Native American Congressional Internship

Meet our Interns - Alumni Spotlights - Jordan Thompson

I’m the Associate General Counsel for SXʷNQ̓EʔELS L SUW̓EČM / KSUKⱠIⱠMUMAⱠ ʾA•K̓͏AⱠMUKWAʾITS, Inc., which are Salish and Kootenai names that mean “keepers of the lightning.” It’s a powerful name; we asked the Salish and the Kootenai cultural committees for input, and that’s what they came up with for us. The name we do business as is Energy Keepers, Inc.

We’re getting ready to buy Kerr Dam on September 5, 2015. It’s really exciting; we’ll be the first Tribes in the nation to own and operate a major hydropower facility. I help the company and the Tribes to navigate the issues that come along with this. There is a lot on my plate. Every day brings different issues; one day I’m doing employment, the next day the Columbia River, and the next day I’m working on water rights.

What I really like about the job is that because we’re a Tribal energy company; everything I do benefits the Salish & Kootenai, and I hope is of benefit to all of Indian country. I hope that Energy Keepers can serve as a model for other Tribes for developing their resources in a sustainable way. I hope other Tribes will look at us and say, that’s how the Salish & Kootenai did it. By becoming more independent, we’re practicing true sovereignty.

I grew up in Spokane, Washington, but I always had the goal to live on the Flathead Reservation. I’m really proud that I actually made that happen. I feel so blessed to live here. I have a house up in the woods, and I feel the connection with all my relatives; with the woods; and with the rabbits, birds, and deer that visit my yard. I think that when you see how you fit into the bigger picture, you want to do what’s right for everything.

This is the reason I’m here—to use the gifts I was given to benefit the Flathead Reservation. I don’t know where this comes from; to me it feels natural, like breathing. This is what life is all about. I think some people have lost sight of that; they’re caught up in western values of individualism, the me, me, me culture. We’re all in this together, and if you can get to what’s truly important, it’s all about the community.

After I’d worked for my Tribe for about a year, I wanted more experience so that I could be the best energy attorney possible. Washington, D.C., is the ideal place for a young Indian law attorney. It’s the hub of Indian law and policy, where the decisions are made and where the major players are. When I was a Udall Intern, I hated the city at first. It was too fast, too noisy, and the people I met were consumed with advancing themselves and their careers. But I really liked my fellow interns, and it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.

Anyone who wants to do Indian law should apply for the Udall Internship and experience Washington, D.C. The relationships you make in just one summer will last a lifetime. The Udall network is invaluable —I’ve formed life-long friendships as a result.