Pamela J. Kushmaul
The practice of law is a second career for Pam. She was a registered nurse for many years, most recently with the Indian Health Service serving members of the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos and the Navajo Nation. Pam received her undergraduate degree from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and her law degree from Oklahoma City University (“OCU”) School of Law in 2004. Her sole purpose in attending law school was to practice Indian Law.
During law school Pam worked for the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma and for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe through the Native American Legal Resource Center at OCU. Her work for the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma included civil legal assistance for victims of domestic violence, and research assistance for the Tribe’s economic development projects. Pam assisted the Otoe-Missouria Tribal Prosecutor’s office, preparing and presenting cases in Tribal Court. She was also an intern at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma for the Indian Country Crimes Unit. Pam competed in the Native American Law Student moot court competition and received several awards related to her work as a law student in Indian law including CALI awards for excellence in American Indian Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Pam was admitted to the New Mexico Bar in September, 2004.
In 2005 Pam received an LL.M. in American Indian and Indigenous Law from the University of Tulsa College of Law. While at the University of Tulsa, she worked in the Muscogee Creek Nation Legal Program providing legal services to members of the Muscogee Creek Nation.
Pam joined John D. Wheeler & Associates in July, 2005. She has worked on a variety of issues for the Mescalero Apache Tribe including advising all three branches of government. Pam has provided confidential advice to the Chief Judge and Associate Judges of the Mescalero Apache Tribal Court and has organized and conducted numerous trainings and seminars for judicial department employees. Pam has also worked very closely with the Tribal Prosecutor’s Office, including helping to establish the office and duties of the Tribe’s new special prosecutor. With respect to the legislative branch of government, Pam either drafted or redrafted many tribal code sections and most recently has been responsible for the recodification and printing of the new edition of the Mescalero Apache Tribal Code. Pam has strongly advocated housing issues on behalf of the Tribe and has advised the Tribe on land acquisition issues, rights-of-way and energy issues.
Very close to Pam’s heart are the many language and cultural preservation issues on which she has been consulted. Pam has significant experience in helping tribal interests achieve their goals in these two very important arenas. To do so, she has worked very closely with both traditional and governmental resources.
Finally, Pam has advised the executive branch, including the President and Executive Committee on issues such as the Indian Child Welfare Act and the relationship of the tribe with local, state, and federal governments. Pam has helped the Tribe strengthen its position and achieve its goals with these outside partners through memoranda of understanding, intergovernmental agreements and otherwise, in such areas as law enforcement, water improvements, and treatment services for Tribal youth.
In 2006 Pam was appointed to the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Domestic Violence Working Group which wrote the Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking in Civil Protection Order Cases. She was one of three appointees in the country asked to represent the interests of Indian victims. The standards were adopted by the ABA at its August, 2007 Annual Meeting.
Pam is a strong advocate of tribal sovereignty and tribal self-determination and views that as the foundation for her approach to all her tribal work. A recognized expert in federal Indian law, Pam was recently a panelist discussing economic development in Indian Country at a conference sponsored by the Indian Law Section of the New Mexico Bar Association.
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