39th Public Land Law Conference — Sept. 30 through Oct. 1

The full agenda and registration link is available here, and below is a teaser about the panel themes and some of the speakers’ recent work. It is approved by Montana for CLE credit and credits may be available for other states too. Registration is free for those not seeking CLE credit.

Opening Night – Sept 30

Offering the opening poetry reading on Thursday is Heather Cahoon, PhD, an award-winning poet and Assistant Professor of Native American Studies & Director of the American Indian Governance & Policy Institute at the University of Montana. Take a listen to this incredible Montana Public Radio interview with Cahoon and then peruse her work, Horsefly Dress: Poems.

Danna Jackson will deliver the opening keynote address. She is Senior Counselor to the Director at the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management. Before receiving her appointment to the Department of Interior, Danna served as chief legal counsel to the State of Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation – the agency that manages Montana’s trust lands, waters, state forests, and conservation initiatives. She has spent the majority of her career in the public sector including as a federal prosecutor and a Hill staffer.

Day 2 Conference

Knowledge: Centering Tribes in Resource Management

Life: Defending the Right to Water

  • Bidtah Becker, Associate Attorney at the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and former Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources, recently co-authored this opinion piece in the Washington Post, highlighting federal obligations to invest in infrastructure to provide clean drinking water for tribal nations.
  • This winter, Jason Anthony Robison, Professor of Law at the University of Wyoming College of Law, and a national expert working at the intersection of water and Indian law, published this article with the Utah Law Review, Indigenizing Grand Canyon.
  • Dylan Hedden-Nicely, Associate Professor of Law & Director of the Native American Law Program at the University of Idaho College of Law, is well-known for his research and publications regarding the effect of climate change on Native American water rights.

Dr. Len Necefer, Founder of Natives Outdoors, will present the Midday Address on Friday. If you are a backcountry winter recreationist, you won’t want to miss Episode 17 of The Fifty Project, in which Dr. Necefer skins up Mt. Tukuhnikivatz with Cody Townsend to teach us about the cultural significance of this mountain to the Navajo Nation.

Voices: Amplifying the Next Generation of Environmental Advocacy in Climate Change

  • Nate Bellinger, Senior Staff Attorney at Our Children’s Trust, and Grace Gibson-Snyder, one of the Youth Plaintiffs in Held v. State of Montana, have exciting news to share: in a recent ruling, Judge Kathy Seeley ruled that the case can proceed to trial on the constitutionality of Montana’s fossil fuel energy policies and recognized that the youth plaintiffs are experiencing significant impacts from the climate crisis, including economic, cultural, physical, and mental health injuries. 
  • Jasilyn Charger, a Land Protector and speaker with Earth Guardians, is most well-known for their organizing at Standing Rock. Get to know Jasilyn before the conference by reading her story on Our Climate Voices.
  • Randall Abate, Professor & Rechnitz Family Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy at Monmouth University, spoke about his book, Climate Change and the Voiceless at a Spring 2020 conference.

Last, but not least: We’re very excited that Supaman, an award-winning Apsáalooke hip hop artist and fancy dancer, will be offering the Closing Address & Performance of the Conference. He has won awards such as the North American Indigenous Image Award for best hip hop, a Native American Music Award for best gospel, the Aboriginal Peoples Music Choice Awards for best video, and an MTV Video Music Award for Best Fight Against the System. If you’re not familiar with Supaman’s music and performance, check it out, and watch this interview on spreading Good Medicine!