Our wide-ranging conversation touched on two issues that I am still thinking about several days later. First, we discussed the need to be vulnerable to learn language and/or culture. I think it is a common experience that people our age grew up afraid to admit we didn’t know as much language as others, or we were worried about making mistakes. The alternative is to avoid it and avoid that experience. We need to foster environments that encourage learning and make it easier to be uncomfortable and make mistakes. As a new parent, I am thinking about how to teach my child about who we are, and that requires me learning even more along the way, too. Continue reading →
“If you want to do great things, then you should concentrate not on what you want tobebut on what you want todo. You don’t have tobeanything specific thing to impact issues you care about…[assess] those things you want to impact, and then go do it.”-Keith Harper
“Look for those opportunities that may not be obvious to you.”-Gabe Galanda
Gabe Galanda is part of the growing fight against disenrollment.
Gabe Galanda is a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Galanda is also a partner at the law firm Galanda Broadman. He joined NextGen Native previously to share his personal journey. If you haven’t heard his story, I recommend listening to his personal journey. It’s a perfect example of how one can overcome challenges to succeed in your own personal way, at a high level. His personal journey is prologue to his work for clients facing disenrollment.
Through his law practice, Galanda emerged as one of the most vocal critics of disenrollment. For several years, he has represented clients fighting disenrollment. During that time he experienced many trying moments and challenges in his fight for his clients. At the time, not many people in Indian Country were openly discussing disenrollment, let alone fighting against the movement. But the tide may be turning. We spoke not too long after a #stopdisenrollment day of action and also following the decision by the tribal council for the Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians to re-enroll members that were previously disenrolled. Now, you’re seeing people speaking out against disenrollment, and taking action against it, in larger numbers. Much of that can be attributed to the work of Galanda and others who took on the fight several years ago. Continue reading →
Charles Galbraith: “We’ve been conditioned to think that we have to compete with each other…which is not the case.”
Charles Galbraith is Navajo. Currently, Charles (aka Charlie) is Counsel atKilpatrick TownsendLaw Firm. Previously, Charlie spent several years working at the White House for President Obama and before that he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney and a staffer in theU.S. Senate.
Charlie grew up in Phoenix. His parents both prioritized education and so Charlie knew at a young age he’d go to college. He ended up playing baseball and studying at theUniversity of Chicago.
Charles Galbraith, Navajo
His baseball playing taught him endurance and the knowledge that not everything would break his way in life. It taught him how to dig in for the long haul, and how to keep a cooler head when things weren’t going his way. These two lessons would suit him very well in his career.
Brian is someone you can learn much from. In addition to being a lawyer that has taken on several large cases and initiatives as part of his work in Indian Country, he is low key and always maintains his sense of humor.
Brian discussed how his general low key demeanor has positively impacted his clients’ cases. It reminded me of the saying “you can shear a sheep many times, but you can only skin it once.”
Brian grew up in Omak, Washington. He attended Washington State University. He served on the school’s newspaper and as part of his work, he decided to reach out to Bill Kunstler for an interview. To his surprise, the well known civil rights attorney agreed to speak with Brian for 45 minutes or so. The conversation sparked his interest in the law. This is one of the best nuggets of information from our conversation. Brian’s story demonstrates that it’s usually worth the effort to email someone, approach them at a conference or connect via social media. Nine times out of ten you may hear nothing back, but occasionally you will connect and the encounter can change your path or theirs, and that’s worth it.Continue reading →
I worked with Lance and his company in my last job and had the chance to get to hear his story a bit as he told the story of Ho Chunk Inc. The two are intertwined.
After studying economics and earning a law degree (official bio below), Lance moved back to his tribe and within a few years, started to implement the idea he had been tinkering with to create a tribally owned company. It’s a bit crazy now to think that not too long ago, this was a revolutionary idea.
Lance grew with the company, and it’s currently generating about $250 million in revenue. It’s a shining success in Indian Country. And not just because of how much it earns, but what it does with its profits, creating housing on the reservation, running a used car company to help tribal members build credit.
Let me restate that: Dean Leeds is a Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law.
photo courtesy of Stacy Leeds
I am excited to get this conversation on the record to share, because Stacy is one of Indian Country’s shining stars.
