Biography

Vanessa L. Ray-Hodge (Pueblo of Acoma), is a partner in the Albuquerque office of Sonosky, Chamber, Sachse, Endreson & Perry.  Prior to rejoining Sonosky, Vanessa served as the Senior Counselor to Solicitor Hilary Tompkins at the Department of the Interior.  At Interior, Ms. Ray-Hodge advised the Solicitor on Indian Affairs issues and was integral in a multitude of decisions.  Some of her key efforts included:

  • Addressing, in part, the Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri v. United States, to continue to take land into trust for tribes, culminating in the Solicitor’s M-Opinion 37029 (March 12, 2014), The Meaning of “Under Federal Jurisdiction” for Purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act.  However, until a congressional fix is done the decision will continue to take up Interior resources.
  • Advising the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, the Office of Indian Gaming and National Indian Gaming Commission on Indian lands determinations, compact approvals and off reservation gaming issues, including looking critically at prior Indian gaming decisions.
  • United States Amicus briefing of Brown v. Rincon, before the Supreme Court to support the Tribe on compact negotiation issues.
  • Advising the Secretary’s Indian Water Rights Office and Working Group on Indian Water Rights Settlements, including participation in numerous negotiation teams.
  • Resolution of decades long water settlement issues for certain tribes, resulting in congressional legislation that the Administration will support.
  • Implementation of the Cobell Settlement, including the Scholarship Fund and the Buy Back Program.
  • United States Baby Girl Supreme Court brief and post decision agency activities, including the 2015 BIA ICWA Guidelines and Proposed ICWA Regulations.
  • Advising the Department on the Secretarial Trust Commission Report that led to the Secretarial Order 3335 Reaffirming the Trust Responsibility.
  • Osage Tribal Trust Settlement and implementation of the settlement, including advising the Department during a negotiated rulemaking and final promulgation of regulations revising the management and administration of the Osage minerals estate.
  • Resolution of long-standing boundary disputes for Indian tribes, including Legal Opinion on the Boundary of the Wind River Reservation for EPA on a Treatment as a State Application to EPA (Oct. 26, 2011); M-Opinion 37027, Boundary Dispute: Pueblo of Santa Ana Petition for Correction of the Survey of the South Boundary of the Pueblo of San Felipe Grant (June 7, 2013); M-Opinion 37028, Applicability of the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management's Riparian Policy to Lands within the Boundaries of the Santa Clara Pueblo Grant (June 21, 2013).
  • Resolution of Riverbed Ownership issues in M-Opinion 37033, Opinion Regarding the Status of the Bed of the Clearwater River within the 1863 Treaty Boundaries of the Nez Perce Reservation (Idaho).

Ms. Ray-Hodge attended Wellesley College where she graduated in 2000 with a major in Anthropology.  She then went on to Columbia Law School where she graduated with honors in 2003 as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. 

Ms. Ray-Hodge currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Native American Youth Association in Portland, Oregon.  In the past she has served as President of the Native American Bar Association of D.C. from 2005-2006.  She co-taught Federal Indian Law during American University's Washington Internships for Native Students summer program in 2004.  

Honors

  • Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
  • Department of the Interior Solicitor's Excellence Award, BP Oil Spill - 2010
  • Department of the Interior Solicitor's Excellence Award, Indian Affairs - 2015