Leading Indigenous Rights Attorney Gabe Galanda Awarded University of Arizona Alumni of the Year Award

Feb. 21, 2023
Gabe receiving award.

Gabriel Galanda (center) receiving 2022-23 Alumni of the Year Award next to Arizona Law Dean Marc Miller (left) and University of Arizona President Robert Robbins (right)

As a high school intern at a small law firm in his hometown of Port Angeles, Washington, Gabriel Galanda (‘00) fell in love with community lawyering.  

“I loved the way the two named partners in that small firm helped people, even when they could not afford the help,” said Galanda. “I wanted to emulate that in my life and that is what ultimately propelled me towards a legal career.” 

Galanda, an alumnus of University of Arizona Law’s Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (IPLP) Program, has done just that. Over the span of his two-decade-long career he has worked as a legal advocate for Indigenous peoples, generously supported IPLP students, and mentored young Native lawyers. On February 3, he received the 2022-2023 Alumni of the Year Award on behalf of the James E. Rogers College of Law for his extraordinary accomplishments and continued dedication to the university.  

“In the relatively short 22 years since he graduated from the James E. Rogers College of Law, Gabe Galanda has been a staunch advocate for Indigenous human rights, and a human rights and civil rights lawyer all should respect,” wrote Dean Marc Miller in his nomination. “He is the kind of lawyer and alumnus we will be talking about for years and decades to come.”  

Galanda, a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of California, is one of the country’s leading Indigenous rights attorneys. As the managing lawyer at Galanda Broadman in Seattle, he focuses his practice on complex legal and political issues to defend Indigenous nations and businesses and to advocate for the rights of Indigenous citizens. Galanda also founded and operates Huy, a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing religious, cultural, and rehabilitative opportunities for Indigenous prisoners. 

“Arizona Law and IPLP taught me that the status quo is unacceptable, especially as it relates to Indigenous rights,” said Galanda. “What I took at that time [as a student] was that it meant the status quo as perpetrated by colonial or federal forces is unacceptable, but what I’ve learned through my practice is what is also unacceptable is that status quo that allows tribal politicians to perpetuate colonization upon their own people. It is a status quo that cannot be accepted or there may not be Indigenous people to speak of in this country.” 

Galanda recalls his work with over 300 Nooksack tribal members being the most impactful. For over a decade, he and his firm have supported Nooksack tribal members who are being exiled from their homelands by politicians running the tribe.

Steadfast Supporter of IPLP and University of Arizona Law  

By the time Galanda was in college he knew he wanted to be an Indigenous rights lawyer and looked to University of Arizona Law.  

“Arizona Law is and has always been the strongest law school in the arena of Indigenous rights,” said Galanda.  

He reflects on his time in law school as one big fond experience, not only embarking on his legal education but also the first time moving away from home. Galanda was part of the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA), serving as president during his second year. During his time with NALSA he engaged the chapter in providing services to the local urban Indian center and organized a dedicated and successful NALSA-led recruitment effort for an entering 1L class. 

“Gabe’s time as a Native student at the University of Arizona was a period of tremendous intellectual growth, rapid development of his leadership skills, and the emergence of his unique talent for ‘making good trouble’,” wrote Robert A. Williams, Jr., Regents Professor, E. Thomas Sullivan Professor of Law and Faculty Chair of the IPLP Program, in his nomination letter. 

“I was a poor kid from Port Angeles, Washington, who had very little opportunity. The University of Arizona College of Law and IPLP took a risk on me, in admitting me and giving me the tuition assistance that allowed me to come here and to receive a law school degree,” said Galanda “I am forever indebted to everyone who believed in me in that time, at a time when I did not have much self-belief. It is a personal goal to give back to the school in some way that might allow somebody like me to also have the same opportunity and develop the same self-belief.”  

Over the years he has mentored University of Arizona Law students, volunteered to speak to students, a philanthropic supporter of the Huerta Scholarship, participated in events, conferences, and serves on boards at the University of Arizona. He and the partners of Galanda Broadman PLLC, have made transformational contributions to Indigenous human rights advocacy and have been steadfast supporters of University of Arizona Law’s IPLP Program. In recognition of the significant financial support and contributions to Indigenous human rights advocacy made by the firm, the law school dedicated the Galanda Broadman room in the firm’s honor in April of 2022.  

“One of the values we teach our Native law students at the College of Law is the importance of giving back, and Gabe has been the role model I always use to illustrate that value,” added Williams. 

Galanda has been a recipient of many awards including the 2022 ABA Spirit of Excellence Award, presented to the lawyers who personify excellence on the national and international level and have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. He has been named among the Best Lawyers in America in the fields of Native American Law and Gaming Law from 2007 to 2023 and dubbed a Super Lawyer by his peers from 2013 to 2023.  

He now adds the 2022-2023 University of Arizona Alumni of the Year Award, presented to Galanda on February 3, 2023, by University of Arizona President Robert Robbins and University of Arizona Law Dean Marc Miller, with IPLP faculty in attendance.  

“I am grateful for the honor and the support that the honor recognizes, because it is not just the plaque that I am getting,” said Galanda. “This award commemorates that for my entire career and adult life, this law school has supported me through and through. That is what makes the award so special and for which I am eternally grateful.”