Join special guest Washington Supreme Court Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis for a conversation about her career, in honor of our exhibition Moving Forward, Looking Back: Washington’s First Women in Government.
Justice Montoya-Lewis was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court by Gov. Jay Inslee in December 2019 and took the oath of office on Jan. 6, 2020. She is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Isleta and a descendant of the Pueblo of Laguna, two federally recognized tribes in New Mexico. She is the first enrolled member of any tribe to sit on a state supreme court in the US and the second Native American to sit on a state supreme court. She is also of Jewish descent.
Prior to becoming an Associate Justice, Montoya-Lewis served as a Superior Court judge for Whatcom County for five years, where she heard criminal and civil trials and presided over the Whatcom County Therapeutic Drug Court. In the 15 years prior to her work on the Superior Court, she served as a tribal court judge for multiple tribes in the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest. She served as Chief Judge for the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, the Nooksack Indian Tribe, and the Lummi Nation.
In addition to her work as a tribal court judge, she was a tenured Associate Professor at Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College where she taught law-related courses and courses on cultural identity development. She has continued to use her teaching skills as a jurist, teaching a wide variety of audiences including judges, social workers, lawyers, and advocates on implicit bias, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and best practices in child welfare and domestic violence cases.