Yakama Nation Endorsement of Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis for Washington Supreme Court

Here is the letter: Letter_YN_Endorsement of J. Raquel Montoya-Lewis (8.21.20).

Here is the text of the letter:

To Whom It May Concern, 


I write on behalf of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation to endorse Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis for the Washington State Supreme Court.  As the first Native to serve as a State Supreme Court Justice, Justice Montoya-Lewis brings a background and perspective to the bench that has been sorely lacking throughout Washington’s statehood. 


Justice Montoya-Lewis’s experience as a Judge for the Lummi Nation, Nooksack Tribe, and Upper Skagit Tribe have afforded her an in-depth understanding of both tribal law and federal Indian law, which is essential to understanding the limitations of Washington State law plays in Indian Country.  This experience makes Justice Montoya-Lewis uniquely qualified to recognize and uphold the Treaty and other inherent rights of the 29 sovereign Native Nations whose peoples have always lived in the lands now called Washington State.


Justice Montoya-Lewis clearly has the legal mind and acumen needed for the job, but more importantly she has the heart and compassion that our society needs from state judges.  On July 10, 2020, Justice Montoya-Lewis read aloud the Supreme Court’s decision to vacate its 1916 conviction of an enrolled Yakama Member, atwai Alec Towessnute, for exercising his Treaty-reserved fishing rights on the Yakima River.  Speaking truth to our experience as Native Peoples, Justice Montoya-Lewis correctly observed that injustices like the Towessnute conviction “continue to perpetrate injustice by their very existence.”


Justice Montoya-Lewis’s perspective has long been absent from the Washington State Supreme Court.  We urge all enrolled Yakama Members, and all Washington State citizens, to support her candidacy to retain her seat on the Washington State Supreme Court.

News Profiles of Former Indian Law Prof Running for Congress

Spent last summer in ABQ hearing about how far Gavin Clarkson has fallen. It’s really sad.

Here is “Congressional candidate says bankruptcy is irrelevant” from the Santa Fe New Mexican from May 2018.

Here is “New Mexico candidate’s role in loan questioned” from the Santa Fe New Mexican from October 2018.

None of this is new, I suppose. We posted about much of it before. Clarkson was involved in a loan deal involving the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe that led to an OIG investigation and a Human Rights Watch report, details here. Here is the WaPo report on Clarkson’s resignation from Interior caused by his interference with the Lower Brule loan guarantee debacle. Another report from Indianz.

Quick update: Gavin’s name came up on my news feeds because he is suing New Mexico State for race discrimination, contract breach, etc. Here are the materials in Clarkson v. New Mexico Board of Regents (D.N.M.), which is still pending:

1 Notice of Removal + Complaint

3 Answer

14 Motion to Dismiss

20 Response + “Counter Motion”

25 Reply

26 DCT Order