Geoffrey Blackwell serves as the general counsel and chief of staff of the National Congress of American Indians. He is a recognized expert in tribal economic and corporate development as well as communications infrastructure deployment. Blackwell’s work with American Indian tribes, Alaska Native Villages, and Native Hawaiians has taken him to some of the most remote regions in the United States and to other Indigenous communities worldwide.
In 2020, Blackwell was a recipient of Public Knowledge’s IP3 Internet Protocol Award for his broadband policy advocacy on behalf of tribal nations. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on seven occasions and before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights—both as a tribal representative and as a senior federal regulator and policymaker.
Blackwell is active with national organizations that provide tribal nations and Native communities with services and advocacy. He serves on the board of the Native American Rights Fund and is the vice president of the advisory board for the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University. Blackwell previously served on the boards of the National Small Business Association, National Federation of Community Broadcasters, Native Public Media, Acoma Pueblo Business Enterprises, and Indigenous Commission for Communications Technologies in the Americas.
Blackwell’s past roles include serving as the first chief strategy officer and general counsel for AMERIND Risk Management Corporation, where he was the executive manager of the Legal, Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources, Corporate Communications, and Critical Infrastructure Broadband teams.
In 2010, Blackwell was the founding chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Office of Native Affairs and Policy. He was responsible for developing an agency-wide regulatory agenda to bring modern communications technologies to tribal communities nationwide. Earlier, in 2000, Blackwell became the first enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe to work at the FCC, where he served as a senior attorney and the agency’s first formal liaison to tribal governments. During his time at the FCC, he worked on seminal FCC tribal programs and policies, including Universal Service Fund programs and carrier designations, spectrum licensing, tower siting, and radio and TV broadcast licensing. He helped oversee economic subsidy regulations for hundreds of companies.
Between his two periods of federal service, Blackwell served as a corporate director at Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc., helping structure, develop, and guide more than a dozen diverse LLCs and federal contracting companies. He began his legal career in the corporate litigation department of Hale and Dorr, LLP, in Boston.
Raised in Oklahoma and New Mexico and having spent significant time as a young adult in Washington, D.C., Blackwell comes from a family of tribal leaders and federal officials dedicated to service in Indian Country. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia School of Law. Blackwell is Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Omaha.