During the formation of the Native American Rights Fund, a governing board was assembled composed of Indian leaders from across the country—wise and distinguished people who were respected by Indians nationwide. Since inception, the NARF Board of Directors has continued to provide the organization their leadership, wisdom, and vision.
Robert McGhee, Board Chairman; Poarch Band of Creek Indians
Robert McGhee, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, has been involved in and an advocate for Native American issues at all levels of government. Mr. McGhee is currently serving his fourth term on the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Council, in which he holds the position of Vice Chairman. In this capacity, Mr. McGhee is honored to represent his people “government-to-government” at the local, state, and federal levels regarding issues of education, health care, economic development and sovereign immunity. Prior to moving back to Atmore, Alabama, Robert McGhee worked in Washington, D.C., for approximately five years at the Department of Interior-Bureau of Indian Affairs, the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Troutman Sanders LLP-Indian Law Practice Group. Before accepting the position of Governmental Relations Advisor for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Mr. McGhee served in several capacities for the Tribe. He was employed by the Tribe as the Tribal Administrator, the governmental entity of the Tribe, and President of Creek Indian Enterprises, the Economic Development entity of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. During his tenure in DC and at the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Mr. McGhee has had the opportunity to serve on numerous White House Initiatives and boards. Currently he serves on the Board of the National Indian Child Welfare Board, Children First Alabama, is a member of the Secretary’s Health and Human Services Tribal Advisory Committee, and the Board of Advisors for the Center for Native American Youth.
(Spring 2014 – Spring 2020)
Kurt BlueDog, Board Vice-Chair; Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe
Kurt BlueDog, Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, has been in the active practice of federal Indian law for nearly 40 years almost exclusively on behalf of Indian tribal governments. Mr. BlueDog was born and raised on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota. After he graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1972, he served as a commissioned officer in the Army paratroopers. He graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Law in 1977 and is a member of the State Bars of Minnesota and Wisconsin, several tribal courts, the United States Supreme Court, and numerous federal, district, and appellate courts.
Early on in his legal career, Mr. BlueDog worked for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in Boulder, Colorado, as a staff attorney for approximately seven years. His experience at NARF involved extensive litigation experience in the areas of Indian education, economic development, tribal sovereignty, American Indian religious freedom, land rights, tribal recognition, corrections, and housing. Currently in his private practice, he is involved in litigation, administrative, and legislative activity representing tribal concerns. The emphasis of his practice has been in the area of tribal commercial law, corporate law, gaming, and economic development. He has represented many tribes over the years, to include service as General Counsel to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe (his tribe) for over twenty years.
Mr. BlueDog has served as an adjunct professor teaching federal Indian law at William Mitchell College of Law and the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. Additionally, he has served as the Chief Judge for the Fond du Lac Chippewa Tribal Court for 10 years and the Prairie Island Sioux Tribal Court for 11 years. For the past 15 years, he has served part-time as the Chief Judge for the Lower Sioux Indian Community.
In addition to his legal work, Mr. BlueDog has served on numerous boards and is currently serving on the Minnesota Historical Society Executive Board. He has served on the Executive Committee at the National Indian Gaming Association for over twenty years. He was recently named the Best Lawyer in the field of Native American law for the Minneapolis area. For the past fifteen years, he has been rated “AV Preeminent,” the highest possible peer review rating in legal ability and ethical standards by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory.
(Fall 2014 – Fall 2018)
Tex G. Hall, Board Treasurer; Three Affliated Tribes
Tex G. Hall, Three Affiliated Tribes, was the longest serving chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes. Mr. Hall has a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from the University of Mary, in Bismarck, North Dakota, and a Master of Education Administration degree from the University of South Dakota in Vermilion, South Dakota. Hall served two terms as president of the National Congress of American Indians, co-chair of the National Indian Education Task Force and chairman of the Great Plains Region Tribal Chairmen’s Association. He was appointed to the first tribal advisory committee ever established in the history of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to recommend and advise the secretary of the service. He initiated the Keepseagle class action lawsuit that brought a historic settlement of $760 million for Native American farmers and ranchers. In 2013, Mr. Hall was awarded the Wendell A. Chino Humanitarian Award from the National Indian Gaming Association.
