The Policy Lead – Environmental Sovereignty will conduct in-depth research and analysis on environmental, natural resource, and conservation law and policy at the tribal, federal, state, local, and international levels for the NCAI Institute for Environmental Sovereignty. The ideal candidate has a good understanding of administrative, federal Indian, and environmental law, and has at least three years of experience carrying out legal and policy research and analysis as well as drafting public-facing reports, white papers, and issue briefs. Candidates will have a passion for serving Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities and a deep interest in environmental protection and natural resource stewardship.

The Institute for Environmental Sovereignty’s mission is to advance Tribal Nations’ leadership in natural resource governance and environmental stewardship; the safeguarding of Indigenous peoples’ cultural heritage linked to the landscape and natural environment; and innovative Indigenous-led approaches to environmental protection. The Institute carries out this mission through its core objectives: (1) tracking environmental matters of greatest concern to Indian Country; (2) carrying out in-depth research and analysis of environmental and natural resource policy, law, programs, and action, at all levels and types of government, which impact Indian Country, treaty resources, cultural heritage, and tribal communities’ health and wellness; (3) advocating for greater tribal sovereignty over, and stewardship of critically important natural resources; and (4) convening Tribal Nation leaders, partners, and supporters around Indian Country’s greatest environmental problems, solutions, and promising opportunities to create communities of practice.

Duties & Responsibilities:

Under the direction of NCAI’s Director of the Institute for Environmental Sovereignty, the primary duties of the Policy Lead – Environmental Sovereignty include but are not limited to:

Conduct in-depth legal and policy research and analysis at the tribal, federal, state, local, and international levels
Engage in policy development
Draft reports, white papers, issue briefs, journal articles, and other public-facing documents
Monitor legal, policy, social, and technological developments regarding environmental, natural resource, and conservation matters
Develop and maintain expertise in law and policy related to environmental protection, natural resource stewardship, the relationship between Tribal Nations and federal, state, and local governments, and other related areas
Cultivate strong relationships with internal and external partners and partner organizations, technical experts, and government agencies and officials
Deliver presentations, both virtual and in-person
Contribute to grant writing in support of the Institute, including letters of intent, concept notes, and proposals
Travel in order to staff NCAI’s three major conferences that take place each calendar year, and occasional travel for site visits, meetings, and representing the Institute at conferences, including providing presentations on Institute projects when required

Required Skills & Abilities:

Admission to and good standing with a U.S. state bar
Excellent writing skills and experience developing clear and concise documents aimed at a variety of audiences (i.e., policymakers, legal experts, the general public)
Robust understanding of, and experience with administrative, federal Indian, and environmental/natural resources legal frameworks
An interest in environmental science and other technical fields, Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and cultural resources
Familiarity with environmental, natural resource, or cultural resource matters significant to Tribal Nations or Indigenous communities
Project management experience preferred
Experience in making public records requests preferred
Highly organized and intellectually curious with a powerful work ethic and rigorous attention to detail
Strong time-management skills; ability to multi-task and produce high-quality work under time constraints
Strong interpersonal and communication skills
Ability to work both individually and collaboratively with a team, including training and supervising others (professional staff, law clerks, or graduate/undergraduate-level interns)
Demonstrable proficiency with legal databases (i.e., WestLaw, LexisNexis, HeinOnline, Trellis), Microsoft Office tools and/or Google Workspace, and a willingness to develop expertise in other tools and applications

Education & Experience:

Law degree from an accredited law school
At least three years of professional work experience conducting legal and policy research and analysis
Physical Requirements:

Prolonged periods sitting at a desk and working on a computer.
Must be able to lift up to 15 pounds at times.

Supervisory Responsibilities:



The salary range is $83,000-120,000, commensurate with experience and educational qualifications.

Work Hours & Environment:

This is a Forty (40) hours per calendar week position, fifty-two (52) weeks per calendar year; provided, however, during the time periods leading up to, during, and immediately following NCAI conferences and similar events, involvement up to Sixty (60) hours per week may be required.

This position is remote eligible.

Tagged as: law degree, legal research, policy analysis, writing

About National Congress of American Indians

Since 1944 NCAI has served as the unified voice for American Indian and Alaska Native Issues.

Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.

NCAI, a non-profit organization, advocates for a bright future for generations to come by taking the lead to gain consensus on a constructive and promising vision for Indian Country. The organization’s policy issues and initiatives are driven by the consensus of our diverse membership, which consists of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, tribal citizens, individuals, and Native and non-Native organizations.

For nearly seven decades since its founding, NCAI has remained true to the original purpose of the organization: to be the unified voice of tribal nations. As outlined in the NCAI Constitution, our purpose is to serve as a forum for unified policy development among tribal governments in order to: (1) protect and advance tribal governance and treaty rights; (2) promote the economic development and health and welfare in Indian and Alaska Native communities; and (3) educate the public toward a better understanding of Indian and Alaska Native tribes.