John Sledd

John Sledd

“John Sledd is a top-notch attorney who has a longstanding reputation as well as excellent litigation and risk evaluation skills.”

– Chambers USA


John Sledd joined Kanji & Katzen as of-counsel in 2006 and became a member of the firm in 2012.  In January, 2022, John returned to an of-counsel role.  John works in the Seattle office of Kanji & Katzen and may be contacted at**

Education:  John graduated from the University of Montana School of Forestry in 1979, earning a B.S. degree, With Honors, in Natural Resources Conservation, where he won the Outstanding Senior Award and wrote his thesis on Indian mineral development.  In 1982 he received a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall), where he was News and Comments Editor of the Ecology Law Quarterly.

Prior Experience: John was Director of Litigation, from 1986-1989, at DNA People’s Legal Services, Inc., where he served as General Counsel to the nation’s largest Indian legal services program and supervised attorney staff in eight offices in three states.

Before becoming Director of Litigation at DNA, John served as DNA Deputy Director of Litigation, Managing Attorney, and Attorney, from 1982-1986. His practice emphasized consumer, disability, and Indian and public land cases, including claims by Indian allotment owners for damages from uranium contamination and a class action to establish 14,000 allotment owners’ title to coal and other minerals under their land.

John served as Tribal Attorney for the Suquamish Tribe of Washington, from 1989-1999, where he was General Counsel, prosecutor, and ICW presenting officer. His practice emphasized litigation and negotiations over treaty rights, gaming, jurisdiction, and other matters. He obtained a large judgment against BIA for improper denial of a tribal 638 contract, represented the Tribe in a $24 million settlement over pollution from Seattle city sewers, and negotiated a state-tribal-federal settlement governing health and sanitation regulation of tribal shellfish harvests.

From 1999-2004, John was the Director of the Native American Project of Evergreen Legal Services in Seattle, Washington. As Director he supervised a statewide project that provided free civil legal services to low income Indian individuals. He conducted litigation and Congressional and administrative advocacy that emphasized allotted land, Indian probate, and protection of trust assets of minors and the disabled.

From 2004-2006, John was the Senior Attorney for the Native American Unit of the Northwest Justice Project in Seattle, Washington, a statewide project that provided free legal services to low income Indian individuals. John developed tribal court public defender, Indian will drafting, and public school student rights projects.

Areas of Concentration:

  • Federal litigation
  • Treaty rights
  • Allotted lands
  • Land use and environment

Awards and Honors:

  • President’s Award, Northwest Indian Bar Association, 2009.
  • Pierce-Hickerson Award, National Association of Indian Legal Services, 2004

Community Service:

  • Ninth Circuit Lawyer representative, Western District of Washington, 2019-present.
  • Associate Justice, Southern Ute Tribe Court of Appeals, 2016-present.
  • Officer and Director, DNA People’s Legal Services, Inc., 2016-2020.
  • Officer and Board Member, Kitsap County Historical Society, 2012-present.
  • Board member, Kitsap Conservation Voters, 2008-2016.
  • Associate Justice, Tulalip Tribes Court of Appeals, 2004-present.
  • Central Kitsap Community Council, 1998-99.  Appointed by County Commissioners.
  • Elected Commissioner, Port of Brownsville, Washington, 1993-1999.
  • Central Committee and Executive Board, Kitsap County Democratic Party, 1994-96.
  • Chair, Indian Law Section, Washington State Bar Association, 1994.
  • Board Member, Indian Law Support Center at Native American Rights Fund, 1986-1989.

Personal Interests:  John keeps bees, breeds chiles, and he enjoys backpacking and fishing.  He also maintains a garden, both at home and on the deck outside his office.

Bar Memberships:

  • Washington State
  • Arizona State (inactive)
  • New Mexico State (inactive)
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals, Second and Ninth Circuits
  • United States Court of Federal Claims
  • United States District Courts, Arizona, New Mexico (inactive), Eastern Washington, and Western Washington
  • Hoh Tribe
  • Muckleshoot Tribe
  • Navajo Nation (1985-90)
  • Quileute Tribe
  • Quinault Tribe
  • Suquamish Tribe
  • Tulalip Tribes

Publications and Presentations

  • Representing Native American Survivors of Domestic Violence:  a Primer, at Federal Bar Ass’n of the Western Dist. Of Washington/U.S. District Court POWER Act CLE, September, 2019, and August 2021.
  • Democratizing Treaty Rights:  The Culverts Sub-proceeding of United States v. Washington; at “Belloni at 50” Seminar, Lewis & Clark School of Law, Portland, OR, October 2019
  • The Supreme Court Decision in U.S. v. Washington Subproceeding 01-1: Barrier Culverts Reach the End of the Road, at 31st Annual University of Washington Indian Law Seminar, September, 2018
  • The 150 Year Struggle of Washington Tribes to Protect Tribal Fishing Rights, public lecture sponsored by Outer Coast College and the Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka, AK, July, 2018
  • This Paper Secures Your Fish: Using Treaty Promises to Protect Off-Reservation Habitat, at Federal Bar Association Indian Law Conference, Scottsdale, AZ, April, 2017
  • Using Tribal Rights to Protect Tribal Resources, at U.S. Dept. of Justice, National Advocacy Center seminar, Wildlife and Pollution Enforcement Issues Affecting Tribal Lands, Columbia, S.C., June, 2015
  • Washington Civil Procedure Deskbook, Ch. 82.5, Tribal Court Jurisdiction (Wash. St. Bar Ass’n, 2014) (editor)
  • The Culvert Case: Do Tribal Treaty Fishing Rights Imply a State Duty to Provide Fish Passage?, at Center for Environmental Law and Policy CLE, July, 2013
  • Ethical Issues in Tribal Court, at Washington State Bar Ass’n 24th Annual American Indian Law Seminar, June, 2012
  • The Culverts Case – Update on Implementation, at seminar, Comprehensive Review of Hydropower in the Northwest, Seattle, November, 2011
  • The Culverts Sub-proceeding of U.S. v. Washington, at Washington State Bar Ass’n 22nd Annual American Indian Law Seminar, May, 2010
  • New Developments: Treaty Rights/Harvest Issues, at seminar, Fisheries and Hatcheries, Seattle, May, 2010
  • Washington Real Property Deskbook, Ch. 5, Indian Property Interests and Property Subject to Tribal regulation (Wash. St. Bar Ass’n 2009) (editor)
  • Culverts and Condemnation Authority:  Limitations on the Use of Eminent Domain for Salmon Restoration, at Washington State Bar Ass’n Environmental and Land Use section Mid-year Seminar, May, 2008
  • Events Leading to the American Indian Probate Reform Act, at Montana State University conference, Inheriting Indian Land, April, 2007, and at Seattle University School of Law conference, Understanding the American Indian Probate Reform Act, March, 2006, and at University of Wisconsin, Madison, May, 2005
  • Justice Across Borders, 9th Annual Trina Grillo Public Interest and Social Justice Retreat, Seattle University School of Law, March, 2007
  • Indian Probate, Washington State Bar Association Advanced Probate Seminar, April 2005, and Washington State Bar Association Best of CLE, 2005
  • Washington Probate Deskbook, Ch.12, Tribal and Federal Probate of Native American Estates (Wash. St. Bar Ass’n 2005) (author)
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