I want to show Native youth they can become lawyers.
Anna is a California Bar Foundation Legal Fellow serving rural, low income Native communities in Payahüünadu (Owens Valley) in Bishop, California.
California Indian Legal Services received a grant from California Bar Foundation to hire Anna.
California Indian Legal Services (CILS) provides no-cost and low-cost legal services to Californian Indian communities. They, like many other legal aid organizations serving rural, remote, or indigenous communities, are desperately understaffed and under-resourced. The societal challenges that give rise to their need to exist—low literacy, high poverty and unemployment rates, and struggling economies—are the same reasons why they have difficulty attracting lawyers to live and serve their communities. As a result, residents have some of the worst access to decent legal services in California.
Thankfully, in the Payahüünadu (Owens Valley) in Bishop, California, there was an exception to this unfortunate reality. Anna Hohag, a citizen of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, always stood out as a driven, passionate, and brilliant young woman. Those around her knew she was bound for greatness, especially when she graduated from college and started law school. They assumed that, like those bright minds who came before her, other communities would be the ones to benefit from her intelligence and education.
But Anna had other plans.
In law school, she made a point to focus on Indigenous Peoples Law and Water Law because she knew that would enable her to best serve her community when she returned home.
Anna’s determination to serve her tribe wasn’t enough to make it happen. CILS still lacked the resources to bring her on board. As their community’s needs grew, they felt incapable of making the impact the Owens Valley tribes needed. In 2017, California Bar Foundation gave CILS a grant to bring on an additional attorney to expand their reach. From the beginning of the search process, Anna was the obvious fit. Today, with CBF funding, Anna works full-time for CILS, and is living out her passion to serve her tribe. Her clients know she has the contextual understanding of their lives. She understands their backgrounds, their challenges, and their pride to represent them in the most authentic way possible. As a result, they are more likely to be on the receiving end of just and positive outcomes. Investing in CILS and in Anna means that their community is armed with one more changelawyer who looks like and understands those she represents and is intent on breaking the cycle of inequity too often found in our courtrooms.