Member Directory

Howard Shanker

Tohono O'odham Nation
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Howard Shanker
Tohono O'odham Nation

As a Member/Partner of The Shanker Law Firm, Howard assisted a delegation of the Navajo Nation in testifying at a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the issue of uranium mining and contamination on the Navajo Nation. He also conducted government-to-government negotiations on behalf of the Navajo Nation, with the Obama Administration, on the issue of sacred site protection. In 2013, Howard helped represent the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission present to a United Nations working group. In 2010, he provided testimony to the U.S. Department of State, on behalf of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, regarding protecting Native American sacred sites.

Howard previously represented the Hopi Village of Bacavi, where he successfully litigated a “certified question” in the Hopi Court of Appeals that clarified the Village’s authority to remove its Tribal Council Representatives under the Hopi Constitution. On February 15, 2019, Mr. Shanker had oral arguments in front of the Hopi Court of Appeals regarding challenges to the constitutionality of the recently elected Chairman of the Hopi Tribe – on behalf of the Hopi Election Board.

In 2018, Howard briefed and argued two cases regarding the application of a state-based grave site protection law to burial mounds in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court – on behalf of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Also, in 2018, he argued a NEPA-based case, opposing the construction of an Arizona freeway expansion, before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Howard recently negotiated a Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. Howard previously worked with the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe on enrollment, gaming, election and tribal governance issues. Howard has also represented the Gila River Indian Community gaming enterprise on licensing issues.

From 2005 to 2008, Howard represented the Navajo Nation, the Yavapai Apache Nation, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and others in NEPA/RFRA/NHPA- based litigation in an effort to stop the use of reclaimed sewer water in artificial snow-making on the San Francisco Peaks, Coconino County. He prevailed in front of a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit only to be reversed by a split decision of an en banc panel. See, Navajo Nation et al, v. U.S. Forest Service, 535 F.3d1058 (9th Cir. en banc, 2008), cert. den. 129 S.Ct. 2763 (2009). Howard successfully helped represent the White Mountain Apache Tribe on issues of Tribal sovereignty in Elliot v. White Mountain Apache Tribal Court, 566 F.3d 842 (9th Cir. 2009). He was also attorney-of-record on the ESA case that helped protect the Desert Nesting Bald Eagle. See, Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne, No. CV 07-0038-PHX-MHM (D. Ariz. 2008). Howard has been the attorney-of-record on myriad high-profile cases including, in part, Save Our Sonoran v. Flowers, 408 F.3d 1113 (9th Cir. 2005) (NEPA/CWA); NAACP et al. v. Maricopa County, CV 03-2409-PHX-EHC (D. Ariz. 2004) (EJ); Sierra Club v. Dombeck, 55 Fed. Appx.

411, 2002 WL 31887831 (9th Cir. 2002 – unpublished), 161 F. Supp.2d 1052 (D. Ariz. 2001) (NEPA/FLPMA); Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Forest Service, 349 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2003) (NEPA); Benchmark Resources v. U.S., 64 Fed.Cl. 526 (2005) (mining/reclamation).

Howard is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, Juris Doctorate (J.D.) (1989) in Washington, D.C.; Pace Univ., Masters in Public Administration (M.P.A.) awarded with Distinction (1984); Pace University, B.A. History magna cum laude (1982); Middlebury College, Intensive Russian Language Program (Summer 1982). Howard is admitted to practice in state and federal courts in Arizona, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania (inactive), Hopi Tribal Courts, Fort McDowell and Pascua Yaqui Tribal Courts (inactive), the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the Ninth

Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

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