This week we hear about the efforts of 2020 JD graduate Darrah Blackwater to help bridge the digital divide in Indian Country through her advocacy and scholarship.

I encourage you to attend one our weekly LawCats Live webinars, in which Arizona Law faculty lead us in discussing a range of important and timely topics. The next few sessions are listed above and you can find the full lineup here

In addition, details of a newly scheduled webinar are included below -- a July 20 live discussion of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision pertinent to DACA.

Until the footnotes,

Alumna Darrah Blackwater Seeks to Bridge Digital Divide in Indian Country
High-speed internet service is often now considered an essential resource, but in many parts of Indian country, the lack of internet access is creating a public health crisis for communities devastated by COVID-19 and also creating a slew of economic challenges. 

Recent University of Arizona Law graduate Darrah Blackwater (JD '20) is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and is using her research and advocacy skills to bring attention to and offer solutions for this digital divide.
According to the American Library Association, seven in ten residents on rural tribal lands remain without access to high-speed internet. In tribal communities without reliable internet service, people lack access to telehealth and mental health services. 

Students also face significant challenges as classes have moved to online instruction. 

The economic implications of internet access in Indian country are enormous. In 2018 alone, the internet sector accounted for $2.1 trillion of the U.S. economy, approximately 10% of gross domestic product. Aside from the economic impact of e-commerce and related industries, tribes lack ownership of the radio waves, called spectrum, and other telecommunications infrastructure needed to develop internet service on tribal lands. These spectrum rights are worth hundreds of billions of dollars and will only become more valuable over time.

Darrah is a policy adviser to the Internet Society's 2019 Indigenous Connectivity Summit. She says,
"Internet access is vital to indigenous communities for myriad purposes: emergency communication, distance learning, telehealth, remote economic opportunities, and data gathering, to name a few. COVID-19 is shining a light on the digital divide in Indian country, revealing devastating impacts. Now is the time to figure out how to connect"
Darrah, who previously interned in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., with the Inspector General of the Department of Interior, and at Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker as a federal Indian law clerk, has been increasing awareness and advocating for tribal spectrum rights through a series of op-eds, presentations and webinars. Most recently, she wrote an op-ed in the Arizona Republic titled "For tribal lands ravaged by COVID-19, broadband access is a matter of life and death."
She has also led webinars on the topic through South by Southwest (SXSW) and the Indigenous Graduate Education in Science and Engineering in the Southwest. On the SXSW webinar" How Internet Access Can Preserve Native Cultures," Blackwater joined a panel of experts to discuss how internet access can protect Native cultures and increase community engagement.
In addition to her public advocacy on the topic of addressing the digital divide in indigenous communities, Blackwater has conducted extensive research on the topic for her substantial paper, "Broadband Internet Access: A Solution to Tribal Economic Development Challenges," which will be published later this year by the Indigenous People's Journal of Law, Culture, and Resistance at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Around the College

Webinar on DHS v. University of CA SCOTUS Decision, 
July 20

Please join Arizona Law Professors Andrew Coan, Shefali Milczarek-Desai ('01), and Shalev Roisman for a live discussion regarding this recent SCOTUS decision. All are welcome!

July 20, 12-1:30 p.m.
Zoom meeting ID 884 6749 1538
Password DACA
From the decision:
"We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. 'The wisdom' of those decisions 'is none of our concern.' ... We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action. Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew."

Share Your Expertise with Students

Are you interested in sharing your advice with Arizona Law students and helping them find the right career path? Please consider participating in the Career Development Office's interview series! 

The Career Development Office is developing a resource for students consisting of recorded interviews with attorneys and law school graduates -- especially those who have followed non-traditional or alternative career paths. 

If you might be willing to be interviewed remotely via Zoom or have any questions about the project, please contact the career office's academic programs officer, Kayla Wrolson ('19), at

Connect With Arizona Law 

Alumni, send your good news -- career, personal, family, or otherwise -- to us at We'll share what we can in a future edition of Letter of the Law.
And remember, you can also connect with fellow alumni through the Bear Down Network!

Download Your Arizona Law Digital Wallpaper 

If you'd like to project a visual reminder of your pride in Arizona Law, you can select one of our digital wallpapers to use as your Zoom background. There are over a dozen to choose from.

In the News
Our new graduate Darrah Blackwater inspires us with her sustained efforts to address critical but sometimes hidden resource needs on the Navajo Nation and across Indian country.

Real change is hard. It takes time.

With the passion, focus, intellect, legal expertise, and compassion demonstrated by leaders like Darrah, I have great hope in our collective ability -- as lawyers and through law -- to address the most pressing needs of our communities.

Marc Signature


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