regents' Professor, E. Thomas Sullivan Professor of Law, and IPLP Faculty Co-Chair.

With your support of the Huerta Scholarship, we can continue the significant gains University of Arizona Law has made increasing the number of Native students attending law school and Native lawyers practicing law. The incoming class of 12 Native JD students includes students from 10 different Native Nations and Indigenous communities, one Fulbright Scholar, a recipient of the 2018 Emerge New Mexico Emerging Woman of the Year award, and a Major League Baseball pitcher.

2018 Huerta Scholars

Kayla Wrolson is a member of the Puyallup Tribe. Kayla was always interested in law school, but was intimated by the process of applying to law school. However, after learning about the need for Native and women attorneys, Kayla was inspired to become a lawyer, motivated to make a difference in Indian country. 

“Knowing there were other people in the same position as me made me see law school as a goal I could accomplish. I was drawn to law school to make a difference in Indian country and I am constantly inspired by my classmates. Through law school, I have met other Native students from all over the country with different experiences. My classmates share stories from their homes and their hopes of what they want to accomplish after law school. Their motivations and stories inspire me to make the most of my law school experience and to make a difference in my career. As an attorney, I hope to help as many Indigenous people and nations as possible, to protect their human rights and sovereignty,” says Kayla.

Darrah Blackwater, a member of the Navajo Nation, was inspired to pursue law in order to create change and help the underserved more effectively. The support of fellow students and faculty, and the financial support of the Huerta Scholarship has helped Darrah excel in law school. When it came time to decide where to do a summer internship after her first year of law school, Darrah didn't limit her dreams. That led Darrah to the office of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs (AS-IA) through the Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship. AS-IA oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, the Office of Indian Gaming, and works with many other branches of the Department of the Interior. 

“While interning for AS-IA, I learned what tribal advocacy looks like from inside a federal agency. I wrote memos for the Assistant Secretary, sat in on meetings between Department of Interior officials and tribal leaders, and participated in reviews and adjustments to relevant federal procedures. This was invaluable experience and I feel immense gratitude for those who have supported me through law school. This includes my parents, who listen to me ramble on about case law and bring me meals in the midst of finals stress, my friends and mentors, who offer emotional support and remind me that nothing is impossible, and the many Huerta Scholar donors who make this dream possible by lifting some of the financial burden of law school from my shoulders,” says Darrah.