Washington, D.C. | Today, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) celebrate the confirmation of Judge Shanlyn Park to the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i. Judge Park is the first Native Hawaiian woman federal judge in the state. Native Hawaiians comprise 21.8% of the population served by the district where Judge Park will preside.
“Inclusion of Native Hawaiians in the courts that preside over matters in Hawaii is critically important to advancing trust in the judicial system and the rule of law. Judge Park’s deep experience in Hawaii state and federal courts, in criminal and civil matters, and her deep connections to the communities her district serves will be a great asset to the court and will help increase trust in the federal justice system,” said Makalika Naholowaʻa, President of the National Native American Bar Association.
“The U.S. legal system will benefit from the unique combination of wisdom, experience, knowledge, and perspective that Judge Park will contribute to the District of Hawai’i,” said NCAI President Mark Macarro, “and NCAI commends President Biden for nominating Judge Park, Senators Hirono and Schatz for their strong support of Judge Park, and for the votes cast by the Senate to make this historic appointment happen.”
Despite the outsized impact federal court decisions have on Native communities, Native people are under-represented in the federal judiciary. Even with Judge Park’s confirmation, of the more than 870 authorized federal judgeships, only seven judges from American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities currently serve on the federal bench. As a Native Hawaiian who lives, works, and volunteers in Hawai'i and who has deep ties to her community, Park understands how federal laws and policies profoundly impact the daily life of Native Hawaiian, American Indian, and Alaska Native people.
“Federal courts hear many cases involving Native people so federal court judges must be aware of the political status, legal principles, and rights of Tribal Nations and Native individuals,” said NARF Executive Director John Echohawk. “The confirmation of Judge Park takes a step in the right direction for a more balanced and representative federal judiciary system.”
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the United States. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies. NCAI promotes an understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people, and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.
About the Native American Rights Fund (NARF):
NARF is a non-profit 501c(3) organization focused on applying existing laws and treaties to guarantee that federal and state governments live up to their legal obligations to Native Americans. Since 1970, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has provided specialized legal assistance to Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide to assert and defend the most important Native rights. In hundreds of major cases. NARF has achieved significant results in critical areas such as tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, natural resource protection, voting rights, and Indian education. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @NDNrights to learn about the latest fights to promote justice and protect Native American rights.
About the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA):
The National Native American Bar Association was founded in 1973 to advance justice for all Native Americans and the inclusion of Native Americans in all aspects and levels of the legal profession. NNABA is the national professional trade association for Native American lawyers, including members from American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities and tribes across the United States. Learn more at www.nativeamericanbar.org.