The Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship
The Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship, part of the Attorney General's Honors Program, is designed to create a new pipeline of legal talent with expertise and deep experience in federal Indian law, tribal law, and Indian Country issues that can be deployed in creative ways to build tribal capacity, combat violent crime, and bolster public safety in Indian Country jurisdictions.
The Fellowship is named in honor of Department of Justice attorney, the late Gaye L. Tenoso. Gaye’s distinguished service to the Department and the people it serves spanned 30 years. For the last six years of her life Gaye served as the Deputy Director the Office of Tribal Justice. Gaye’s expertise in Federal Indian law and knowledge of Tribes enabled her to be an exceptionally effective advisor on litigation and policy matters. She worked tirelessly to ensure that specific protections for American Indian women were included in the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013. Gaye also mentored many legal interns during her time at the Office of Tribal Justice, and was an inspiration and guide who left a deep impression on many young attorneys.
Prior to serving with the Office of Tribal Justice, Gaye worked for over 25 years in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in the Educational Opportunities Section and the Voting Section. While in the Voting Section, she received the high honor of being invited by the United States Solicitor General to sit at counsel table during the Supreme Court argument in Reno v. Bossier Parish School District. In addition, Gaye led the Civil Rights Division’s Election Monitoring Program to ensure the right to vote for all Americans. Gaye’s passion was to ensure American Indians were provided the same access to voting as others. She was instrumental in bringing cases against counties in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah to provide language assistance at the polls for American Indians, where she helped spearhead unprecedented remedies to provide voting opportunities for all.
Each Indian Country Fellowship position offers a 36-month appointment that may be extended or converted to a permanent position. Fellows will generally be assigned to a U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) with significant Indian Country work, but may have the opportunity to be assigned to a Main Justice Component with significant equities in Indian Country matters and law. Fellowship appointments may, at the hiring component’s discretion, be extended or converted to permanent positions without further competition. This year, the Indian Country Fellowship will place one Fellow in a U.S. Attorney's Office. Candidates will interview with a joint panel of attorneys from the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) and USAOs.
Candidates who receive an offer of employment will be able to select their assignment preferences from the list of participating Districts. Actual placement will be mutually agreed upon by the Fellow and the District. In addition to the joint EOUSA/USAO selections, individual USAOs may offer additional Indian Country Fellowship positions at their discretion, with hiring conducted according to their regular procedures.
As part of your work with a USAO, Indian Country Fellows will be required to serve 12 months with an appropriate tribal legal entity, typically in a tribal prosecutor’s office. The assignment or detail may consist of a one-year detail to a single tribal legal or governmental entity or two six-month details to different tribal legal or governmental entities.
The Indian Country Fellowship is open to all eligible Honors Program applicants, including current law students graduating in the coming academic year. The 2015-2016 Honors Program application opens on July 31, 2015 and closes on September 2nd. There are a few requirements associated with bar admission that applicants should consider:
- Fellows who accept an offer from a USAO located in a jurisdiction that requires State bar admission must become admitted to that bar within 12 months of entry on duty.
- Whether or not the USAO is located in a jurisdiction that requires admission to that State’s bar, all Indian Country Fellows hired by USAOs must be admitted to a bar (any U.S. jurisdiction) within 12 months of appointment.
- Incoming Fellows who are not admitted to a bar (or who have not recently taken a bar with results pending) are expected to take the first available bar examination for which they are eligible (e.g., a May 2016 law school graduate should take the July 2016 bar exam).
First Justice Department Indian Country Legal Fellow To Serve In the District of Arizona
On December 4, 2014, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., announced that Charisse Arce, of Bristol Bay, Alaska, had been selected as the first-ever Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Legal Fellow, part of the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Ms. Arce is currently a fellow at Bristol Bay Native Corporation, one of thirteen Alaska Native Regional Corporations created under federal law. Ms. Arce received her law degree from Seattle University School of Law, where she was a member of the editorial staff for and published an article in the American Indian Law Journal.
“We are excited to welcome Charisse Arce to the District of Arizona as the first Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship recipient,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona John S. Leonardo. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to making this inaugural fellowship a success for all involved and a model for future fellowships in Arizona and in districts around the country. Ms. Arce has demonstrated a strong commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and we look forward to having her in our Tucson office and working closely with the Pasqua Yaqui Tribe.” “The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the District of Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Honors Program, through the Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship,” said Pascua Yaqui Tribal Chairman Peter Yucupicio. “We welcome the new Department of Justice fellow and look forward to a productive partnership as we fight violent crime, work to keep our community safe, and continue to implement the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (SDVCJ).”
Possible U.S. Attorney's Office placements for the 2014-2015 Indian Country Fellowship included the District of Arizona, the District of Colorado, the District of Minnesota, the Southern District of Mississippi, the District of Nebraska, the District of North Dakota, the District of South Dakota, the Eastern District of Oklahoma, and the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Placement opportunities for the 2015-2016 Indian Country Fellowship will be posted in late-Spring 2015.