Law school awards first Native American Law Scholarship

Stacy DeMassStacy DeMass didn't always embrace her Native American ancestry and culture.

After living with her father in New York for most of her childhood, she moved to Washington to live with her mom, a member of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, when she was 13. As a teenager, DeMass was more interested in typical high school activities than learning about her family history and traditions.

But as she grew closer to her mom, her curiosity and commitment to her tribal community deepened. Today, she is passionate about Indian issues and is the recipient of Seattle University School of Law's first Native American Law Scholar Award. She earned a full-tuition scholarship and intends to study Indian Law. 

The School of Law established the award to encourage more Native students to pursue legal careers. The Native American Bar is among the smallest in the country.

DeMass attended the First Nations powwow, meeting family and tribal members from across the country and Canada, and took part in the Tribal Canoe Journey, where 100 tribes from throughout the Northwest make an annual voyage. Last year, she paddled 30 miles per day in a cedar canoe with 17 of her closest family and friends to Cowichan, British Columbia, learning more about them all the way.  

Those personal experiences, combined with her courses in American Indian studies at the University of Washington, brought her closer to her mother and her roots.

"This community has taught me to respect and appreciate the traditions that embody my culture and those of differing cultures," she said.

DeMass is grateful for the scholarship and looks forward to being involved in projects of the law school's Center for Indian Law and Policy.

"There is a real need for tribal attorneys," said DeMass, who worked for the Tulalip Child Support Program for a year before law school. "There are a lot of opportunities to learn and practice the law. I want to give back something to my community."

Sullivan Hall