Derek Red Arrow Frank
Attorney | Yakima
Derek Red Arrow is the co-leader and co-founder of the firm’s American Indian Law Practice. Derek Red Arrow is an associate in the Litigation practice, where he assists clients with litigation and business disputes involving taxation, trade, contract, and issues of Federal Indian law.
Derek joins Stokes Lawrence with a passion for advocacy and an entrepreneurial spirit. He has worked as a staff attorney for the Yakama Nation Office of Legal Counsel where he represented Yakama Nation in administrative, state, and federal trial and appellate courts on issues involving treaty rights, water rights, economic development, and tribal sovereignty. Derek is a former federal law clerk to Chief U.S. District Court Judge Brian M. Morris of the U.S. District Court of Montana. He also served as a law clerk for Nez Perce Tribe, Earthjustice, and the Civil Rights Unit at the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Yakama Nation Tribal Court
Seattle University School of Law, J.D., 2018
- Editor-in-Chief, The American Indian Law Journal
- Douglass R. Nash Native American Law Scholar, Full-Tuition Scholarship Recipient
- Co-Vice President, Native American Law Student Association
- Seattle University, Bachelor of Political Science and Business Administration, 2015
Recognition & Honors
- Successful Indigenous Role Model: Lapwai School District, Nez Perce Tribe (2022)
- Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch (2023 - 2024) - Native American Law
Publications & Presentations
- "Diversity Through Experience," keynote address, LawYours High School Outreach Program, Seattle University School of Law (August 9, 2023)
- “Off-Reservation Rights as-applied to Economic Development,” presenter – Race, Law, and Society: Indigenous People’s Seminar, Case Western Reserve University School of Law (April 17, 2023)
- “Finding Balance in Your Profession,” presenter – Seattle University School of Law’s Coffee with Counsel (March 28, 2023)
- “Sovereignty, Tribal Interests, and Conservation: Threading a Multi-Interested Landscape,” panelist – Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (March 3, 2023)
- “Not for Ourselves, but for Those that Come,” keynote speaker, Public Interest Environmental Law Conference – Western Environmental Law Center’s Special Reception (March 2, 2023)
- “What is Blood Quantum?” presenter – Nez Perce Radio’s ‘The Conversation’ (Nov. 11, 2022)
- “Off-Reservation Treaty Rights,” presenter – Stokes Lawrence Law Seminar (Oct. 27, 2022)
- "The HEAL Act & Environmental Injustice," co-presenter, Washington Attorney General's Office Indian Law CLE (December 14, 2022)
- "Stokes Lawrence Presents: Off Reservation Treaty Rights," presenter, Stokes Lawrence webinar series (October 27, 2022)
- 2022 Indian Law Section CLE, host and emcee, Washington State Bar Association (June 2022)
- "Native American Heritage Month: What is Federal Indian Law?," presenter, Stokes Lawrence Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lunch & Learn (2021)
- “A Hell of a Complex: the Miscarriages of the Federal Hydropower Licensing Regime,” author, Law Review Article, American Indian Law Journal: Vol. 6: Iss. 1, Art. 5 (2017)
Derek Red Arrow Frank created a “first-of-its-kind” Traditional Restorative Justice and Therapy Plan supported by the Yakama Nation Tribal Court and Yakama Nation Elders. Restorative Justice in Indian Country occurs when a Tribal Nation exercises its sovereign authority to consider and/or develop alternative justice programs using traditional knowledge and wisdom. Here, Derek represented a tribal member in tribal court regarding a domestic dispute. Knowing that the anglo-type punishment of incarceration rarely provides long-term solutions, he partnered with Yakama Leaders and Elders to design an Elder’s Panel that would implement a twelve (12) month Treatment Plan pursuant to Yakama Tribal Customs and Traditions.
When presented to the Court, both the Judge and the Tribal Prosecutor thanked him for his work and stated they would continue to use the Treatment Plan as an alternative to typical incarceration, noting that the long-term health of its membership should be grounded in traditional knowledge and wisdom.
Derek Red Arrow Frank and Brendan Monahan assisted Cougar Den, Inc. in its U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief, which asks the Supreme Court to review a Ninth Circuit decision which effectively abrogated the Snoqualmie Tribe’s hunting rights absent a Congressional Act. The case began in 2019 when Washington State, a non-treaty party, determined that Snoqualmie lacked off-reservation hunting and fishing rights. Looking to the federal courts to uphold the words of its Treaty, Snoqualmie challenged the state’s unlawful determination. Rather than honor the actions of the Legislative and Executive Branches of Government, the Ninth Circuit broke from the Judiciary’s role to abrogate Snoqualmie’s Treaty rights via the discretionary rule of issue preclusion.
"This cannot happen," says Derek Red Arrow, "Treaties represent intergovernmental agreements between sovereign nations, entered into by the Executive and ratified by Congress pursuant to the United States Constitution. The Judiciary’s role is to interpret the ratified treaties; it is unable to abrogate Treaty terms without clear congressional direction. The lower courts violated this Constitutional mandate. The Supreme Court should grant certiorari to stable the balance of federal power to align with the Constitution and longstanding principles of Indian policy.”
Successfully affirmed before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, that under an 1855 treaty between the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and the United States, the Yakama Nation’s Reservation included an additional 200,000 acre tract of land, known as Tract D. Yakama Nation v. Klickitat Cnty. (2021)
Drafted a comprehensive Tribal Hemp Code approved by the United States Dept. of Agriculture, granting complete and total regulatory control over all Hemp Production within the territories of the Yakama Nation. (2021)
Professional & Community Activities
- Member, Washington State Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Section (2022-present)
- Successful Indigenous Role Model, Nez Perce Tribe's Lapwai School District (2022 - present)
- Board of Directors, Western Environmental Law Center (2022 - present)
- At-Large Executive Board Member, CLE Committee Member, and Mentorship Committee Member for the Washington State Bar Association’s Indian Law Section (2021 – present)
- Member, Yakima County Bar Association (2019 - Present)
- Tribal Tax Advisory Group Sub-Committee Chair, Washington State Dept. of Revenue (2019 - 2021)
- Guest Speaker, Contemporary Issues in Indian Law, Seattle University Law School (2021)
- Guest Lecturer, indigenous and environmental advocacy, Environmental Justice Class, Bellevue College
- Guest Lecturer, Nez Perce Culture Camp
- Student Keynote Speaker, Indigenous People’s Day, Seattle University
- NALSA Advocate, Seattle University’s transition from Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day
Background & Interests
Derek is an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe (the Nimiipuu) and has lived throughout the Pacific Northwest. Prior to his legal career, Derek owned and operated a small business in Redmond, Washington, training clientele for Adventure Races, Ironman Triathlon, and other athletic competitions, which Derek continues to participate in himself. Derek's other interests include mountaineering, orienteering, and competitive swimming. Outside of these activities, Derek enjoys traveling and creating memories with his family.