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Dawn Sturdevant Baum & Chairperson Janet K. Bill Honored for Achievements in Indian Law

BAKERSFIELD, CA - The California Indian Law Association, Inc. (CILA) is proud to announce that the late Dawn Sturdevant Baum is the 2023 recipient of CILA’s Outstanding Achievement in California Indian Law Award and Janet K. Bill is the recipient of the 2023 Outstanding Young Attorney Award.

CILA’s Outstanding Achievement in California Indian Law Award honors one legal professional annually who has made significant contributions to California Indian law. Previous recipients of this award include Judge Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe; Dorothy Alther, Legal Director of California Indian Legal Services; Carole Goldberg, Distinguished Research Professor and Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law Emerita at UCLA School of Law; and Michael Pfeffer, Partner at Maier, Pfeffer, Kim, Geary & Cohen.

CILA’s Outstanding Young Attorney Award recognizes attorneys in practice for ten years or less who exemplify high achievement, innovation, leadership, and service within the field of Indian law. Previous recipients of the Outstanding Young Attorney Award include Lenny Powell, Senior Associate at Jenner & Block; Christina Snider, Tribal Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom; Fatima Abbas, Director of the Office of Tribal and Native Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Lauren van Schilfgaarde, Assistant Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law; and Geneva E. B. Thompson, Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs at the California Natural Resources Agency.

For the Outstanding Achievement Award, no one is more deserving than the late Dawn Sturdevant Baum. “Dawn was an excellent attorney, mentor, and friend. As a prominent member of the CILA community, Dawn impacted generations of attorneys with her mentorship and encouragement both inside and outside of California. Dawn was a fierce advocate for tribal sovereignty and a powerful force for justice. Universally admired for her kindness and generous spirit, Dawn’s legacy will stay with us forever,” said Loretta Miranda, CILA Board of Directors. CILA’s Outstanding Achievement Award celebrates Dawn’s legacy and her significant contributions to California Indian law.

In her short career, Janet K. Bill has made a substantial impact in advancing the interests of Tribal communities in California, especially when addressing missing and murdered indigenous people, meriting the Outstanding Young Attorney Award. “Chairperson Bill is at the forefront of combating California’s Missing And Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) crisis. Earlier this year, Chairperson Bill went to the Capitol in Sacramento for the first MMIP Day of Action and called on legislators for a historic investment of $200 million to build programs and services that prevent girls, women and people from becoming missing or murdered. Chairperson Bill is always the first to roll up her sleeves and get work done. As a lawyer, Chairperson Bill has shown us what a great advocate she has become for her Tribe, the state, and Indian Country as a whole,” said Cheyenne Sanders, CILA Board of Directors.

Dawn Sturdevant Baum and Chairperson Janet K. Bill will be celebrated during the CILA Awards Dinner on Monday, October 2, 2023 at 6:00 PM, during the 23rd Annual California Indian Law Conference, which is being held October 2-3, 2023 at Graton Resort and Casino. All are welcome. More information is available at


Dawn Sturdevant Baum

Dawn Sturdevant Baum (Mole Lake Band of Chippewa, Menominee) was the General Counsel for the Yurok Tribe. Dawn is remembered for her kindness and her leadership.

At the Yurok Tribe she developed a mentorship program for young attorneys and paralegals and inspired several young tribal members to continue their education and develop advocacy skills. Dawn had a gift for bringing out the best in people. For six years she was Adjunct Professor of Indian Law at University of Tulsa College of Law, teaching Indian education and gaming law classes after work in her “free time.” As part of her work with the Yurok she went to Egypt in November 2022 for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) where she spoke about the importance of using indigenous knowledge with sovereignty in addressing the climate crisis.

She had a unique gift for connecting with people, and connecting others, whether in Indian Country or some faraway corner of the world. She relished travel and time in nature and took time to experience as much of life as she possibly could as a solo pursuit or with friends and family. She made new friends wherever she went and traveled extensively, most recently paddling 90 miles down the Douro River in Portugal. Some of her other trips included Italy, France, Iceland and all 50 states. Dawn was creative and artistic, she appreciated the arts and could often be found at wine and paint nights or working on beading and basket weaving.

Sadly, Dawn passed away on June 10 of this year. CILA is proud to honor Dawn Baum.


Honorable Janet K. Bill

Janet K. Bill is the Tribal Council Chairperson for the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians. Chairperson Bill graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, in 2012 and a Master of Arts degree in 2013. She received a Juris Doctor degree from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in 2020, specializing in Indian Law and was honored with the highest distinction for her amount of pro bono hours. Ms. Bill is currently a licensed Attorney through the State Bar of California and was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Sierra Unified School District. She was the first Native American to serve in this distinguished position in the school district’s 100-year existence.

Chairperson Bill’s work experience includes: assisting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tribal healthcare initiatives; working for the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians’ AOA (Elders) Department and Indian Child Welfare Department; conducting legislative research for the Office of the Governor – State of California, Office of the Tribal Advisor; providing case counseling and site manager services at the Big Sandy Rancheria site for the OVCDC Tribal TANF; conducting legal assistance for Tribal communities with the ASU Indian Legal Clinic, Legal Department for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and the Office of General Counsel at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community; providing research services for the ASU Indian Legal Program; administering legislative analysis for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – Office of the Vice Chairman, Senator Udall; volunteering with the State of California Department of Justice – Office of Native American Affairs on its Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples awareness initiative; serving Tribal clients in various aspects of the law at the Berkey Williams LLP law firm; and serving her Tribe as Tribal Council Chairperson.

While staying dedicated to serving Tribal Communities, Ms. Bill consistently promotes Tribal economic development initiatives and preserving our cultural traditions for generations to come.


About CILA: The California Indian Law Association, Inc. (“CILA”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization dedicated to serving as a strong representative of the Indian law profession in Tribal communities across California. The 23rd Annual California Indian Law Conference will be hosted in-person at Graton Resort Casino on October 2-3, 2023. For the full agenda and details, visit the CILA website:


August 3, 2023

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