Law | Opinion

Peter d'Errico: An indigenous oath for the Navajo Nation's bar

"I attended a recent swearing-in of attorneys to the Navajo Nation Bar Association. My friend and colleague, Rodina Cave, was among them. The ceremony brought back memories of my days in the start-up of Dinébe’iiná Náhiiłna be Aga’diit’ahii, Navajo Legal Services. Hearing Navajo spoken again was exhilarating.

A highlight was when the new attorneys recited the oath of office, Naaltsoos bik’ eh go ‘ádee hadisdziih. It begins with an affirmation to “support, obey, and defend” the law, and includes other familiar phrases, such as to “adhere to the rules of professional responsibility.” It starts to differ from oaths typical to state and federal bars with an affirmation to “respect the courts, the judges and peacemakers.” I don’t know of any non-Native attorney oath to respect peacemakers.

The big difference in the Navajo Nation oath, which sets it apart from every state and federal oath, is the concluding affirmation: “With this, I will make life good.”"

Get the Story:
Peter d'Errico: I Will Make Life Good: An Indigenous Oath (Indian Country Today 1/20)

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