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Website by WolfStar Productions

Western Native Voice is a 501(c)3 Native non-profit organization. Contributions are deductable as allowed by law.

About Us

Established in 2011, Western Native Voice (WNV) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to increase Native American participation and engagement in voting and self-determination. We work to nurture and empower new native leaders and impact policies affecting Native Americans through community organizing, education, leadership and advocacy. We are engaged on all seven Montana Indian reservations and also engaged in major Montana urban centers because approximately half of Montana’s native population lives off reservation.

 

Our Purpose: We inspire Native leadership so our communities flourish.
 
Our Mission: To foster positive social change in our communities through leadership development, education, engagement, and public policy advocacy. 

 

Our Vision: Engaging Native Americans to building political and personal power to address local community challenges. We support and encourage Native community members to step up and be a voice for their families and communities through the civic engagement process and public policies that affect their lives and well-being. We strive for a world absent of discrimination and inequality, where every human has equal access to safety and success.

“What guides our work is the direct action of tribal community members to create and implement change from their families to the policy level.”

“The community change that is desired needs to come from the voices of those who are directly impacted by the policies.” 

2018 WNV Annual Report Online-1.png

The 2018 WNV Annual Report is now available!

Meet Our Staff

Marci McLean

Executive Director (Piikuni)

Following service in the Army National Guard, Marci studied at Montana State University-College of Technology where she earned an A.A.S. in Physical Therapy. Marci then attended the University of Montana and earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology with a minor in Native American Studies. In the 2012 Election, Marci co-managed field operations for the Western Native Voice voter mobilization campaign.

You can reach Marci at marci@westernnativevoice.org

Ta'jin Perez

Program Manager (Tutunacu)

Ta'jin joined Western Native Voice as the Program Manager in March 2017 after organizing local efforts in solidarity to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. Ta'jin has a B.A. in History from Austin College in Sherman, TX. Ta'jin is interested in issues surrounding poverty, food security, feminism and tribal sovereignty. Ta'jin grew up in Wyoming, is a first generation American, and a first generation college graduate. Ta'jin stays active in the Billings community by serving on the city's Human Relations Commission, participating in the Billings Parks community garden project, and recently ran for Billings City Council. Ta'jin is married to his wife, Bailey, and is the father of 2 children, Rowan & Elio.

You can reach Ta'jin at tperez@westernnativevoice.org

Krystal Hill

Financial Controller (Tsétsêhéstâhese/Apsáalooke)

Krystal Hill is the Financial Controller with Western Native Voice. She was born and raised in Southeastern Montana. Krystal joins the team with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Management from Rocky Mountain College, bringing experience in Accounting for Tribal Governments and Federal Grant Management. Prior to her work with Western Native Voice, she worked in marketing and public relations for a rural telecommunications cooperative in Montana and North Dakota.


Krystal is an avid long distance runner, competing in many local and regional runs, and she enjoys spending time with her husband Paul and her children.

You can reach Krystal at khill@westernnativevoice.org

John Old Elk

Campaign Coordinator (Apsaalooke)

John began working for Western Native Voice as a Community Organizer in 2018. He grew up in Billings, Montana and is a member of the Crow Nation. John has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. His role as Campaign Coordinator is to establish and maintain relationships with WNV allies doing civic engagement and voter participation work. He is passionate about getting more Indigenous people to be a part of the decision making process.

You can reach John at joldelk@westernnativevoice.org

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Meet Our Community Organizers

Joe Running Crane

Blackfeet Organizer

You can reach Joe at blackfeet@westernnativevoice.org

Jade Sooktis

Northern Cheyenne Organizer

You can reach Jade at jsooktis@westernnativevoice.org

Lailani Upham

Flathead Organizer

You can reach Lailani at cskt@westernnativevoice.org

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Meet Our Board

Norma Bixby

Board Vice Chair (Northern Cheyenne)

Possessing an extensive career in education and politics, Norma's experience includes service as a State Representative from 2000-2008; Chair of the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education; and Chair of the Montana Committee on Civil Rights. Norma has a M.A. in Education from the University of New Mexico. Norma is currently the Director of Tribal Education for the Northern Cheyenne tribe.

Pat Smith

Board Member (Assiniboine)

Pat Smith holds an undergraduate degree in history and political science and a juris doctor degree from the University of Montana.  His law practice specialized in Indian law where he represented Indian tribes for 31 years, based out of Montana.  In 2013, he was appointed by Montana Governor Steve Bullock to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and also to represent Montana on the Columbia River Treaty’s Sovereign Review Team.   He has also served:  on the 2010 Montana Redistricting Commission as an appointee of the Democratic leader of the Montana Senate; on the University of Montana School of Law’s Board of Visitors; and as Chief Judge of  the Appellate Court of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.  He is an enrolled member of the Assiniboine Tribe on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, where his family has operated a wheat farm.  He and his wife Michelle live near Missoula, Montana.

Lea Whitford

Board Member (Piikuni)

Lea is currently working for the Blackfeet Planning & Development Office and is a Montana State Senator for Senate District 8, and also formerly served in the Montana House of Representatives. She has been involved in education and worked on conservation issues for over 20 years. She was raised on the Blackfeet reservation and has resided there all her life. She has 3 children; one in college, her oldest son works for a livestock feed company, and the youngest is in middle school.

Montana Wilson

Board Member (Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, and Sioux)

Montana Duke Wilson, 29, is a Two-Spirit Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, and Sioux from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Currently, Wilson is a Juris Doctor Candidate at the University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law as a Blewett Scholar. He holds a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge with the highest academic honor—Gates-Cambridge Scholar, which fully funded his master’s work in England. During his master’s program, Wilson developed a strategic plan that would use tribal courts to restore our language and culture, while deescalating violence on Indian Reservations, and securing transactions to promote economic growth on our Reservations.   
 
Wilson holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics, highest honors, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, highest honors, and an Honors Baccalaureate Degree of Summa Cum Laude from Montana State University Bozeman, with the top Montana State Honor—Award for Excellence. Wilson is an alumnus of the Semester at Sea Program, which is an undergraduate program that focuses on cultural comparison coursework in various countries around the world while on the MV Explorer cruise ship. Most notably, Wilson circumnavigated the globe onboard the MV Explorer, which allowed him to study in 14 countries. The Gates Millennium Scholarship, Udall Foundation Scholarship (tribal public policy), and Fort Belknap Higher Education Program fully funded Wilson’s undergraduate education.
 
Wilson has extensive experience with tribal governments. He has served the Fort Peck Tribes as a law clerk, criminal prosecutor, and public defender, where he implemented restorative justice practices during his tenure. Additionally, Wilson has served as the American Indian Council President, Montana 4-H President, and Montana 4-H Foundation Board of Directors.
 
Wilson is excited to join Western Native Voice on the Board of Directors and looks forward to furthering our organization’s mission, especially increasing voter turnout in Indian Country.

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