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Diversity Awareness Office


Building Bridges ~ Creating Community

American Indian Law and Resistance Symposium

Friday April 10, 2009

Strand Union Building - Ballroom A
Montana State University - Bozeman


Sponsored by: MSU’s Native American Studies Department, Diversity Awareness Office, Montana INBRE, and Humanities Montana


Schedule Details - click here

Speaker Bios

Robert Tim Coulter
Potawatomi lawyer and activist


            Robert T. Coulter is an attorney who practices in the fields of Indian law and international human rights.  He is the founder and Executive Director of the Indian Law Resource Center in Helena, Montana and Washington, DC.  The Center provides legal assistance for indigenous peoples throughout the Americas.  He is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
            Born at Rapid City, South Dakota, on September 19, 1945.  Coulter received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, (1966) and went on to get a degree in law cum laude from Columbia University Law School (1969).
            With more than 35 years of legal experience in the field of Indian affairs and human rights, he has published numerous articles in these and other fields of law.   Before starting the Center in 1978, he was Acting Executive Director of the Institute for the Development of Indian Law, staff attorney for the Native American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  He was awarded the Lawrence A. Wein Prize for Social Responsibility by Columbia University Law School in 2001 and the Bicentennial Medal by Williams College in 2002. 

Denise Juneau
Hidatsa - Montana State Superintendant of Public Schools


           Denise Juneau became Superintendent of Public Instruction on January 5, 2009.  She most recently served as the Director of Indian Education for OPI, overseeing the Indian Education for All program and working on student achievement issues.
           Her teaching career began in New Town, North Dakota on the Fort Berthold Reservation.  Juneau taught 9th and 10th grade English, and coached the speech and debate team, before returning to Browning to teach at her alma mater.
           Denise served as Indian Education Specialist for OPI before attending law school. Graduating from the University of Montana Law School gave her an understanding of how the law influences and affects our education system.
          In 2004, she became Supreme Court Clerk.  Working in the legal profession has sharpened her principles for fairness, integrity and respect for others.
           Juneau is the first American Indian to serve in a statewide executive level office.  She graduated from Browning High School, in Browning MT.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Montana State University; her Master’s of Education Degree in “Risk and Prevention for School Aged Children” from the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Montana.  While at MSU, she received a Rockefeller Brother’s Foundation Fellowship.
           Denise credits Montana teachers with showing her that she could achieve her dreams and goals, and is grateful for their lessons. She is honored to serve as Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction and looks forward to continuing her work with Montana’s schools and education community, for the benefit of all students.

Edward Valandra
Sicagnu - Chair,University of South Dakota American Indian Studies Department
Vermillion, South Dakota


           Edward Charles Valandra is Sicangu Lakota, born and raised on the Rosebud Reservation. He is an Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of South Dakota and chair of the American Indian Studies Department. He received his BA from Minnesota State University in Mankato, followed by a MA in Political Science from the University of Colorado in Boulder and a PhD in American Studies from the State University of New York in Buffalo. He has taught at the University of California in Davis and Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
           Dr. Valandra’s current research interests focus on the national revitalization of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (People of Seven Fires). His book, Not Without Our Consent: Lakota Resistance to Termination, 1950-1959 was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2006. He is currently working on a follow-up book, entitled The 1964 Plebiscite: A Nation Is Coming. He is a member of the Native Research and Advocacy Collaborative.

Dion Killsback
Northern Cheyenne - Attorney, Holland, & Knight Inidan Law Practice Group
Los Angeles, CA


           Dion Killsback is an associate in Holland & Knight's Indian Law Practice Group. Mr. Killsback has represented Indian tribal governments in all aspects of the law; including: economic development, energy development, water rights, litigation, taxation, corporate issues, child welfare, gaming, contracts, grant writing and compliance, and negotiations with state and federal governments. Mr. Killsback has participated in litigation in tribal court, state court and federal court.
           Mr. Killsback has provided training for judges, lawyers, tribal employees, tribal boards and commissions, and social workers on a variety of topics, including criminal procedure, civil procedure, child welfare, appellate procedure, water rights, and secured transactions. As part of his pro bono efforts, Mr. Killsback has also given numerous motivational presentations at Montana Reservation high schools.
           Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Killsback worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where he served as an Indian Self-Determination Specialist. Following his graduation from law school, he taught Law & the American Indian as an adjunct professor at Chief Dull Knife College in Montana. Mr. Killsback also worked with the Northern Cheyenne Environmental Protection Department, gaining experience and advising on matters related to Indian Law and Environmental Law.
           Mr. Killsback is a member of the Norther Cheyenne Tribe.