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.
Moses K. N. Haia III, Board Chairman, Native Hawaiian
Moses K. N. Haia III, Board Chairman, Native Hawaiian, is the Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC), a private, non-profit, public interest law firm. NHLC asserts, protects and defends Native Hawaiian rights to land, natural resources, and related entitlements. Moses is a 1994 graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii. Prior to joining NHLC in 2001 as a staff attorney, Moses was in private practice where his work was focused on labor and employment law, civil litigation and Native Hawaiian rights. As a staff attorney with NHLC from 2001 through 2009, Moses was involved in a number of native rights cases dealing with the protection and preservation of traditional and customary native Hawaiian subsistence, religious and cultural practices, and the state and county governments’ trust duties related thereto. In 2007, he was recognized by a major Honolulu daily newspaper as one of “10 Who Made A Difference” for his work related to the protection and preservation of historic and cultural properties. Moses has been a Board member of the Native Hawaiian Advisory Council and the Native Hawaiian Bar Association. He has published numerous articles on Native Hawaiian history, culture and water rights. (Fall 2011 – Fall 2017)
Robert McGhee, Board Vice-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 third term on the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Council, in which he holds the position of Treasurer. 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 Tribe’s Governmental Affairs/Rules Legislative Committee, the Budget/Finance Committee, the Board of Directors for United South and Eastern Tribes, is a member of Secretary Sebelius’ Health and Human Services Tribal Advisory Committee and was recently appointed to the Board of Advisors for the Center for Native American Youth. Civically, he has served as the Vice President of the Atmore Chamber of Commerce and the Vice Chairman of the Episcopal Council of Indigenous Ministries. (Spring 2014 – Spring 2018)
Tex G. Hall, Board Treasurer, Three Affliated Tribes
Tex G. Hall, Board Treasurer, Three Affiliated Tribes, was the longest serving chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes. 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, he was awarded the Wendell A. Chino Humanitarian Award from the National Indian Gaming Association. (Spring 2013 – Spring 2019)
Larry Olinger, Executive Committee Member, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
Larry Olinger, Executive Committee Member, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, is the vice chairman of the Agua Caliente Band located in Palm Springs, California, and was elected to the Native American Rights Fund Board of Directors in November 2013. Larry has always been interested in tribal activities and service. He was first elected to the Tribal Council in 1961, subsequently served as Secretary/Treasurer in 1969 and served as Chairman of the Tribal Council in 1970-71. He has been the Vice Chairman since 2012. Larry has also served on numerous tribal boards and was the first Chairman of the Agua Caliente Development Authority when it was established in 1989. He currently serves on the State of California Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy which works to protect the natural and cultural resources of the Coachella Valley. In 1988, Mr. Olinger was responsible for the enactment of federal legislation that exempts from taxation the proceeds of investment income related to Native American land taken by eminent domain for public purposes. He spent his professional career working in the defense industry, specializing in test equipment for the Polaris submarine. He has an AA degree from Long Beach City College and attended the University of California Riverside. He also spent many years breeding and racing thoroughbred horses. (Fall 2013 – Fall 2017)
Stephen R. Lewis, Alternate Executive Committee Member, Gila River Indian Community
Stephen R. Lewis, Alternate Executive Committee Member, Gila River Indian Community, graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelors of Science degree and pursued graduate studies at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Mr. Lewis has long been an advocate for Native American issues nationally and locally. Stephen has served the Community as a Gaming Commissioner for the Gila River Gaming Commission, as a member of the Board of Directors for the Gila River Telecommunications, Inc., and most recently, as member of the Board of Directors for the Gila River Healthcare Corporation. In the area of Indian education, he was selected to serve as a Board member for the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), and a delegate to the White House Conference on Indian Education. Stephen was also selected to the National Indian Gaming Commission’s Task Force on Minimum Internal Controls for Indian Country, served as a trainer for the National Indian Gaming Association, and served as a teaching assistant for the National Judicial College’s Tribal Commissioner Training. In the area of mass media, he organized and staged the first ever showing of Native films and documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and was an associate producer for the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed six-part documentary, “The Native Americans.” Currently, Stephen serves on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Action Alliance, a non-profit organization working to improve children’s health, education, and security through advocacy.
