Bree Black Horse (Indian name: Prized Woman) is an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. A self-described “legal warrior,” she focuses her practice on Native American affairs & litigation, and is admitted to numerous tribal courts.
Bree’s legal career spans a variety of roles and experiences, including working on a wide range of cases, both criminal and civil. In addition, she worked as a youth advocate and case manager for United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, where she worked with formerly homeless young adults in transitional housing. She also served as a judicial extern to Chief Judge Theresa M. Pouley in the Tulalip Tribal Court, a legal clerk in the Office of Tribal Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice, and a law clerk to the Hon. Brian M. Morris in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.
Bree’s work has garnered many recognitions and awards. In 2021 and the three years immediately preceding, she was recognized as a Washington “Rising Star” for Native American Law by Super Lawyers magazine. Bree was also recognized in 2022 as one of the "Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch" for Native American Law by The Best Lawyers in America®. In addition, Bree received the Public Service & Leadership Award from the Washington Young Lawyers Committee of the Washington State Bar Association in 2019 & the “40 Under 40” Award from the National Center for American Indian Economic Development.
Bree grew up steeped in Tribal traditions, culture, and art. Regularly attending powwows – and performing in them – she listened to tribal elders as they discussed the issues and concerns facing Native American communities. Realizing that many of these matters have legal aspects, she decided that she could best serve her community by becoming a lawyer. In this episode, Bree tells us how her career journey is inextricably linked to the unimaginable suffering that Native Americans have endured since the United States was formed and how her people’s history forged her determination to conquer adversity, stand tall, and be counted.
- From Powwow to law school (3:15)
- A mother’s wish comes true (04:25)
- Power Royalty and public speaking (05:43)
- The Nordstrom gig that helped support a family, build leadership skills, and pave the way to law school (08:44)
- Stepping into a brand-new world (12:20)
- A bracing dose of straight talk (14:14)
- The gift of adversity (17:53)
- Serving the law-school community and leaving a mark (21:00)
- Being the only Native American person in the room; representing a people who experienced government-led ethnocide and genocide (22:21)
- The forced assimilation campaign against Native Americans and the Trail of Tears (24:40)
- Becoming a legal warrior for Native American rights (31:02)
- The power that comes from knowing who you are (32:45)
- Finding multiple opportunities to serve the community as a lawyer (35:08)
- Impact litigation through the ACLU (38:47)
- The epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women (40:37)
- The disproportionate service of Indian veterans (49:28)
- The opportunity inherent in being the first or the only (53:10)