We are pleased to welcome Holly T. Bird (San Felipe Pueblo/Apache/Yaqui/Perepucha) as the newest staff member of the Water Protector Legal Collective. Holly joins as the Co-Executive Director.
Previous to joining the staff as Co-Executive Director, Holly was honored to serve as the Civil Ground Coordinator for WPLC for the Standing Rock / Oceti Sakowin camp. Holly has also served on our board, and continues to work as part of the civil legal team for the Dundon v. Kirchmeier litigation. Holly also maintains a private practice in Traverse City, MI, concentrating in matters of Native American, family, criminal, civil, probate, tribal cannabis/hemp, employment and business law. In addition, she has served as an Associate Judge, Chief Judge, and currently, an Supreme Court Justice for several tribal courts. Holly also founded and serves as the Executive Director for the Michigan Water Protectors Legal Task Force, a project of the National Lawyers Guild. She has presented to the United Nations twice regarding the violations of Indigenous human rights. A graduate of Michigan State University and DePaul University College of Law, she’s authored the publications: “Jumping Through Hoops: Traditional Healers and the Indian Health Care Act,” (1999) and “Making the Cross-Cultural Case; Educating the Judge about Race, Religion, and Ethnicity” (2004). After law school, Holly was a hearing officer for Chicago Public Schools, and was appointed as a guardian ad litem for the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office in 2000, where she represented hundreds of children in the abuse/neglect system. Founder of the Illinois Native American Bar Association, she’s credited for using her advocacy to remove offensive sports mascots from several Illinois schools. A mediator, peacemaker, and the very first Native American arbitrator, Holly was awarded the prestigious American Arbitration Association’s Higginbotham Fellowship in 2013.
Holly also serves as a member of the Mindimooyenh Healing Society, a traditional Anishinaabek women’s society based in Northern Michigan. She resides in northern Michigan with her husband, Percy Bird (Grand Traverse Band Odawa), and their four children.