Kurt BlueDog, Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe
Kurt BlueDog has been in the active practice of federal Indian law for nearly 40 years almost exclusively on behalf of Indian tribal governments. Kurt 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, Kurt 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.
Kurt 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, Kurt 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 (NIGA) 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, Kurt 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)
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.
Anita 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. Anita 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, Anita moved back home and began working as a staff attorney for Muckleshoot. At Muckleshoot, Anita 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. Anita Mitchel is currently serving as a Muckleshoot Tribal Council member. (Fall 2015 – Fall 2019)
Gary Hayes, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
Gary Hayes, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, is an enrolled member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and currently serves as the Chairman. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is located in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, comprising over 600,000 acres, with its government seat in Towaoc, Colorado. The Tribe’s membership is 2,085 and is governed by a Tribal Council consisting of seven elected officials. The Tribe’s enterprises include a casino, hotel, two travel centers, a construction company, a farm and ranch and a pottery factory. All the tribal enterprises serve to support the tribal government and fulfill public purposes, but more importantly to provide the quality of life to its membership. The Tribe also has significant coal, gas and oil reserves, and has secured substantial water rights. In December 2005, Gary retired from the United States Navy after serving 25 years. He served 11 years of sea time on board aircraft carriers, USS CONSTELLATION, USS KITTY HAWK, USS RANGER, USS INDEPENDENCE, Attach Fighter Squadron (VFA-151) embarked on board the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN and served on Staff with Commander, Carrier Group One. His shore tours included Naval Supply Depot, Naval Station Subic Bay, Republic of Philippines, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, and Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Italy. In January 2006, Gary returned back home and was elected into the Tribal Council for an eight month term. In October 2006, he was re-elected for a three year term and was elected as Tribal Chairman in October 2010. He was appointed by the Tribal Council to serve on the following committees and organizations: Law Enforcement, Economic Development, Health Care, Tribal/Interior Budget Council, National Congress of American Indians, DOJ Tribal Nations Leadership Council, Albuquerque Area Health Board and HHS Secretary Tribal Advisory Committee. Gary has received numerous personal awards and military decorations, as well as a degree from Hawaii Pacific University. (Winter 2012 – Winter 2018)
Ch’aa Yaa Eesh (Richard Peterson) , Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes
Ch’aa Yaa Eesh (Richard Peterson) is Tlingit from the Kaagwaantaan Clan. Richard grew up in Kasaan, Alaska, and is a life-long Alaska Native resident of Southeast Alaska. Prior to being elected as President of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Richard served as CEO of Prince of Wales Tribal Enterprise Consortium, LLC, President of the Organized Village of Kasaan (OVK), Mayor/City Council member for the City of Kasaan, and member of the Southeast Island School District Board of Education. He has been a delegate to the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida since 2000. (Fall 2014 – Fall 2018)
During his tenure with OVK, Richard fostered growth through innovative program and economic development, developing competent and reputable grant and fiscal management procedures. OVK’s annual budget increased from $13,000 to over $4 million dollars through widespread program development and a strategic pursuit of grant funding.
Richard has developed the skills necessary to effectively represent and communicate the needs of his Native people of Southeast Alaska. He is adept at negotiating and team building and has worked to continually build lasting relationships that prove to be mutually beneficial to all stakeholders. Richard believes in a proactive approach to achieve win-win scenarios and continues to shape the future of the economic and social well-being of tribal citizens through collaborative efforts and local economic development initiatives.
Richard has also served as 4th Vice President, Central Council Tlingit & Haida; 1st Vice President, Central Council Tlingit & Haida; Board Member of RuralCAP; 3rd Vice President, Central Council Tlingit & Haida; and, Board Member, Gulf of Alaska Coastal Communities Coalition. He also served as Director of Economic Development, Organized Village of Kasaan, and Tribal Administrator, Organized Village of Kasaan.
