2020 Keynote Speakers

October 21, 2020- Closing Ceremony


Christina Snider serves as Tribal Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom and Executive Secretary of the Native American Heritage Commission . Christina’s work focuses primarily on tribal law and policy, with experience in tribal tax, economic development, gaming, child welfare, juvenile justice, cultural resource protection, voting rights and government relations at the state and federal levels. She is an enrolled member of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians .
Christina received her law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013, and is licensed to practice law in California and the District of Columbia . She has served as a law clerk at the Office of Tribal Justice at the United States Department of Justice and the Hualapai Court of Appeals, and worked with the Wishtoyo Foundation/Ventura Coastkeeper as a legal fellow, the National Congress of American Indians as a staff attorney, Ceiba Legal, LLP as of counsel and the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians as an ICWA representative . Christina received her Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of California, Los Angeles

Steve Sisolak was born into a working-class family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where his parents, Ed and Mary worked hard to provide for their three children . Steve inherited their blue-collar ethic, working full-time to put himself through college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee . Steve then enrolled in UNLV’s Graduate Studies Program, where he received a master’s degree in 1978 .Steve put down roots in Las Vegas, built his own communications business, all while raising his two daughters on his own as a single father . Both his daughters attended Nevada’s public high schools and UNLV, where Ashley earned her law degree and Carley earned her master’s degree .
Motivated by his passion for education, Steve decided to give back to the community that supported him by serving on the Nevada Board of Regents for 10 years . As a champion for parents and students, Steve stood up for Nevadans wrongfully charged out-of-state tuition and fought for increased state funding . Education remains a top priority for Steve as governor .
In 2008, after 10 years as a University Regent, Steve was elected to the Clark County Commission, where he served as chairman until being sworn in as governor of Nevada . On the commission, Steve was known as a coalition builder and problem solver . Steve successfully managed the state’s largest county budget and led the county through the Great Recession . As governor, Steve is working to strengthen Nevada’s statewide economy by diversifying our industries and working to attract new fields and recruit job-creating companies to the Silver State.
Steve is proud to be able to call Nevada home and is honored to serve our families as their governor. Throughout his time in office. Steve’s goal is to keep Nevada strong and moving forward by investing in education, creating jobs by diversifying the economy, and guaranteeing quality, affordable health care for all Nevadans

2020 Conner Byestewa Jr. Environmentalist Award Recipients

Edwin Smith, Vice-Chairman, Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria

Hello my name is Edwin Smith . I am a proud Tribal member of the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria. I had the honor to serve in the Marines Corps and learned three basic values: Honor, Courage, and Commitment. I carried those values with me to my work at Bear River for over 23 years .

Early in my career at Bear River, I took a year off to work on a fishing boat in Alaska. I returned to my Tribe and spent the next 22 years as the Director of Environmental and Natural Resources (ENR). During that time, I secured the Tribe’s first GAP grant, and added the 106 grant in 2000 and the 319 grant in 2002. I worked many long days preparing the documentation for Treatment as a State for 319, and must have submitted well over a hundred grant applications during my tenure.

I secured AOA funding for an Elders’ Lunch program, and for the first few years served as both cook and dishwasher for that program in addition to my ENR duties. I worked with closely with local archaeologists and environmentalists, as well as geologists and seismologists on hazard mitigation and Tsunami preparedness.

I am proud to say I helped the Tribe become the first in California to erect an anemometer to conduct wind energy studies, and in 2004 we began our own wind power generation on the Rancheria in 2004. I guided the Tribe to become the first to install a renewable microgrid system in 2015 .

I have presented at numerous conferences, most recently at the US Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy conference in 2019. Also in 2019, I created an environmental science internship at Bear River with Humboldt State University.

During my career at Bear River, I participated in hundreds of cultural resource investigations and environmental assessments, including the King Range Conservation Area environmental impact statement. In 2003 I was recognized as a docent for the Sinkyone Wilderness, and have supported and been involved in numerous local environmental groups and projects.

I had the  privilege  of training over two  dozen Tribal members  during my time as Director, from our  water and wastewater operators to maintenance staff, grant writers, and building inspectors. I was fortunate to be personally involved in the planning and construction of every existing Tribal enterprise , facility, and home, but I feel the greatest achievement of my career has been the opportunity to educate and guide the future leaders and professionals of our Tribe.

I am currently serving as the Vice-Chairperson on the Tribal Council, and hope to continue service to my Tribe far into the future.

Jeremy Roy Phillips, Sr. Environmental Specialist- HAZ Substances Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Development Department

I am a Community member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC), which is located in Maricopa County and bounded by the cities of Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa and Fountain Hills.  I received my education from Arizona State University and ITT Technical Institute.  For twenty two years, I have been employed with SRPMIC where I began my environmental career as a Water Quality Technician and I’m presently a Senior Environmental Specialist within the Hazardous Substance Program of the Community Development Department (CDD) / Environmental Protection & Natural Resources (EPNR).

