Ms. Alther will be honored with an Outstanding Achievement in California Indian Law Award from the California Indian Law Association (CILA). For the first time ever, the California Indian Law Association will be honoring a legal professional who has made significant contributions to California Indian law.
Dorothy Alther has been an attorney with California Indian Legal Services (CILS) since 1989 and has practiced Indian law since 1985. Ms. Alther was in the Bishop CILS Office until she relocated to the Escondido Office in 2003. Her current work focuses on tribal issues including environmental law, housing law, tribal ordinance development, and land acquisition. She serves as legal counsel for several Tribes and tribal entities and has worked on tribal court and law enforcement development and a variety of other tribal matters. Ms. Alther has been a trainer on Public Law 280, the Indian Child Welfare Act, housing law, civil and criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country, tribal law enforcement and the Tribal Law and Order Act. Dorothy is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and graduated from University of South Dakota and earned her J.D. from Northeastern University. Ms. Alther served as Managing Attorney at DNA’s People’s Legal Services in Crownpoint, New Mexico prior to coming to CILS and has acted as Tribal Attorney for the Suquamish Tribe in Washington. Ms. Alther is also the recipient of the national 2010 Pierce Hickerson Award which is granted to distinguished Indian legal services attorneys.
“I am deeply honored for this recognition from my colleagues. I have had the privilege to work with so many outstanding California Indian lawyers and to be selected as one of them means so much to me. I will continue to strive to do the best I can for California tribes and native people in order to live up to this prestige award,” said Dorothy Alther, Executive Director of CILS.
Some of Dorothy’s most notable legal work has been at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On behalf of the Los Coyotes Band of Cupeno and Cahuilla Indians, CILS challenged the Bureau of Indian Affairs lack of funding for tribal law enforcement under the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act. Currently, on behalf of the Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee, CILS is protecting, under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Kumeyaay tribes’ right to repatriation of Native America human remains estimated to be 9000 years old.
When Ms. Alther was asked about her success in practicing Indian law, she said, “I have some basic rules. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Learn to listen and be respectful of your client’s culture, customs and traditions.”
Hon. Christine Williams, Chief Judge for the Shingle Springs Band Of Miwok Indians Tribal Court and 2013-2014 CILA President said, “On behalf of the Board of Directors of the California Indian Law Association, it is with deep admiration that we recognize Dorothy Alther for all of her great contributions to California Indian Law, with the inaugural ‘Outstanding Achievement in California Indian Law Award.’ We could not think of a more deserving candidate and we are honored she has accepted the award.”
The 14th Annual California Indian Law Gala will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct 16, 2014, followed by the 14th Annual California Indian Law Conference from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, at the Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula. Dorothy’s career long commitment to Indian law will be highlighted at an awards ceremony at the Gala and Dorothy will also be presenting on the Topic of “The Ethics of Representing Tribes” the following day at the Conference. For the full agenda and details visit the CILA website: www.calindianlaw.org
California Indian Legal Services is the largest non-profit Indian law firm in California with four offices statewide and has been in operation for 45 years. CILS represents California Tribes, tribal organizations, and low-income individuals on matters of Indian law.
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