JUSTICE LEAH HARJO-WARE

Justice Leah Harjo-Ware was raised on her Mvskoke grandmother’s allotment in the southern tip of the Mvskoke Nation. She received her education from Holdenville High School, the University of Oklahoma (Bachelor of Arts), and Creighton University School of Law (Juris Doctor). She is admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court, United States Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia and Tenth Circuits, United States District Courts for the Western, Eastern and Northern Districts of Oklahoma, the Courts of Indian Offenses for the Muskogee and Anadarko Areas, the Mvskoke Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Justice Harjo-Ware is wA’yû (Deer) Clan from the zAs@^nûnû (Sand Creek Ceremonial Ground) and a daughter of Vcenv Hvtce Tvlse (New Tulsa Ceremonial Ground).

Justice Harjo-Ware has committed her legal career to the practice of Federal Indian and Tribal law. She has served as both a staff attorney and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc., a non-profit law firm providing legal services to indigent Native Americans throughout Oklahoma in Federal Indian Law cases. Justice Harjo-Ware also served as co-counsel in the case of Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Hodel, which resulted in successfully obtaining recognition of the Mvskoke Nation's inherent sovereign authority to re-establish its court system after Mvkoske Nation courts were wrongfully abolished by federal mandate in 1898.

She was nominated and confirmed as the first Vhakv Hayv Espvkacv (Attorney General) of the Mvskoke Nation under the 1979 Constitution. As Attorney General, she represented the Nation as amicus curiae in United States v. Sands, defending the rights of the federal and Mvskoke governments to exercise criminal jurisdiction over restricted allotments. Justice Harjo-Ware and her husband, Henry, also practiced together for a number of years with the firm Indian Country Lawyers, P.L.L.C.

Justice Harjo-Ware currently serves as an attorney decision maker probating Indian trust estates for the Probate Hearings Division of the Office of Hearings and Appeals, U.S. Department of the Interior.  She was first nominated and confirmed to serve on the Mvskoke Supreme Court in January 2007.  In June 2013, Justice Harjo-Ware was nominated and confirmed to serve a second six-year term on the Court.

Justice Harjo-Ware with Justice Yvonne Kauger (Oklahoma Supreme Court) and Justice (ret.) Sandra Day O'Connor (U.S. Supreme Court) at the Sovereignty Symposium, May 2013