(Spring 2013 – Spring 2019)
Michael Smith, Executive Committee Member; Chickasaw Nation
Michael Smith, Chickasaw Nation, serves as Court Advocate for the Chickasaw Nation Supreme Court and is a District Judge for the Sac and Fox Nation. He has a law practice in Norman, OK, with a general practice that concentrates in social security disability law, Indian law, criminal law and family law. In his court advocate capacity, he practices in areas of guardianship, juvenile matters, domestic matters, family law, and adoption. He also does consulting work on issues of tribal sovereignty, tribal courts, and commercial real estate. Judge Smith is an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma Law School teaching Tribal Courts and has been adjunct professor in the Native American Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma teaching Tribal Sovereignty. He has made presentations to bar associations and conferences nationwide. He joined the faculty at the National Judicial College in 2010. In 2012, Judge Smith traveled to Columbia University Law School to present and serve on a panel for colloquial on integrating Indian law into the courses at Rutgers, Columbia University, and Yale. Also in 2012, he presented Peacemaking and Native issues to students and faculty of Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO. Judge Smith assisted the Mohegan Nation with incorporating peacemaking into their court system and facilitated the Red Hook, NJ, court system’s use of peacemaking. Most recently, Judge Smith was a member of a Native American Law Student Association panel for the Federal Bar.
(Spring 2015 – Spring 2019)
Anita Mitchell, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
Anita Mitchell, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, is not only the youngest person to be elected to the Muckleshoot Tribal Council in many years, but she is also the tribe’s first attorney. She credits the honor of being elected to growing up in a large family and on the reservation because as one of the oldest granddaughters you learn to take charge of a situation. She then credits and links her academic success to the strength and compassion of all her past tribal leaders because without them the opportunity wouldn’t have been there.
Ms. Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington in 2010, where she double majored in American Indian Studies and Political Science and served as a Student Ambassador for the Office of Minority Affairs. She received her J.D. from Syracuse University College of law in 2013. While in law school, Anita served as the President of the Black Law Student Association, the NEBLSA Upstate NY Sub-Regional Director, and a student attorney for the Elders Law Clinic. Ms. Mitchell also spent a summer in Washington D.C. working as a legal intern at the EPA’s American Indian Environmental Office.
After graduating from law school, Ms. Mitchell moved back home and began working as a staff attorney for Muckleshoot. At Muckleshoot, she briefly worked in the areas of Family Law, Tribal Court jurisdiction, and administrative law before being elected to Council. She is admitted to practice law in Washington State. Ms. Mitchel is currently serving as a Muckleshoot Tribal Council member.
(Fall 2015 – Fall 2019)
Lacey A. Horn, Cherokee Nation
Lacey Horn, Cherokee Nation, has served as Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation since 2011. In that capacity, she manages the finances of the largest federally-recognized tribe in the United States. In 2015, Ms. Horn was appointed to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Tribal Advisory Committee. The Native American Finance Officers Association selected Ms. Horn as “Executive of the Year” in 2014 and she appeared in Oklahoma Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list in 2012. In 2017, she received the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Distinguished Alumni Awards for her achievements, outstanding character, and good citizenship.
Ms. Horn earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2004 and Master of Science in accounting in 2005 from SMU and began her career with Hunt Oil and KPMG Chicago as an auditor.
(Fall 2017 – Fall 2019)
Kenneth Kahn, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
Kenneth Kahn, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, was first elected to serve on the Business Committee of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians in March 2003. He was elected Tribal Chairman in April 2016.
He comes from a family that has a tradition of involvement in tribal politics. His grandmother, grandfather and father all served on the tribe’s Business Committee at one time. His mother currently serves on the tribe’s Education Committee.
Kenneth was employed by the Chumash Casino, where he worked in the auditing department.
He is interested in focusing his efforts on educating the tribe’s youth and also on instilling a renewed sense of pride in tribal membership.
(Fall 2017 – Fall 2019)
Camille K. Kalama, Native Hawaiian
Camille Kalama, Native Hawaiian, is a staff attorney with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC). Her family comes from Kailua, Oahu, and she now calls Waiawa Makai on Oahu her home. She attended the University of Hawai‘i and received a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and is a 2005 graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law. She joined NHLC in 2006 after clerking for one year at the Hawaii Supreme Court.
Ms. Kalama sees her work with NHLC to protect and preserve native rights and resources as her kuleana, or responsibility, as a Native Hawaiian. Her current case load includes representing clients seeking access to their kuleana lands, assisting kalo farmers in seeking waters to protect their traditional and customary rights as well as to protect and restore East Maui streams, protecting iwi kupuna, and assisting Department of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries in resolving various issues with the Department. She was involved in the Polynesian Voyaging Society and in 2001 was named NCAA Woman Athlete of the Year for the state of Hawaii.
(Fall 2017 – Fall 2019)
Rhonda Pitka, Athabascan/Inupiaq
Rhonda Pitka, Athabascan/Inupiaq, has served as the First Chief of the Beaver Village Council in Alaska since 2011. Prior to her tenure as First Chief, she was a Tribal Administrator of the Beaver Village Council.
