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Robert Odawi Porter

Robert Odawi Porter is an innovative tribal advocate who has devoted his 25-year professional career to advancing the rights of sovereign American Indian nations and tribes in the United States.  A citizen of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Rob was raised in the Nation’s Allegany Territory and earned his education from Syracuse University and Harvard Law School.  He served two terms as Seneca chief legal counsel, as founding chairman of Seneca Holdings LLC, and, in 2010, was elected as the Seneca Nation’s 67thPresident.

Rob has also served as a tenured law professor at the University of Kansas, the University of Iowa, and Syracuse University, and written numerous academic articles on tribal law and governance and a book, “Sovereignty, Colonialism, and the Indigenous Nations; A Reader.”  He is the founder of the Tribal Law and Government Center at the University of Kansas.

A proven advocate, Rob has served a lead role in major conflicts with the U.S. federal and state governments to protect tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, including efforts to stop New York State from taxing Seneca commerce and lobbying for the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014, which ended the practice of IRS auditing of Indians for benefits received from their tribal governments.  Rob developed the strategy that led to a $210 million settlement with a state government to resolve a gaming exclusivity dispute, and led efforts to oppose various federal regulatory agencies from interfering with tribal government operations.

Most recently, Rob served as a Senior Advisor at Dentons US LLP, the world’s largest law firm.

Experience areas

·    Treaty rights protection and expansion

·    US, state and global government relations

·    Tribal constitutional, governmental and legal development

·    Taxation, economic development and tribal empowerment

·    Tobacco regulation

·    Crisis management

Congressional testimony

US Senate

·    Finance Committee, hearing on “Tax Reform: What It Could Mean for Tribes and Territories,” May 15, 2012

·    Indian Affairs Committee, hearing on Internet gaming, February 9, 2012

US House of Representatives

·    Subcommittee on Health, Employment and Labor & Pensions, hearing on HR 2335, Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2011, July 25, 2012

·    Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs, hearing on HR 3532, Trust Land Conversion to Restricted Fee, February 7, 2012

Activities and Affiliations

Seneca Nation of Indians