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xv Preface i undertook this book at the urging of colleagues and friends who have heard me talk about my career as a tribal attorney. It is a story of my life in the law and my part in the making of Indian history. As I wrote, I had in mind young men and women who might be inspired by my personal history to become tribal attorneys themselves—one of the book’s central themes is that being a tribal attorney is a noble calling and fulfills an attorney’s quest for justice. Another audience consists of those who are interested in Indian life and history and who want to know how the Indian nation has used the American legal system to survive and recapture lost property and rights. But the most important group of readers I hope to reach are the Indian people who have shared their experience with me and who have shown me their common sense, wisdom, and courage. Most of what is in this book is their history, and I am happy to offer my retelling of it to them. I hope they find it to their liking. I began to write this memoir in 2006, at the age of seventy-eight. In it I recall events stretching back over fifty years and, because human memory is often faulty, I may have erred in reconstructing some of these events. For this, I take full responsibility. The dialogues are recreated as faithfully as I can remember them; some I recall completely, and others I have had to reconstruct from imperfect memory. Although this book’s main focus is on my work with Indian tribes, it also describes the making of a lawyer. My family and childhood imparted xvi preface values to me that have strongly shaped my career. I try to describe my personal background to provide some insight into the extraordinary trajectory of my life. The story of my career begins with the alienation I experienced in law school, followed by the baptism of fire as a neophyte coping with sole responsibility for a law practice, jury trials, and appeals without the benefit of any help or guidance. I also describe the stresses and strains involved in creating and running a public-service law firm, believing that the firm’s internal dynamics will be of interest to lawyers and law students as well as the general public. I survived all of these challenges, of course, and ultimately developed into a mature advocate, able to assume responsibility for important and difficult legal cases. This is a memoir, not a history book. For the most part, the facts I recount are those that I personally experienced. Where I have used secondary sources, I have cited them in the endnotes. For example, I found that after thirty-five years I was not able to recall the specific testimonies of witnesses in U.S. v. Washington, so I relied on court transcripts . I have also had the benefit of a research assistant who sought out references for some of the stories I tell. I look back at writing this book with satisfaction. Many of the events I report have never been told elsewhere. Some of what I tell is personal, revealing emotions of grief, anger, elation. I also speak frankly and voice my opinions about those who oppose Indian rights. I make no apologies for the scorn I hold for anti-Indian racism. I conclude with my assessment of the position of the American Indian in the American political system today and my hope for the future. I have tried to help the reader understand the reality of tribal and reservation life from the unique perspective of a tribal attorney. It has been my privilege to serve the Indian people who sought my help. alvin j. ziontz Bellevue, Washington ...


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