Advocating Before the Supreme Court on Behalf of Native Americans

As tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, located in southern California, Mark Macarro works for the self-sufficiency of the tribe. He sees his task as facilitating economic development while preserving traditional ways. With that goal in mind, Mark Macarro joined the board of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), an advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

NARF sponsors the Tribal Supreme Court Project, which strives to improve the legal position of Native Americans before the nation’s highest court. Founded in 2001, the project seeks to enhance new strategies of litigation to assist tribal legal efforts. The project consists of about 200 lawyers and academics who are experts in Native American law and related areas of law, such as trust law and property law.

Project members believe a unified approach to tribal sovereignty is necessary to win cases. They monitor cases at the state and federal level to determine which cases could possibly reach the Supreme Court. The project also maintains a database of relevant cases already before the state supreme courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Other project activities include providing document-writing assistance to litigators and performing legal research. Conference calls and panel discussions about certain cases sometimes lead to the formation of working groups to coordinate specific approaches to various issues.

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