Cheryl Demmert Fairbanks (Tlingit-Tsimshian) directs the Native American Budget and Policy Institute, which conducts research, budget and policy analysis, social justice advocacy, and litigation to empower Native American communities to create self-determined and systematic change that will improve their health, education, and economic well-being. Ms. Fairbanks has had a long career in Indian law as an attorney and tribal court of appeals justice.
Formerly a Partner at Cuddy McCarthy LLP, she had a general practice in Indian law, including tribal-state relations, personnel, tribal courts, peacemaking and family conferencing, mediation, family, school, education, and indigenous law. She recently was in Oregon serving as the Walter R. Echo-Hawk Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Lewis and Clark and was a visiting Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico’s Southwest Indian Law Clinic. Ms. Fairbanks was also a partner with the law firm of Roth, VanAmberg, Rogers, Ortiz, Fairbanks & Yepa, LLP, where she specialized in Indian law. She worked as a senior policy analyst with the New Mexico Office of Indian Affairs in the area of state-tribal relations. There, she was instrumental in establishing the Indian Child Welfare Desk, New Mexico Office of Indian Tourism, the University of New Mexico Indian Law Clinic, and the passage of the New Mexico Indian Arts and Crafts Act.
Prior to her law career, she served as a teacher for the Albuquerque Public Schools, Zia Day School, and Administrator for Acomita Day School and the Albuquerque/Santa Fe Indian Schools. Ms. Fairbank was born in Ketchikan, Alaska.
BA from Fort Lewis College
J.D. from University of New Mexico School of Law