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Speaker series to cover social justice, sovereignty, human rights struggles in the Native American community

Alfred Urbina speaker for the IPLP program.
Alfred Urbina speaker for the IPLP program.

This semester’s Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Center Speaker Series will take a legal viewpoint exploring Indigenous Peoples’ search for social justice and rights. 

The series began Wednesday, with Alfred Urbina, the assistant attorney general of the Tohono O’odham Nation, as the first speaker.

What is it about?

The series, which is funded by the IPLP program, focuses on promoting human rights or social justice for Indigenous Peoples. 

Rebecca Tsosie, law professor and faculty co-chair for the IPLP, said, “I’m really excited about our speaker series because it features well-known Native attorneys and leaders in the field” as well as Native University of Arizona alumni. 

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Why should students go?

“I just think [the speaker series is] a unique opportunity for any student really interested in learning about advocating to communities that are overlooked,” said Justin Boro, assistant director of the IPLP program.

Boro said students should check out the discussions if they want to get involved in advocacy or social justice in communities often overlooked by the justice system. These events could also provide a networking opportunity for students interested in the law program.

“For graduate or undergraduate students who are Native, I think this is also a great opportunity for them, whether they are thinking about becoming a lawyer or they’re just kind of curious about current topics in the practice of law within tribal communities,” Boro said. 

History of the IPLP Speaker Series

“Indigenous Peoples around the world are kind of united in very similar struggles about sovereignty and self-determination, land rights, religious freedom, environmental rights …” Tsosie said. 

She added that students of Indigenous heritage will find a lot of the topics the speakers address familiar. 

Run through of the program

Urbina, the first speaker, is a graduate of the Arizona Law’s IPLP program, a veteran and a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. He talked about the intersections between criminal justice system, public health and safety and child welfare within tribal communities.

According to Boro, Urbina will help students by sharing his own career path and providing a broad look at what’s going on currently in the Native community.

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Wenona Benally, the second speaker in the series, is an Arizona state house representative for District 7 and another UA alumna. She holds a Masters of Laws degree in the IPLP program and one in public policy. She will share her experience in legislature work, including her life pathway and impact of her work.

Ethel Branch, attorney general of the Navajo Nation and the last speaker in the series, will discuss the importance of asserting authority within the law. Her discussion will include the Navajo Nation’s efforts to assert their sovereignty. 

The series is a unique opportunity for any student to learn about navigating communities. It is open to the public, and food is provided. If students want to attend the next lecture on Oct. 1, they should RSVP by email to

More information:

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