Gloria J. Kindig

Areas of Achievement: 

Honored By

Honored by: Friends & Colleagues
Date submitted: May 14, 2008
Gift: Arch with Seating

Women Lawyers ~ Women Leaders Arch

Gloria Kindig took an unconventional path to reach her achievements in the law. Born in Cortez, Colorado in 1951, she grew up and finished high school in Grants, New Mexico. While growing up, she worked in the carrot and onions fields as a migrant worker. Her father worked in the uranium mines, which later contributed to her interest in mining. Although Kindig grew up underprivileged, she never considered herself poor. In 1973, Kindig graduated from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Engineering. After graduation, she worked at uranium mines in Wyoming. At the time, not a lot of women worked as mining engineers, and usually Kindig was the only female on a project. She did her job well, treated everyone with respect and, in turn, her coworkers treated her with respect. Kindig worked as a mining engineer for about 11 years. When a downturn in the uranium business occurred, she volunteered to be next in the cutbacks because she knew that she would not be impacted as much as her coworkers who had families.

While Kindig was not working, she then decided to go to law school one day. The idea just came to her, despite the fact that she did not have any lawyers or judges in her family and did not know how the law school application process worked. When she met with law school administrators, she thought that she was interviewing the schools, but later she realized that the administrators were interviewing her to see if they would let her go to their law school. Due to the several Native American students who actively recruited her, she decided on attending Arizona State University.

Kindig received her law degree in 1989. While in law school, she clerked with the Navajo Supreme Court and Arizona Court of Appeals. She was one of the first law students to act as a law clerk for the Navajo Supreme Court. She found law school challenging, but did her best to adapt. Furthermore, she and another classmate were instrumental in developing the Indian Law Program at the law school. When they decided to start the program, they applied for grants and wrote proposals, for which they received support from law professors and the faculty committee.

After graduation, Kindig began her legal career in the Navajo County Attorney's Office as a Deputy County Prosecutor. She enjoyed working on cases from beginning to end, where she decided the charges and took it to trial if needed. After working for the Navajo County Attorney's Office for about eleven months, she then became Assistant General Counsel to the Hopi Tribe. In 1994, Kindig was appointed Chief Judge for the Hopi Tribe. While serving as Chief Judge, Kindig oversaw the modernization and expansion of the court system and building.

In 1996, Kindig became the first Native American to be elected to the Superior Court in Arizona. She ran for the position, despite being told that as a Native American, she could never win an at-large election. She believed that one 'can't say that it can't happen until someone tries.' Not only did she win the election, but also she was re-elected to the position in 2000. While a Superior Court judge, she took great care to pay attention to each case, even though judges generally have a large caseload. She believed that the process should not be artificially moved faster at the expense of the defendant because someone's life is at stake. After serving two terms, Kindig retired in 2004. She currently serves as a pro tem judge for the tribal courts.

Despite all of her achievements, Kindig remains humble. Kindig considers her work with the Indian Law Program at ASU as her biggest contribution to the State of Arizona because it has endured and has provided opportunities for a lot of people. Kindig does not feel like she has made giant achievements, but was just fortunate that she had a lot of opportunities available to her. Although she did not have a lifelong plan to be a lawyer or judge, she is pleased that her life took that course.