"When people come together in the right way, we can move mountains. We are the mountain."
-- Michelle Cook
Michelle L. Cook is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and born of the Honághááhnii (One Who Walks Around You) clan. She is a Commissioner on the Navajo Human Rights Commission established to collect data regarding discriminatory acts against citizens of the Navajo Nation. Click here to view Michelle's complete work history.
In 2015, Michelle received her Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from the University of New Mexico School of Law with a certificate in Federal Indian law and is, currently, a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) Candidate at the University of Arizona's Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program. Her dissertation concerns the intersections of indigenous human rights, divestment, and gender in the United States. Michelle has received major grants and fellowships opportunities including a Fulbright Fellowship to study indigenous justice and customary legal systems in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Click here for Michelle's complete educational history.
Michelle frequently engages in public advocacy and speaking. She is a founding member of the Water Protector Legal Collective creating legal infrastructure for indigenous peoples encamped in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. She created an intersectional indigenous-led divestment campaign “The Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation to Europe” calling for European banks and institutions to divest from fossil fuels in support of indigenous peoples human rights. Her work has been featured in Reuters and has been interviewed by Glamour, The Guardian, and Cultural Survival International. She has also has testified before UN bodies and representatives.
In March 2017, Michelle was featured in Glamour magazine's "Show Up. Be YOU. Fashion, beauty & activism on your terms" edition. The article titled, "Raise Your Voice", features six select women advocates who are using their voice to raise awareness for various causes.
Glamour magazine writes, "Cook, from the Honághááhnii clan of the Diné, or Navajo Nation, is a lawyer who has devoted her life to raising awareness about staggering statistics like the fact that one in four Native American women will be raped in her lifetime - but that perpetrators of sexual crimes (86 percent of whom are non-Native) rarely face justice because of gaps in tribal, state, and federal laws. Cook has also documented human rights abuses at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock."
"I hope I can prove that we as the first Americans are here and still standing strong and walking in beauty."
- Michelle L. Cook