Peter M. Pino, Pueblo of Zia
Peter M. Pino, Pueblo of Zia, Tribal Administrator and Treasurer for the Zia Pueblo of New Mexico since 1978, received a Bachelor of Arts from New Mexico Highlands University in 1970 and an M.B.A. from the University of New Mexico in 1975. Peter is tasked with the administration of all Tribal, State, and federal projects and programs. He coordinates community development projects from concept to completion; establishes management systems for the Pueblo; and is the Tribal Liaison between other Pueblos, State of New Mexico, federal agencies and commercial business firms. Peter also establishes and implements Pueblo investment policies and administers the Pueblo Tax Ordinance. Peter has been a Tribal Council member since 1967 and is currently a Board member of the Greater Sandoval County Chamber of Commerce. He has been a Board member of Futures for Children; Board of Commissioners for the New Mexico Game and Fish Department; Board member of the Mesa Verde Foundation; Board member of the Crow Canyon Archeological Center; Chairman and Board member of Education Funds, Inc.; and Vice- Chairman, Board of Commissioners, State of New Mexico Office of Indian Affairs. (Spring 2012 – Spring 2018)
Julie Roberts-Hyslop, Native Village of Tanana
Julie Roberts-Hyslop, Native Village of Tanana, was born and raised in Tanana Alaska, graduated from Tanana High School in 1973 as valedictorian and attended Sheldon Jackson Jr. College in Sitka, Alaska. Julie also attended University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She has been employed as a heavy duty mechanic for four years in Prudhoe Bay for Atlantic Richfield. She also worked for the Village Corporation for 10 years as a Land and Office Manager and was employed by the Tanana Tribal Council for 10 years as the Executive Director. She then worked as a truck driver for the Teamsters Union for 3 years and is currently employed as a housekeeper for the Tanana Elders Residence and the Clinic. Julie currently serves as President of the Native Village of Tanana and has been on the Tanana Chiefs Conference Board of Directors for the past five years. She also served on the local school board for over 10 years as well as the Head Start Committee, Tanana City Council, the Village Corporation Board Tozitna Limited, Alaska Federation Board, and Yukon River Panel, an international board that addresses Yukon River Salmon. (Fall 2011 – Fall 2017)
Michael Smith, 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. Michael 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, Michael 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)
Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw Nation
Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw Nation, is the Lieutenant Governor of the Chickasaw Nation and is a retired U.S. Army officer with over 20 years active duty service. His combat experience included three years service in Viet Nam as an Infantryman, where he received the Bronze Star with “V” for valor, two purple hearts and numerous other awards and decorations for heroism. Lt. Governor Keel has always proven himself as an effective leader. He is a former Airborne Ranger, and served as an instructor in the elite US Army Rangers. As an Infantry platoon sergeant and platoon leader, he gained valuable and extensive leadership and management experience.
Lt. Governor Keel has a Bachelors degree from East Central University and a Master of Science degree from Troy University. He also completed post graduate studies at East Central and East Texas Universities. He has management experience in the private sector and tribal programs and operations. He is extremely proud of his Native American heritage and often assists other tribes and groups in cultural and historic preservation activities. Lt. Governor Keel is firmly committed to the service of Indian people and actively supports their desire to become self-reliant. The welfare of the Chickasaw people is his first priority. He is keenly aware of the roles and responsibilities expected of tribal leaders and earnestly believes in the policy of “helping our people through honorable public service.”
A highly respected tribal leader, Lt. Governor Keel served two terms as the President of the National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s oldest and largest tribal organization. He was appointed by Senator Harry Reid to serve as a Commissioner on the Tribal Law and Order Commission. He serves as Chair for the Tribal Interior Budget Committee, serves on the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee, the Indian Health Service (IHS) Advisory committee, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Tribal Consultation Advisory Committee.
Lt. Governor Keel also serves on the Board of Regents for Bacone College, East Central University the Foundation Board of Directors, the Self-Governance Advisory Committee, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association Board of Directors. He is a Master Mason, a graduate of Leadership Ada and active in his church and the community. Lt. Governor Keel and his wife, Carol, have three children and eight grandchildren. (Fall 2015 – Fall 2017)
- Recent Board Meeting Minutes