Melina Angelos Healey

  • Hosted by Center for the Human Rights of Children
  • Sponsored by Albert & Anne Mansfield Foundation
  • Service location Buffalo, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations, Trafficking/Slavery
  • Fellowship class year 2016
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Legal services and support for Native people, particularly those who have been alienated from their tribal communities due to relocation and incarceration, are sharply limited, and no specialized legal services exist for this population. This means that many Native people cannot access their special protections for custody of their children; tribal benefits; and religious and cultural services.

Melina represented Native American survivors of trauma in a variety of legal settings.  She created a legal and social services program in Chicago for Native people who have been sexually exploited and supported tribes in building legislation and policies to combat this exploitation.  Melina also challenged racially discriminatory practices in public schools and worked with incarcerated Native people to protect access to their tribal rights while in prison

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Melina has:

  • Represented over 200 incarcerated Native clients to get them enrolled in their tribes; restore their tribal benefits; get them access to religious and cultural services in prison; remedy medical and mental health services issues; obtain divorces; and take administrative action against prison officials for violating their rights.
  • Provided brief advice or services to 30 students and parents of students who were discriminated against in school or denied their special education benefits.
  • Designed a series of memos designed for incarcerated Native people to understand their rights.
  • Partnered with tribes to challenge racial discrimination by state agencies.
  • Trained dozens of tribal and other government leaders on legislative and policy strategies to prevent sex trafficking and other forms of exploitation on reservations.

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Melina plans to continue to represent incarcerated Native people in claims against prisons for violation of their religious rights.


Education Dept. To Probe Mont. Tribal Students' Bias Claims

U.S. to Investigate Discrimination Against Native Students on Montana Reservation

Education Department investigating alleged discrimination of Native American students in Montana

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