Madness March, Round 2 (3/22/2018) — Eliza “Lyda” Burton Conley v. Catherine Cortez Masto

Today’s Round 2 match-up is between Eliza “Lyda” Burton Conley and Catherine Cortez Masto. Which woman inspires you the most? You can vote by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk.  Happy voting!

Image via Wikipedia.

Eliza “Lyda” Burton Conley-“One hundred thousand dollars would be no inducement whatever in buying my consent to the desecration of the graves of my parents.”

Lyda Conley was the first Native American woman lawyer in the United States when she was admitted to the Missouri State Bar in 1902. She was a member of the Wyandot tribe and best known for her active defense of the Huron Place Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas. The Cemetery was guaranteed by an 1855 treaty because it was the burial grounds for many Wyandot members but Congress approved the sale and removal of the bodies in the Cemetery for commercial use in 1906. Lyda filed suit to stop the sale and she and her sisters guarded the cemetery with weapons constantly. She took her case to the U.S Supreme Court, and was the first person to argue that the government owed protection to the burial grounds of Native Americans. Although the Court ruled against her, the land was never actually sold as there were no buyers willing to take it due to Lyda’s work to turn the public against the sale. Now the land is an historic landmark and Lyda herself is buried there.

Masto (1)
Image via Wikipedia.

Catherine Marie Cortez-“For most women, running for office starts with a passion for an issue you care about. For me, it’s always been about human rights, domestic-violence prevention, juvenile-justice reform, sexual-assault prevention.”

Catherine was born into a family that encouraged and participated in local politics. Her father was a County Commissioner and also an attorney for a county in Nevada. Additionally, her family had ties with long time senators and the family encouraged Catherine’s education. She received her B.A and J.D before spending time as a civil attorney for Las Vegas and then a criminal prosecutor in Washington D.C. In 2009, she was named Nevada’s Attorney General and she spent that time working to ensure she argued for Nevada’s laws, even when she did not actually agree with them. In 2014, long time Senator from Nevada Harry Reid, who was also a family friend of Catherine’s, endorsed her as his replacement for Senator. Her campaign and subsequent platform in the Senate heavily focuses on renewable energy resources, women’s rights, and pro-choice rhetoric. She took office in January of 2017, becoming the first Latina in the United States Senate.

Disclaimer: This is a friendly competition that is meant to increase awareness about some amazing women. The match ups were determined by a random outcome generator, and the winner will be determined based solely on the votes submitted by the participants. We are in no way seeking to pit one woman against each other in any inappropriate way, because each woman is inspiring in her own right.

Author: Alyson Drake

Alyson Drake is the Assistant Director for Public Services and the Director of the Excellence in Legal Research Program at Texas Tech University Law School, where she also teaches courses in Texas Legal Research, and Foreign, Comparative, and International Legal Research and administers the Legal Practice Program's research workshops. She blogs at

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