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Attorney Achievement Award

The Indian Law Section Attorney Achievement Award gives the Section an opportunity to recognize the amazing accomplishments of its members. The Section includes some of the foremost Indian law practitioners in the country who have made important contributions to our profession and to our communities. The nominee for the Attorney Achievement Award must be a member of the Indian Law Section and the nomination must explain, in one page or less, the nature of the nominee's extraordinary achievements in Indian law and the nominee's contributions to the community.  

2021 Indian Law Section Attorney Achievement Award

Peter Chestnut, founder of Chestnut Office, P.A., is a graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard College. For over 30 years, Peter has represented Pueblo Indian Tribal governments and agencies with an emphasis on general counsel representation and water law. His contributions to his tribal clients and the field of Indian Law are indelible. Well respected by his colleagues throughout New Mexico and in Indian Country; Peter’s thoughtful, diligent, and professional approach to the practice of law is renowned. Peter founded the Chestnut Law Offices, P.A. which focuses primarily on Pueblo Indian tribal government and business representation.

Highlighting some of Peter’s many accomplishments, Peter has served as the counsel of record since 1981 for the Pueblo de San Ildefonso’s in the Aamodt Pueblo Indian Water rights adjudication and settlement. This leading Pueblo Water Rights case affirmed the legal nature of Pueblo Indian water rights, impacting all Pueblos in New Mexico. During Peter’s work in Aamodt he was involved in litigation, settlement negotiations, securing congressional approval, and remains involved in the ongoing implementation process. Peter also represents the Pueblo of Acoma in their ongoing water rights adjudication. This lawsuit, which is now over 30 years old is now in settlement negotiations to quantify Pueblo Indian water rights based on past and present uses. In addition, Peter has worked extensively in the creation, implementation, and defense of the legal basis for Class III Indian gaming and casino operations in New Mexico. Navigating tribal clients through the early days of Indian gaming, has in turn established Indian gaming as a major basis for local and tribal economic development.

The State Bar of New Mexico Indian Law Section is excited to share the many accomplishments of Peter with our colleagues in ILS. As such, we ask you await further announcement from ILS on an event in early 2022 to celebrate.

Attorney Achievement Award Recipients

2021 - Peter Chestnut

2020 - Richard W. Hughes

2019 - Christina S. West

2018 - Paul W. Spruhan

2017 - Rosalie "Lisa" Chavez

2016 - M.P. Gross and C. Bryant Rogers 



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