SPOKANE, Wash. - Representatives from nine tribes and confederated tribes
of the Plateau region gathered at Gonzaga University's College of Law for a
tribal seal unveiling ceremony on April 2. Mounted on the wall above the
bench in the Barbieri Moot Courtroom were nine bronze seals, each one
representing one of the nine tribes. It's Gonzaga's way of recognizing the
sovereignty of the tribes, each with its own court system.
Don Barbieri, whose family is recognized in the name of the courtroom,
spoke about his father being raised next to the DeSmet Mission on the Coeur
d'Alene Reservation. He said "My father would have loved to be here with
tribal leaders today to honor tribal governments and give testimony within
this courtroom to a future of working together to make a difference, giving
opportunity to all our children." He continued, "Today's unveiling ceremony
begins a new era for this courtroom and for the Gonzaga School of Law. The
tribal seals that grace these walls shall serve to remind all present and
future students and faculty that, in addition to being a nation of
immigrants, we are also a nation of nations."
The nine tribes represented include: Confederated Salish and Kootenai,
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Spokane, Yakama, Coeur
d'Alene, Colville Confederated Tribes, Nez Perce, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho,
Representatives from all tribes spoke, expressing their thanks to Gonzaga
Law School and describing the history and artwork represented in their
individual seals. Antone Minthorn, chairman of the Board of Trustees for
the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation commented that his
father was a 1953 graduate of Gonzaga. David Washines, a member of the
Yakama Tribal Council said various tribal members have attended Gonzaga in
the past and their tribal judge is a graduate of the law school. Ernie
Stensgar, chairman of the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Council also spoke of
education, saying "education is a top priority of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe."
Margo Hill, a Spokane tribal member, is an attorney for the Spokane Tribe
and said how appropriate it was that Gonzaga University is recognizing the
nine tribes in this manner as the Spokanes used to gather near this very
spot along the Spokane River. She also is a former student and commented on
how rewarding it was to return and see the tribal seals.
Anthony Johnson represented the Nez Perce Tribe as chairman of the
executive committee. He said, "Our sovereignty has always been under attack
by mainstream society. Today we sit here with you celebrating the shift in
time that those people who come here to learn the practice of law ... they
will learn Indian law side by side and understand that there is another
level of sovereignty in America. For that we give Gonzaga great credit for
leading the way in establishing this philosophy and displaying the
sovereign status of Indian nations in the Northwest on their walls."
The unveiling ceremony preceded the Eastern Washington Indian Law
Conference at Gonzaga, co-sponsored with the University of Washington
School of Law. The conference sessions that followed provided attorneys and
students with continuing legal education, particularly in regard to
fee-to-trust issues and other current concerns for tribal courts.