Joel West Williams is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a Senior Staff Attorney at the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). He has represented tribal nations, individual Indians, and Indian organizations in matters involving religious liberty, sacred places, voting rights, natural resources, administrative law, and constitutional law. He is NARF’s lead attorney on the Tribal Supreme Court Project, which focuses on the strategy and coordination of Indian law cases before the United States Supreme Court. His article on the Five Civilized Tribes’ treaty rights to water quality was published in the NYU Environmental Law Journal, and he is the editor of the forthcoming book Landmark Indian Law Cases.
He earned a B.A. in Psychology and Religious Studies from Naropa University; a J.D. from Widener University – Delaware Law School; and a LL.M. in Environmental Law summa cum laude from Vermont Law School. Prior to joining NARF, Joel was Assistant Counsel with the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of General Counsel, where he practiced as a trial and appellate attorney. He was also Senior Legislative Officer with Cherokee Nation and director of the tribe’s Washington, DC office.
In addition to his work at NARF, Joel is the alternate federal commissioner on the Arkansas-Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commission and a past president of the National Native American Bar Association.