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A Tribute to Judge Huerta
by Israel Rubin
According to Jewish tradition, there are always thirty-six righteous men and women living among us whose noble deeds prevent the world from being destroyed. I believe that my brother, Larry Huerta, a Yaqui Native American, is one of those thirty-six women and men.
I have known Larry for more than thirty years and slowly many of his good works have surfaced. As a result of his modesty, many of his heartfelt deeds may never be known. It was a daunting challenge for him in his time to be the first Native American to attend and graduate from the University of Arizona School of Law. What was a Yaqui Indian doing at our Law School a half century ago? Perhaps his most lasting contribution was making certain that disabled miners and their families received the benefits due to them. On an individual and personal level, he traveled to the hinterlands of Mexico to seek out the widows of miners who were unjustly denied compensation. Another story relates how through his efforts, money was raised for a young mother who could not afford kidney dialysis treatment.
I was always fascinated by the diversity of his efforts to help others. My friend, Judge Huerta, was the first Native American to be a member of Arizona's powerful industrial commission. When his Indian brothers needed him, he accepted the role of Chancellor of the newly created Navajo Community College (now known as Diné College). In the Tucson area he played a pivotal role in obtaining land and federal benefits for the Yaqui Tribe.
Larry is also responsible for the discovery, preservation and dedication of the Jewish Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona. Larry continues to touch many people by just being Larry. It would not take too long after meeting him to learn about the values and culture of the Native Americans and how we all could benefit from their teachings. The only negative thing I ever heard Larry express was his frustration and anger with religious missionaries who were and still are zealous in their on-going need to destroy Native American culture. But that is another story.
On a personal note, Judge Huerta became and remains one of my very best friends ... We are truly brothers by choice.
Israel Rubin, Tucson, Arizona, December 23, 1999
Read "Alava Shalom, Brother Rubin," Judge Huerta's remarks at a memorial service to Israel Rubin, January 14, 2001.