New Attorney Brings Indian Country Experience


The Legislative Branch took another step toward the development of a Revisor’s Offifice with the hire of Joaquin Gallegos, an attorney from the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the Pueblo of Santa Ana in New Mexico.

Joaquin Gallegos

Joaquin started October 15 in the role of legislative staff attorney. His job is to assist with the revision of existing statutes and the development of new ones.

"The legislature serves the people, so we will be out in the community, and I look forward to meeting the people of the Mille Lacs Band and learning from them along the way," said Joaquin.

From health care to politics

Joaquin’s initial career goal was to become a dentist, but when he enrolled in college at the University of Colorado at Denver, he found a job with the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health at the University’s Anschutz Medical Campus.

"I got to see how policy influenced Indian health care on the ground and decided to use my talent in that arena rather than patient care," he said.

After college, Joaquin continued learning about the importance of policy and law. He worked for former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan at the Aspen Institute, helping to develop policy on health care, child welfare, and environmental protection.

"That really cemented my interest in going to law school," Joaquin said.

During law school, Joaquin worked for Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico in Washington, D.C., where he learned about Mille Lacs as an innovator and leading voice in Indian Country.

"I realized Mille Lacs would be a fantastic place to learn from and contribute to, given my skills and interests," he added.

From Dorgan and Udall, who are both known for working across the aisle, Joaquin learned the value of listening to a variety of voices in order to craft better policy.

He also learned the importance of ensuring that people have the resources to lead healthy lives, including education and job security.

"When people are healthy, their children are able to thrive and succeed," Joaquin said. "Ultimately, when we create envi- ronments where people are happy and secure and not prone to self-medicate, the community thrives."