Pat Smith holds an undergraduate degree in history and political science and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Montana. His law practice specialized in Indian law where he represented Indian tribes for 31 years, based out of Montana. In 2013, he was appointed by Montana Governor Steve Bullock to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and also to represent Montana on the Columbia River Treaty’s Sovereign Review Team. He has also served: on the 2010 Montana Redistricting Commission as an appointee of the Democratic leader of the Montana Senate; on the University of Montana School of Law’s Board of Visitors; and as Chief Judge of the Appellate Court of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. He is an enrolled member of the Assiniboine Tribe on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, where his family has operated a wheat farm. He and his wife Michelle live near Missoula, Montana.
Montana Duke Wilson, 29, is a Two-Spirit Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, and Sioux from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Currently, Wilson is a Juris Doctor Candidate at the University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law as a Blewett Scholar. He holds a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge with the highest academic honor—Gates-Cambridge Scholar, which fully funded his master’s work in England. During his master’s program, Wilson developed a strategic plan that would use tribal courts to restore our language and culture, while deescalating violence on Indian Reservations, and securing transactions to promote economic growth on our Reservations.
Wilson holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics, highest honors, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, highest honors, and an Honors Baccalaureate Degree of Summa Cum Laude from Montana State University Bozeman, with the top Montana State Honor—Award for Excellence. Wilson is an alumnus of the Semester at Sea Program, which is an undergraduate program that focuses on cultural comparison coursework in various countries around the world while on the MV Explorer cruise ship. Most notably, Wilson circumnavigated the globe on board the MV Explorer, which allowed him to study in 14 countries. The Gates Millennium Scholarship, Udall Foundation Scholarship (tribal public policy), and Fort Belknap Higher Education Program fully funded Wilson’s undergraduate education. Wilson has extensive experience with tribal governments. He has served the Fort Peck Tribes as a law clerk, criminal prosecutor, and public defender, where he implemented restorative justice practices during his tenure. Additionally, Wilson has served as the American Indian Council President, Montana 4-H President, and Montana 4-H Foundation Board of Directors. Wilson is excited to join Western Native Voice on the Board of Directors and looks forward to furthering our organization’s mission, especially increasing voter turnout in Indian Country.
Kekek is a former president of the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, a Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow and alumnus of Hamline University School of Law.
Kekek is Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, member of the Bizhiw (Lynx) Clan and a practitioner of Indigenous law. Kekek has first-hand experience in training students in how to work productively with Indigenous principles and procedures. He has built institutions grounded in Anishinaabe law and helped students and communities forge better relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous institutions and peoples.
Kekek joined the Alexander Blewett III School of Law faculty in the summer of 2020 as an assistant professor. Kekek has also worked as an assistant professor with the American Indian Studies Department at the University of Minnesota – Duluth as well as an adjunct faculty member at several institutions. He has taught courses in federal Indian law, tribal law, tribal natural resources law, Tribal government, Tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, Indian Child Welfare, and American Indian diplomacy.
In addition to his teaching experience, Kekek served as the Attorney General for the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, as a policy analyst in the Division of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and as policy analyst for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
Kekek’s research interests include the Anishinaabe legal order as well as Treaty reserved rights, Federal Indian law, Anishinaabe diplomacy and tribal law based upon traditional knowledge and traditional stories.
James Steele, Jr holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Montana. He served on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council from 2004 to 2012 and again in 2017. In January of 2006, he was elected Tribal Council Chairman and was re-elected in 2007 and he served a total of 9 years on the tribal council representing the Arlee and St Ignatius districts. He has served on many nonprofit boards, state, and tribal policy boards. He currently serves as the Vice President of the Montana Budget Policy Center Board and is a board member of Energy Keepers Inc. He is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation. He lives on his family’s ranch in St. Ignatius, Montana.
Lea is currently working for the Blackfeet Planning & Development Office and is a Montana State Senator for Senate District 8, and also formerly served in the Montana House of Representatives. She has been involved in education and worked on conservation issues for over 20 years. She was raised on the Blackfeet reservation and has resided there all her life. She has 3 children; one in college, her oldest son works for a livestock feed company, and the youngest is in middle school.
Jason Smith has spent his career in public service working to ensure that the voices and values of Tribal communities are included in policy conversations throughout the state. He has served his community in many different roles working to build tribal economies on reservations and uphold tribal sovereignty through government to government engagement for the Chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and as Director of Indian Affairs for Governor Steve Bullock. He is currently working to expand access to culturally appropriate health care as Director of the Montana Consortium for Urban Indian Health.
Possessing an extensive career in education and politics, Norma’s experience includes service as a State Representative from 2000-2008; Chair of the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education; and Chair of the Montana Committee on Civil Rights. Norma has a M.A. in Education from the University of New Mexico. Norma is currently the Director of Tribal Education for the Northern Cheyenne tribe.
Bobbi J. Favel, J.D., is an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in north-central Montana. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Montana School of Law and her undergraduate degree in Forest Resource Management from the University of Montana. Bobbi is also a proud alumnus of Stone Child College, located on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
She currently works with the Chippewa Cree Tribe as the Director of Natural Resources. Bobbi has held many influential positions within her tribe, from Risk Management to Transportation to Compliance. Bobbi believes strongly in promoting sustainability and transparency within her department to ensure that her tribe will prosper through economic development and self-sufficiency with the resources she manages.
Bobbi has been an influential and involved figure in her community. She encourages youth to pursue their dreams of higher education or whatever career opportunities they follow. Bobbi has held many prestigious positions outside the tribe and serves on numerous boards and committees. She has a consulting business versed in grant writing, policy development, contract development, and programmatic assessments. She is also a tribal judge in numerous tribal courts.
Bobbi enjoys many activities outside of work, such as traveling, gardening, and spending time with her family, especially activities with her 6-year-old daughter Kamiya and her mini-schnauzer Hobart.