Ms. Pitka was a participant in a Native roundtable with President Barack Obama in 2015 where she emphasized the importance of hunting and fishing resources and tribal right tied to those resources. She seeks more tribal co-management projects and a meaningful voice in the subsistence management in Alaska.
Not surprisingly, Ms. Pitka was nominated by members of her community and recognized in 2016 by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development with a “Native American 40 under 40” award for her leadership, initiative and dedication to her community.
Ms Pitka is the former Chairwoman of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments, where she facilitated the monthly meetings of and advocated for the ten tribal governments of the Yukon Flats.
(Fall 2017 – Fall 2019)
Rebecca Miles, Nez Perce Tribe
Rebecca Miles, Nez Perce Tribe, has served in several leadership positions on behalf of the Nez Perce Tribe including General Council Chairman for four terms, which preceded a successful campaign for an elected position on the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, where she served as the first woman Chairman for two terms. Since 2009, she has served as Executive Director where she provides executive level management, policy recommendations, and strategic guidance for the Tribe.
Ms. Miles has testified in both the United States Congress and the Idaho State Legislature regarding natural resources, endangered species, and treaty rights issues. She was the lead negotiator for the 2009 Federal Columbia River Power System Accords. With her strengths and background in leadership, negotiation, and communication, Ms. Miles has spent most of her adult life advocating for Indian rights.
Ms. Miles has a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Washington State University and a M.A. in Professional Studies – Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.
(Winter 2018 – Winter 2020)
MaryAnn K. Johnson, Portage Creek
MaryAnn K. Johnson, Portage Creek, is the Tribal Administrator for the Bristol Bay Native Association and the Treasurer for both the the Portage Creek Village Council and the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, the first tribally-chartered consortium in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska. Ms. Johnson also serves on the boards of the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation and the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation.
As treasurer for the Portage Creek Village Council, Ms. Johnson seeks to revitalize the council for the benefit of tribal members and the village. She believes that her activism is about sharing the Native Alaskan story as her ancestors once passed on tribal traditions.
(Spring 2018 – Spring 2020)
Robert Miguel, Ak-Chin Indian Community
Robert Miguel, Ak-Chin Indian Community, is the Chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community in Maricopa, Arizona.
He has served on the Ak-Chin Tribal Council since 2014 and was first elected as Chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community in 2016. Before serving on the Tribal Council, Chairman Miguel had an almost 30-year career working in various capacities within his Tribe. This includes working with Ak-Chin Farms, as the Director of the Ak-Chin Department of Parks and Recreation and most recently a 17-year stint as a photojournalist for the Tribe’s media publication, the O’odham Runner.
As Chairman and a Council Member, Robert Miguel has focused his energies on expanding educational opportunities for Tribal members, increasing services to the Tribe’s special needs community, and promoting healthy lifestyles for Community members through wellness and recreation programs.
Chairman Miguel also has been a champion of growing and nurturing the Community’s cultural and traditional practices. Chairman Miguel lives on the Ak-Chin Indian Community reservation with his wife Connie and has seven children Robert, Jasmine, Yasmin, Jordyn, Joe, Yvonne and Stella.
Chairman Miguel continues a legacy of service on the Ak-Chin Indian Community Tribal Council, following in his maternal grandfather Jonas Miguel’s footsteps who previously served as Chairman in the early 1970’s.
(Spring 2018 – Spring 2020)
Derek Valdo, Pueblo of Acoma
Derek Valdo, Pueblo of Acoma,
Since 2005, Mr. Valdo has served as a councilman for his tribe, the Pueblo of Acoma, and continues to fulfill his appointment. In addition, he also participates on the Acoma Business Enterprises Board of Directors, the National Indian Child Welfare Association Board of Directors, and the Notah Begay III Foundation Board of Directors.
In 2012, Mr. Valdo became the Chief Executive Officer of AMERIND Risk, the only 100 percent tribally-owned and operated insurance company, that provides property, liability, workers compensation and employee benefits. Mr. Valdo led AMERIND Risk to its best five years of financial performance.
Mr. Valdo’s numerous accolades reflect his vision and leadership. Mr. Valdo has been named to Indian Country Media Network’s esteemed list of 50 Faces of Indian Country, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s 40 Under 40, and among Albuquerque Business First’s Top 10 CEOs. Mr. Valdo attended Stanford University and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics with a minor in Management cum laude from the University of New Mexico.
(Spring 2018 – Spring 2020)
- Recent Board Meeting Minutes