Rush stresses importance of Native law
Cherokee Nation citizen Violet Rush attends the Tulsa Women's March in January. Rush is president of the Native American Law Student Association at the University of Tulsa. COURTESY
TULSA – With the hopes of getting more Natives and others interested in law, the University of Tulsa’s Native American Law Student Association hopes to spread word about the importance of Native law to local communities.
Violet Rush, Cherokee Nation citizen and NALSA vice president, said her role is to spread the association’s message about the importance of federal Indian law while encouraging people to attend law school.
“My job is really to make sure that Native students who are involved in the organization feel supported and feel like their interests are being heard,” she said. “My role is also to let everyone in the group know about things that are going on in our communities, so things like the Indian art fairs that happen, things like Cherokee National Holiday, just so people can stay connected.”
With the hope of reaching schools within the CN this fall, Rush said she wants to get more students thinking about attending law school.
“I think it helps knowing that another Cherokee person is in law school and that they want to help you get there too,” she said. “I think a lot of folks don’t know that you can go to law school and you don’t ever have to step into a courtroom. There are a ton of things that you can do with a law degree that really open up doors and would even increase your chances of working for the tribe or Cherokee Nation Businesses.”
Rush said having Natives in law is necessary because in most cases they’re going to be the only ones to “speak up” for Native rights.
“I think it’s really important first and foremost to have as many Native people practicing law as possible because it’s a really critical part of tribal sovereignty to really understand the law, to understand how federal law works, to understand when the state has jurisdiction and when the tribe has jurisdiction,” she said. “There has to be a Native person at the table speaking up for us, otherwise no one’s going to say anything.”
With 12 NALSA members, Rush said not all of them are Native and that it’s good to have a mixture of ethnicities.
“I think it’s good for us all to work together, and students who are non-Indian that are interested in federal Indian law, they should be friends with these students because their work affects us,” she said.
When NALSA members aren’t studying, Rush said they could be found in the community. In November the association worked with the CN Indian Child Welfare by having a donation drive for children and their families.
“It was really cool to see the community come together and to donate to a really great cause,” she said. “All of the donations went to Cherokee children who are in DHS custody. It went to help provide them with Christmas gifts and help their families out.”
Rush said NALSA would like to partner with more groups in the future and plans to work with the tribe’s ICW again in November.
To learn more about NALSA, search “Native American Law Students Association University of Tulsa” on Facebook.