Published: April 28, 2022

Siena Kalina and Emiliano Salazar

Siena Kalina '23 and Emiliano Salazar '23

For the first time, two University of Colorado Law School students will serve on the National Native American Law Students Association (NNALSA) Executive Board. Siena Kalina ‘23 and Emiliano Salazar ‘23 were elected president and vice president, respectively, of NNALSA, during the NNALSA Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 6-8.

Kelby Welsh ‘23 was elected as the Area 2 Representative, which serves the Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico NALSA chapters.

Kalina, who also serves as president of Colorado Law’s NALSA chapter, is a member of the Osage Nation who grew up in Yakima, Washington. She hopes to work in Indian law after graduation, either directly for a tribe or with a firm specializing in Indian law.

“CU has such a great Indian law program, and I am very proud that we now have multiple students on the NNALSA board,” she said. “I have to give thanks to the previous CU Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) board for putting this in motion over a year ago. They successfully bid for our chapter to host the National NALSA Moot Court, which in turn made our chapter much more involved in National NASLA and ultimately led us to run for positions on the board. I am very honored to continue this work and increase CU’s involvement with National NALSA throughout the upcoming year!”

As NNALSA president, Kalina said she hopes to help Native students at other law schools secure adequate support and funding for their local chapters.

“Being involved in the CU NALSA chapter has been such an important part of my law school experience and helped me to both make friendships and secure jobs in Indian law,” she said. “As president of National NALSA, I want to ensure that all Native law students receive the same support through their local chapters. I would like to focus on increasing our fundraising efforts so we can support more students through chapter grants and individual scholarships. Native people make up a very small portion of the legal community, so it is incredibly important to have organizations like National NALSA to support Native law students.”

Salazar, who serves as secretary of Colorado Law's NALSA chapter, agreed, adding that many local NALSA chapters faced challenges maintaining engagement during the pandemic. As vice president, he hopes to help NNALSA provide more funding to area representatives and local chapters to host events that will help rebuild and heal communities, while also increasing fundraising efforts to support scholarships, prizes for competitions, and sponsorships for local chapters.

"I believe Siena and my appointments to NNALSA show that Colorado Law has one of the preeminent Indian law programs in the country," said Salazar, who is of Mexican, Indigenous, and Jewish descent. "I would not have run for the vice president position if I didn't know that I had the full support of our incredible staff. We have some of the best professors and mentors in Indian law and this is as much of a reflection of their leadership as it is ours. Personally, this is a chance to be of service to Indian country as a whole. It is an honor to serve on the NNALSA executive board and with my election, I also hope to bring representation to Indigenous peoples of the Global South."