In my early years, I conducted inventory of ground water wells located within the boundaries of SRPMIC, and worked cohesively with my late mentor, Berkley Cough.  He provided education on the Community codes and federal laws pertaining to water and pesticides and, mostly encouragement of protecting our culture and livelihood.  Thereafter, I was promoted to the Pesticide Program where I obtained my U.S. EPA Federal Credentials within the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  I conducted agricultural and non-agricultural inspections.  I provided Worker Protection Standards (WPS) education and training to agricultural workers on the leased farms within SRPMIC.

As my environmental experience and education increased so did my work responsibilities.  I managed the Pesticide Program, developed the pesticide enforcement capabilities, developed outreach & education of pesticide safety, implemented an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program and assisted other Tribal Pesticides Programs.  For enforcement, I developed the following: a pesticide ordinance for agricultural and non-agricultural (WPS, pesticide applications, marketplace) inspections; Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs); and Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP).  For WPS, I have provided training and education on pesticide handling and safety to approximately 800 agricultural field workers, 20 farm managers, five farm owners and over 200 SRPMIC Public Works/Ground staff.  I also provided extensive pesticide outreach and education to Community elders, members and leadership via Senior Breakfast, Earth Day & Fall Overhaul events, and Council & District meetings.  In 1999, I acquired federal funds to implement an IPM Program for Tribal Schools.  I initiated the program by conducting a pest assessment at three schools (Early Childhood, Salt River Elementary and Salt River High School) and integrated pest proofing (installation of bird netting, eagle eyes & spikes, door sweep replacements and building repairs).  Currently, there are two private schools and a charter school that are required to implement IPM through their land lease.

In the beginning of my pesticide career, I met a gentleman who always wore a cowboy hat that worked and was a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribe (CRIT), and it honors me to receive the award named for a well distinguished individual, Mr. Conner Byestewa, Jr.  During those early meetings and training we attended he always shared with me how to successfully develop and manage a pesticide program and he encouraged me to speak up for the betterment of our Tribe’s welfare.  He did make an impact that I continue to aspire for myself and for my Community.

Since 2012, I have overseen the Household Hazardous Waste collection, which is scheduled during the annual SRPMIC Fall Overhaul and Earth Day events.  Approximately 8,000 pounds of unwanted and/or expired pesticides were collected and properly disposed of.  I’m also focused on educating Community members on pesticide safety such as purchasing the correct amount needed for their household.

Beyond my duties at SRPMIC; I provide presentations on our Pesticide Program at various regional pesticide events (Pesticide Regulatory Education Program (PREP) and Pesticide Education Resource Collaborative (PERC)).  I also provide technical assistance to local Tribal programs such as Quechan, Cocopah and Tohono O’odham Nation.  Lastly, I am a founding and current member of the Tribal Pesticide Program Council (TPPC) and a Central Arizona representative to the Regional Tribal Operations Committee (RTOC).

Clell Pete, Environmental Director, Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation

Clell was born in lbapah, Utah on February 12th, 1947 . He was born to Lillie and Leo Pete and has a large and extensive family. Having a lifetime admiration for lbapah and its people, applying for the Environmental Protection Department has and is the best job for Clell . He now holds the title of the Environmental Protection Department Director for Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation
(CTGR) . But he initially worked his way up to this position from beginning as the Tribes, Environmental Technician for the department in 2007, then to the Directors position in 2013 .
During his years as the Environmental Technician he began clearing and cleaning out parcels of land in and around the reservation that were old dumpsites . He also restored various springs, and tributaries leading into creeks by creating rock paths that vehicles could drive over, without disturbing the creeks, various plant and animal life within these water beds, along with various other jobs to keep the land of CTGR as pristine as it can be .
During his directorship in the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) he was able to help CTGR; when he received authorization from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin a Section 303 Water Quality Standards and Section 401 Water Quality Certification under the Clean Water Act for CTGR. This endeavor by the EPD department under Clell’s guidance, lead to an award for the EPD for the Tribe . All his employees, Marjie Greymountain, Genevieve Fields and the Tribal Chairman Rupert Steele attended the ceremony in Arizona .

Having received the Section 401 Water Quality Act Certification has significantly helped deter Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) from fulfilling their attempt at diverting water from Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, and the surrounding areas as well, within Eastern Nevada and Western Utah . Therefore allowing the CTGR Tribe and
surrounding rancher communities from losing their water to Las Vegas, Nevada .
Besides working full time in the EPD, he is a rancher and owns a small cattle business that he runs on Tribal grazing lands, and his own land assignment .
He is married, and has five children, and twenty grandchildren. He holds two Brigham Young University degrees, and is a Vietnam Veteran.


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