UNM Native Law Students Spend Summer as Morris Udall Interns

Jacob KeyesHonor KeelerJacob Keyes ('09), a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and Honor Keeler ('10), a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, spent their summer vacation in Washington, D.C. as Morris K. Udall Foundation Native American Congressional interns.

Keeler worked for U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, observing the federal executive and legislative processes firsthand. She also met with key decision-makers and worked on legislation for an international repatriation program.

“The Udall internship was an incredible opportunity to take a project that I have been passionate about and bring it to national attention," she says. "My career goal is to work closely with tribal communities in American Indian policy and law to ensure greater self-determination and self-sufficiency. I also hope to be working with indigenous communities in the future to secure an indigenous voice in international relations, so that they no longer have to be third parties in international agreements.”

Keyes worked for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, Office of Indian Affairs, where he observed the federal executive and legislative processes. He also researched the importance of transportation in Indian country and the debate over the Indian Reservation Roads Program.

“The Native American Congressional Internship has given me a great perspective about the federal legislative process and how American Indians can use this process," he says. "Most importantly, the Udall Internship provided me the opportunity to meet knowledgeable people with similar goals. I had an opportunity to learn from some of the best advocates on Capitol Hill. I will always be grateful for the opportunity and the experiences I had while here.”

This summer, 13 Udall Interns representing 10 tribes and nine colleges and universities completed the intensive 10-week internship. The foundation received a record number of applicants in 2009. Since its inception in 1996, 162 Native American students from 86 tribes have participated in the program.

The Morris K. Udall FoundationLINK: udall.gov was authorized by Congress in 1992 to honor Udall’s legacy of public service. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for three decades, during which he championed the rights of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, using his congressional leadership to strengthen tribal self-governance and national environmental policy.

The deadline to apply for the 2010 Native American Congressional Internships is Jan. 29, 2010.