How this Googler lifts up Indigenous communities

How did you get into law?

I didn’t initially anticipate practicing law as a career. Entering college, I was set on a degree in education with a plan to teach high-school English, thanks to the influence of my primary school teachers.

While studying for my master’s in education, I became particularly interested in educational disparities, like why are some children afforded a better education and more resources than others? I began researching laws to educate myself and started to realize that a law degree could help me affect positive change. In some sense, I really fell into a law degree by virtue of following my passions and natural curiosity.

What shaped your interest in tech?

Technology, its importance and impact in the world, wasn’t something I spent much time thinking about while in Montana. Instead of video conferences and emails, I was picking up the phone to connect through a landline or showing up to have a cup of coffee.

But the more I learned about the tech industry, the more I discovered how much it could be used for good. I saw how this was the future and how it could connect my family and community to opportunities in a more equitable way. It’s why I participated in a Wi-Fi connectivity project with GAIN, Google’s Aboriginal and Indigenous Employee Resource Group. It’s how I found the ability to connect my education degrees to tech law. At Google, I’ve been able to do both.

How do you connect your work at Google to the causes you care about?

Giving back and engaging in community is critical in my life. Leaving the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana is still something that pains me to this day. Leaving family has always been a challenge for me, but sharing my culture and raising awareness on issues facing Indigenous people has filled the void of missing home. Since joining Google, I’ve had the opportunity to provide awareness through various channels, including a Talks at Google interview with activist Kimberly Loring HeavyRunner and a Careers on Air virtual event celebrating Google’s Aboriginal and Indigenous communities.

Native Forward, the U.S.’s largest scholarship program for Native students with more than 16,000 recipients from over 500 Tribes, provided the funding to support my law school education. Recently, I was part of a group of Googlers who reviewed its scholarship applications, and I donate monthly via our internal platform that allows for company matching.

In addition to the work I do at Google, I also started a company, TPMOCS, in 2014, specializing in handcrafting children’s moccasins. We employ Native American artisans in rural communities and give a portion of profits to organizations on reservations supporting children in need.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

During a trip back home to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, I spent time with family and elders, and had a traditional naming ceremony for my children. I also had time to reflect on my life choices. Some, if given the chance, I would do over, but one that I’ve never second guessed is joining Google. As I speak at events, I’d like Indigeous youth and young professionals to know that you too can pursue a career in tech and still remain true to yourself. Representation matters and working at Google provides me with a platform to highlight interests and issues close to my heart. Google welcomes our voices.

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