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Home » Issues & Actions » Fellowships » Equal Justice Works - Jacklyn Velasquez

Equal Justice Works - Jacklyn Velasquez

Jacklyn Velasquez

Originally a California native, Jacklyn is a 2017 Vermont Law School graduate and member of the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley. During law school, she was an Environmental Mission Scholar, active in her Native American Law Student Association chapter and returned to her tribe to complete two separate projects with the Big Pine Paiute Tribe Environmental Department. Jacklyn started her Fellowship at MEA in September of 2017.


The Project

Engage Tribes to hold Wisconsin accountable to Clean Water Act (CWA) by legally and technically assisting a collaboration that assesses and addresses Tribes’ risks from the State’s regulatory failures.


Need Addressed by Project

Failures in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (WDNR) administration of the federal CWA were documented in a Petition for Corrective Action filed by MEA, and in a report by the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau. Public health, cultural practices and governmental sovereignty are all compromised by WDNR failure to comply with the CWA. Degradation puts Wisconsin tribes at special risk of harm as they depend on intact wild places for their cultural and nutritional well-being.


Project Details

In the first year, Jacklyn:

  • Built on and deepened existing relationships between MEA and various Wisconsin tribes; and
  • Worked with Wisconsin tribes to identify areas of environmental concern throughout the State. Consultation deficiencies based on tribal expectations quickly gained priority among identified concerns ;and
  • Identified and engaged core members of tribal communities for participation in an Advisory Committee that would inform Project through Tribal perspectives provided by participants sensitive to deep cultural values of water while respecting the sovereignty of Tribal governments; and
  • Engaged the Advisory Committee to assist in identifying key water-based cultural practices and tribal treaty rights that need to be protected for fishing, wild rice beds, and other traditional rights; and
  • Researched and explored legal options that Wisconsin tribes may use to leverage WDNR compliance with water quality standards; and
  • Facilitate network-building meetings with project stakeholders in EPA Region 5 and WDNR, focusing on consultation and water-related statues, rules, and policies.

What’s Next?

In the final year, Jacklyn plans to:

  •  Produce memoranda of legal and other related options for Wisconsin tribes; and
  • Continue building coalition of partners  that will work with Wisconsin tribes to implement recommendations moving forward; and
  • Create and provide discrete legal advocacy tools to Wisconsin tribes; and
  • Continue attempts to facilitate network-building meetings with agencies and project stakeholders at WDNR focusing on consultation and water related statutes, rules and policies. 

How Can I Learn More?

  • Email or call Jacklyn to learn about or participate on the Advisory Committee, which is comprised of tribal community members, staff and leaders. This Committee works to ensure the Project focus continues to benefit Wisconsin tribal communities; and
  • Sign up to receive Wisconsin environmental news from MEA; and
  • Email or call Jacklyn to share information or concerns about clean water impacts to Wisconsin tribal communities.

For more background information, visit the Equal Justice Works Fellowship web page.
To learn more about the project or for questions, comments or concerns contact:
Jacklyn Velasquez, J.D.
Equal Justice Works Fellow
Sponsored by Lynde Uihlein
jvelasquez@midwestadvocates.org
(608) 251-5047 ext.7