Wendell R. Matt works with tribal governments, tribally owned corporations, and their partners to achieve economic development goals while protecting tribal resources and sovereignty. Before joining Peebles Kidder, Mr. Matt worked for a large real estate developer advising on complex real estate finance, acquisition, disposition, and development matters throughout the southwestern United States. His experience includes office, retail, industrial, hospitality, senior living, health care, educational, gaming and lodging, and single-family and multi-family residential properties. Prior to assuming that role, Mr. Matt spent several years working in tribal government, advising tribal departments and tribal entities on a wide range of matters from governance to business and real estate transactions.
Wendell understands the importance of economic development to our tribal economies. He regularly assists tribes in establishing tribal business entities, obtaining financing for tribal economic development projects, and assisting with matters related to gaming, including land acquisitions, approval of land-into-trust applications, negotiation of tribal-state gaming compacts, the construction of gaming facilities and the management of such facilities, and representation of tribes in legal and political matters that arise after the completion and operation of gaming facilities. Mr. Matt also advises companies doing business in Indian Country, helping them navigate tribal and federal laws and contracts with tribal entities. Wendell is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation.
Economic Development; Environment & Natural Resources; Tribal Governments
Washington; Colorado; Arizona (pending); U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado; U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona; U.S. Tax Court; Tohono O’odham Nation Tribal Courts
University of Colorado Business School (M.B.A.); University of Montana School of Law (J.D.); University of Montana (B.A.)
Prior Legal Experience
Associate General Counsel, Robson Communities, Inc. (2019-2020); Executive Counsel, Tohono O’odham O’odham Nation of Arizona (2016-2019); Water Rights, Bureau of Indian Affairs (2015-2016); Attorney, Matt Legal Counsel (2014-2015); Law Clerk, Greenberg Traurig, LLP (2011-2013)
Prior Government Experience
After holding several high-level positions with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, Mr. Matt understands the most effective ways to communicate with Federal officials on tribal issues, including those related to the fee-to-trust process, tribal gaming approvals, and infrastructure, natural resource, and economic development projects on tribal lands.
Wendell most recently oversaw the Bureau’s water rights program in Washington, D.C., where he advised leadership on the management, use, conservation, and protection of federal reserved Indian water rights throughout the United States. Earlier in his career, Mr. Matt negotiated, reviewed, and approved numerous real estate transactions on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Interior and tribal governments, including surface and sub-surface leases, rights-of-way, and use permits.
- Lead counsel for tribe in negotiations with public electrical utility to obtain a highly preferential lease rate for a 9.5-mile easement over allottee and tribal trust lands.
- Lead counsel to tribal health care authority in negotiating design and construction contracts for new construction and renovations of a tribal hospital and multiple health care clinics.
- Counseled Native American nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization on reformation and retroactive reinstatement of its lost tax-exempt status.
- Lead counsel to four tribally-owned radio stations advising on employment, land use and easements, operations, contracting, and federal regulatory compliance matters; prepared, reviewed, and submitted federal FCC filings.
- Lead counsel in negotiations with BIA/DOI officials to return of 380± acres of federal reserve lands to tribal government ownership and control.
- Successfully secured a decision from the DOI to take tribal fee lands into trust for non-gaming purposes despite heavy opposition from a wealthier tribe.
Washington State Bar Association (2018 to present)
Colorado Symphony, Vice Chair, Associate Board (2013 to 2015)