Ethel Branch is the Attorney General of the Navajo Nation. She formerly served as an attorney at Kanji & Katzen, PLLC, a law firm solely committed to advocacy on behalf of Native Nations. There Ethel advised and represented Native Nations on a variety of issues, with a focus on restoring tribal natural resources and shielding tribal revenues. Previously, Ethel was an indigenous human rights attorney in Washington, D.C., where she helped advance the implementation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States and the Americas. Ethel also served as a tribal finance associate assisting tribes in gaining access to the capital markets and in leveraging tribal assets to fund the development of critical capital infrastructure in Indian country. Ethel is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned her B.A. cum laude in History, her Masters in Public Policy, and her J.D.
Pursuant to 2 N.N.C. §1964(A), the Attorney General is the Chief Legal Officer for the Navajo Nation and provides legal assistance in all matters in which the Navajo Nation government has an interest. The Attorney General oversees the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, which consists of the following six Units: 1) Litigation & Employment Unit; 2) Human Services/Government Unit; 3) Natural Resources Unit; 4) Economic/Community Development Unit; 5) Tax & Finance Unit; and 6) Water Rights Unit. Each Unit is led by an Assistant Attorney General who is expert in the applicable subject area. The Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, and the AAGs of the Department of Justice are always directly or indirectly involved in every legal matter concerning the Navajo Nation. There are thirty-seven attorneys and advocates who serve in the Navajo Nation Department of Justice.
The Attorney General also oversees the Office of the Prosecutor, the Office of Juvenile Justice and the Navajo-Hopi Legal Services Program. A Chief Prosecutor spearheads the work of the Prosecutors and Juvenile Presenting Officers who cover the Nation’s eleven district courts and the Navajo Nation Supreme Court. The Prosecutors are charged with prosecuting all violations of the Navajo Nation Criminal Code (Title 17) and certain criminal violations of the Navajo Nation Motor Vehicle Code (Title 14). The Juvenile Presenting Officers handle dependency matters pursuant to the Álchíní Bi Beehaz’áannii Act (the Nation’s Children’s Code). The Nation has twenty Prosecutor and Juvenile Presenting Officer positions. The Navajo-Hopi Legal Services Program is led by a Principal Attorney who manages one other attorney. The Program is located in Tuba City, Arizona, and is charged with representing individual Navajos who have applied for and been denied relocation assistance benefits by the Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation (ONHIR). NHLSP represents clients in administrative appeals before ONHIR and in APA appeals in the Federal District Court of Arizona.