Stacy is from Muskogee, Oklahoma. She was active in sports, excelling in basketball. Eventually she played small forward at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. She was not familiar with the school’s prestige when the school contacted her initially, she decided to attend because it was where she could play ball.
This is a familiar theme in Stacy’s life, jumping into something full steam ahead. I’ve always found, despite my desire to learn as much as I can about an issue, the best way to do things is to dive in. Because when you dive into something you cannot allow yourself to get in your own way.
Her next stop was at the University of Kansas teaching as part of the Indigenous Studies program. Here she was able to take on an interim role as Dean. It was here where she realized that she could take on this role. Soon after, she was presented an opportunity to apply for the Dean position at Arkansas.
One of my favorite parts of the conversation was listening to Dean Leeds discuss her recent experience as a participant in the Remember the Removal ride.
In this episode, we discuss:
The challenge of choosing between two good options.
Finding the Native community regardless of where you live.
Getting burned out, and taking care of yourself to prevent it.
The importance of relationships in Indian Country, law, and beyond.
The power of relativity and connection.
Working “in” Indian Country, and what does it mean when opportunities arise to work beyond Indian Country exclusively.
The phone call she got when she was offered the Dean position.
“What do [you] feel you are good at and feel you can contribute to your community?”
When I spoke to Kayla Gebeck, the thing that jumped out at me was her enthusiasm to try new things, start new adventures, with the goal of preserving her language. After not traveling far beyond the upper Midwest, Kayla traveled to a Pueblo, then to Hawaii, and ultimately to New Zealand. Her goal was to learn how different communities were working to to preserve their languages.So while she was able to explore personally, and expand her horizons, the skills she was learning would help future Ojibwe speakers.
Before it was over, Kayla studied in London and was able to connect the work people do in developing countries and relate that to Indian Country and visa versa. We talked about making connections outside of Indian Country and how these connections can create lasting ripples of interest or awareness with Indian Country.
Kayla’s story is really interesting to see all that she’s been able to accomplish already. And more importantly, that her community is the driving force for her work.
Kayla Gebeck is a public affairs advisor at Holland & Knight’s Washington, D.C., office and a member of the firm’s Native American Law Practice Group. Ms. Gebeck provides assistance to tribal governments and their enterprises on legislative and regulatory matters. Her areas of focus include education, healthcare, housing, social services, natural resources, environment, self-governance, trust land and federal relations.
Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Ms. Gebeck served as a policy analyst for the Native American Finance Officers Association. In this position, Ms. Gebeck advocated the views and concerns of tribal governments in the areas of access to capital, tax and finance policy, in addition to preparing reports and broadcasts that alerted tribal members on new guidance and/or legislation affecting their governments and enterprises.
While attending the University of London, Ms. Gebeck served as a photographer for the Global Coordinating Group Indigenous Media Team, which covered the preparatory meeting for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in Alta, Norway, and conducted research for Legal Action Worldwide in an effort to build the legal capacity of conflict-affected governments.
Vernon Miller is Chairman of the Omaha Nation. Recently, the nation has been in the news as it successfully defended its sovereignty before the Supreme Court in the case Nebraska v. Parker. In this episode, we discuss the background of the case, the strategy put together for the case, and the impact the case will have on his own nation, across Indian Country and on the Chairman’s leadership experience.
Vernon Miller, Chairman of the Omaha Nation
In recent years, Indian Country has been timid to bring cases to the Supreme Court because it has been viewed as an unfavorable, perhaps unknowledgeable, about Indian law. But this case turned out very different. The recent decision ruled in favor of the tribe. Unanimously. It was an important victory for the Omaha Nation and for all tribes.
This is a great episode for people that want to learn more about current issues, but may not be a lawyer (like me). Continue reading →
Nikke Alex is Dine. It was awesome to get to speak with another former WINS intern on the podcast, and to see what all of us are doing TEN YEARS LATER! She is currently a third-year law student at the University of New Mexico. She is also a self-described nerd. And when you listen to her story, you understand that it is an awesome/honest assessment! Continue reading →