Joseph Tali Byrd has been selected for the prestigious Udall Internship and will intern this summer at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Tribal Justice in Washington, D.C.
The highly-competitive Native American Congressional Internship program provides practical experience with the federal legislative process and understanding of the government-to-government relationship between Indian tribes and the United States.
The internship brings together a community of 12 American Indian and Alaska Native college graduates and law students. They are provided housing, a living allowance, transportation to and from Washington, D.C., and an educational stipend. The interns also enjoy access to a network of American Indian professionals and alumni who work on behalf of tribal nations, according to udall.gov.
He will earn his Juris Doctorate next May from the University of New Mexico School of Law with an Indian Law Certificate. He is currently the president of the UNM Native American Law Student Association, student representative of the New Mexico Chapter of Federal Bar Association, and member of the Environmental Law Society.
The internship is funded by the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy. The Udall Internship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, whose careers had a significant impact on American Indian self-governance and health care, as well as the stewardship of public lands and natural resources.
Byrd has nearly a decade of Indian gaming experience as a marketing manager for Downstream Casino Resort for the Quapaw Nation, and later as the compliance manager for Cherokee Nation Entertainment for the Cherokee Nation. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Northeastern State University, a Master of Jurisprudence Indian Law from the University of Tulsa School of Law and is a proud graduate of Sequoyah High School.
From Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Byrd is the son of the late Suzy Moore, Osage/Quapaw, and Joe Byrd, current Speaker of the Cherokee Nation. Byrd’s Wah-Zha-Zhe name is Xu-Tha Zu-Tsi and he serves on the committee for Wa-Xa-Ko-Li District.
When asked what motivated him to pursue a law degree, Byrd replied, “That’s easy. Everything I do, I do with my people in mind. It’s in my blood. The elders and children inside our tribal communities provide me the motivation to pursue a law degree. My ancestors fought to protect and assert tribal sovereignty before the word ever existed, and I will honor them by doing the same. I am honored and humbled to be selected as a Udall Intern and look forward to the experience.”