The inaugural Salt River Scholars are first-year ASU Law students Ashleigh N. Fixico (former UNITY 25 Under 25) and Noah Goldenberg.In a new partnership with the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, two top Native American ASU Law students have been named the first Salt River Scholars.
Initiated last fall and funded directly by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the program offers ASU Law students who are selected to receive a full-tuition scholarship, a paid research assistant position, faculty mentorship and financial assistance to gain legal experience during summer breaks.
“The (Indian Legal Program) is very proud to offer this prestigious scholarship to honor our partnership with the Salt River Indian Community,” said Kate Rosier, executive director of the Indian Legal Program and ASU Law’s assistant dean of institutional progress. “ASU Law has one of the best Indian law programs in the country and we want to continue to attract the best students.”
Fixico and Goldenberg said they are grateful for this opportunity.
“Being named one of the first Salt River Scholars is a tremendous honor, and I want to thank the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community for investing in my education and future,” said Fixico, from the Mvskoke tribe in Seminole, Oklahoma and a graduate of Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts in government and a Bachelor of Arts in Native American studies modified with Hispanic studies.
Goldenberg, a member of the Mdewakanton Sioux tribe, was born in Massachusetts, raised in Portland, Oregon, and graduated from the University of British Columbia with a double major in religious studies and history.
“It is an enormous honor to be one of the first Salt River Scholars,” Goldenberg said. “It fills me with tremendous pride, but also with humility. This honor reminds me that I have a role to play in the future of our communities. Being a Salt River Scholar has further energized me to develop my legal knowledge to the best of my ability.”
Fixico, who interned in 2017 with the U.S. Department of Justice in the Office on Violence Against Women through the Udall Native American Congressional Internship Program, says when she began considering law school, she knew that ASU Law was her top choice and is grateful to be part of the ILP family.
“A part of me always knew I would be coming to ASU Law, and I am so thankful to be starting my 1L spring semester here, even in the midst of a global pandemic,” said Fixico, who was also the Wilma Mankiller Policy Fellow for the National Congress of American Indians from 2018–19. “I always feel like there is someone rooting for my success because the ILP family is full of encouraging words and a strong willingness to help.”
With several ASU Law alumni and students as her mentors and friends over the past few years, Fixico says she had a firsthand look at how encouraging and supportive everyone is from ASU Law.
“I feel valued as an aspiring Native attorney, and that is something not every law school can provide,” she said. “Law school is challenging, but with SRPMIC’s support I am able to focus on my professional goals and develop the skills I need to affect meaningful change in my community, as well as across Indian Country.”
Most recently, Fixico worked with Pipestem Law, P.C., as a legal and policy analyst. She currently serves on ASU Law’s Native American Law Students Association board as an 1L representative and will be clerking this summer at the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, Colorado.
For Goldenberg, his motivation and preparation to apply to law school began with the Native American Pipeline to Law Initiative workshop in 2019 and deciding that ASU Law was the right choice for him for several reasons.
Goldenberg wanted to be part of a large Native American community and knew that this community at ASU Law was already well-established with the Indian Legal Program and Native American Law Students Association. Choosing ASU Law also felt like a “no-brainer” for him and his wife, Alyssa, as they have been living in Phoenix since 2018 due to a career move for Alyssa. And Goldenberg’s brother Simon is a 2018 ASU Law and Indian Legal Program alum.
“I am so proud to be part of the ILP family,” he said, adding that the Salt River Scholars program is a testament to the meaningful relationship that the program has with tribal nations in Arizona and throughout the country. “This active and meaningful relationship between tribal nations and the ILP is a constant source of motivation.”
Goldenberg wants to pursue a career in federal Indian law to advocate on behalf of Indian tribes, and he believes that ASU Law offers the best Indian law program in the country. A performer, coach and teacher of improvisational comedy in his spare time, Goldenberg says he has not found a class he doesn’t enjoy in law school and hopes this trend continues.
To learn more about the Salt River Scholars program and how you can be a part of it, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DesiRae Deschine, a 2019 ASU Law JD and ILP alum, contributed to this story.