Mary Kathryn Nagle
Attorney; Playwright; Citizen of the Cherokee Nation
Mary Kathryn Nagle, an attorney specializing in federal Indian law and appellate litigation, works at the intersection of justice and drama to secure the rights and sovereignty of Native nations. An industry leader and advocate, Nagle frequently speaks on issues related to restoration of tribal sovereignty, tribal self-determination, Indian civil and constitutional rights, and safety of Native Women. An industry leader and advocate, Nagle frequently speaks on issues related to restoration of tribal sovereignty, tribal self-determination, Indian civil and constitutional rights, and safety of Native Women, and drafted numerous appellate briefs in federal courts, including federal appellate courts and the United States Supreme Court
In 2013, she represented seventeen current and former Members of Congress in an amicus brief submitted in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (the “Baby Veronica case”), before the United States Supreme Court. This amicus brief explained the legislative history of the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) and argued why the ICWA constitutes an exercise of Congress’s constitutional authority under the Indian Commerce Clause. Mary Kathryn has significant experience in briefing other issues of constitutional law related to federal Indian law, as well as cases that implicate statutory rights under Indian rights laws such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (“NAGPRA”). One of her assets is the depth of her trial work, as she has prepared for and litigated cases in the New York Supreme Court, United States Bankruptcy Court, and federal district courts across the country.
Prior to her work in the private sector, Mary Kathryn clerked for Judge Joseph Bataillon and Judge Laurie Smith Camp of the United States District Court, District of Nebraska, and then subsequently clerked for Judge Fortunato P. Benavides of the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mary Kathryn studied law at Tulane Law School, where she graduated summa cum laude and was the recipient of the Judge John Minor Wisdom Award. Her law review articles have been published in five different journals, including the Tulane Law Review and Tulsa Law Review.
She is a frequent speaker at law schools and symposia on issues related to restoration of tribal sovereignty, tribal self-determination, Indian civil and constitutional rights, and safety of Native Women. She also represents the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) in support of the NIWRC’s work to end violence against Native Women. Mary Kathryn is an accomplished playwright who has written and produced several plays relating to Indians and the law, including Waaxe’s Law, Manahatta, My Father’s Bones (with Suzan Shown Harjo), Miss Lead, Fairly Traceable, and Sliver of a Full Moon.
"As a Native woman working to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in the United States, I consider it an honor to join the Board of an organization committed to restoring human rights here within the United States and worldwide. A violation of one person's human's rights threatens all of our rights, and I look forward to working with RFK Human Rights to work for justice for all."
Mary Kathryn Nagle