No Native Americans among our 860 Federal Judges

Faith-based thinking about racial matters in U.S. society is quite common these days, including much data-less nonsense about this being a “post-racial society” and about “Obama’s election meaning racism is dead” or “minorities are now taking over,” and similar such sentiments. One recent MSNBC report on the recent Supreme Court hearings of Ms. Elena Kagan provides substantial data refuting such notions.

Were you aware that the National Native American Bar Association and the National Congress of American Indians, major Native American organizations, had sent letters to President Obama asking that he consider distinguished and accomplished Native Americans for a position on the Supreme Court, since no Native American has ever served there:

While other ethnic groups and women have made strides in reaching the federal bench, there has never been an American Indian appointed to the Supreme Court or the federal appellate bench, and out of the nation’s more than 860 federal judgeships, not one is currently occupied by an American Indian.

Not a single Native American is serving. We are indeed an exclusionary, highly segregated society still. In our entire history, according to the Federal Judicial Center, only two Native Americans have ever served as federal judges.

The implications of this are obvious:

“There’s just a lack of representation and that lack of representation leads to no voice, no voice whatsoever in the decisions that are being made about Natives,” said Richard Guest, a senior staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, one of the Indian groups that have been meeting with White House officials in recent months, urging them to consider an Indian for the Supreme Court vacancy and for other federal judgeships. Heather Dawn Thompson, the immediate past president of the National Native American Bar Association, calls it a “rather frustrating” situation. “For over two hundred years, the United States Supreme Court has sat in judgment over us, over our lands, over our treaties and over our families. Not one single day have we ever had a voice in those decisions,” Thompson’s group said in its letter to Obama.

I remember something in the old American set of ideals about “no taxation without representation,” and revolutionary anger over lack of representation more generally. Well, here is a complete lack of judicial representation.


  1. Shari Valentine

    Only 3 have served in the Senate: Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Hawaiian Daniel Akaka,Charles Curtis was 1/8 Kaw Indian. Besides Campbell and Curtis who also served in the House, only one other Native American has ever served there.

    Truly taxation without representation. Not to mention legalized thievery as Cobell v. Salazar so exquisitely illustrated.

    But then legalized thievery and taxation withStiout representation is situation normal for Native Americans since the beginning of the Republic, and before.


  1. Tweets that mention No Native Americans among our 860 Federal Judges :: --

Leave a Reply