So, in a major shocker that has Grand Traverse Band’s tribal council all over the news in Indian Country, GTB General Counsel John Petoskey has been terminated after 23 years with the tribe. His legal career isn’t over, to be sure, but here is a snapshot view of his contributions to the law.
GTB and Indian Country owe JP a very sincere debt of gratitude (as do I for teaching me everything I know). The following is just a snapshot, and if anyone sends me something I forgot or didn’t know about, I’ll include it ASAP:
Federal Court Cases
- Grand Traverse Band v. United States Attorney, 198 F. Supp. 420 (W.D. Mich. 2002), aff’d, 369 F.3d 960 (6th Cir. 2004) — JP masterminded the legal theories on restored lands/restored tribes that were adopted by the NIGC and later approved by two federal courts in the case, as well as several federal court decisions that followed.
- Tribes v. Michigan/Engler (1990-2001) — JP represented GTB through these various cases, starting with the IGRA good faith lawsuit filed against the state and then later Gov. Engler, followed by the two suits reopening the case on grounds that Engler breached the agreement when the state granted licenses to open the Detroit casinos and then then the state entered into compacts with other tribes.
- U.S. v. Michigan (1987-2007) — JP has been involved as an attorney for GTB in this case since he returned from New Mexico in 1987. Perhaps his greatest contribution, however, is as an active participant in the fishing wars of the 1970s, as documented in George Weeks’ Mem-Ka-Weh.
- Carcieri v. Salazar — JP first recommended the GTB serve as a primary amicus in the case since it reached the First Circuit in 2003, all the way the Supreme Court.
- U.S. v. Abeyta (D. N.M. 1986) — co-counsel to Jim Anaya in successfully defending on First Amendment grounds Isleta Pueblo member from federal prosecution for taking a bald eagle
State Court Cases
- State v. Ryder (N.M. 1982) — JP successfully argued that tribal officers have authority to stop and detain non-Indian criminal suspects.
- 2007 U.S. Michigan Inland Treaty Rights Consent Decree
- 2004 Michigan-Tribal Tax Agreement
- 1993 Class III Gaming Compact, though the consent decree/stipulation in Tribes v. Michigan settlement
- Grand Traverse Resort and Spa (2003, and later refinancing) — JP spearheaded the due diligence and financing work on this $60-something million purchase.
- Turtle Creek Casino and Resort — handled most every expansion and financing from its inception in 1996
- Hudson’s Lease agreement — Mid-90s plan to open an off-reservation casino in downtown Detroit, blocked when Gov. Engler arbitrarily refused to consent — the big fish that got away.
- JP has recommended that GTB support (both financially and in kind) the nascent NCAI/NARF Tribal Supreme Court Project from its inception in 2001.
- JP’s worked to assist GTB restore its land base through the trust acquisition process.
- JP first headed the GTB Economic Development Authority, then later did the work to transform the EDA into a Section 17 corporation.
- JP wrote 60 … 70 … 80 … 90???? percent of the Grand Traverse Band Code and a like number of tribal council resolutions and ordinances.
- JP spearheaded the codification of GTB law.
- JP represented the tribal government in most every major tribal court case prosecuted in the GTB court system, notably In re McSauby (the Marbury v. Madison of the GTB tribal court).
- JP wrote portions of George Weeks’ history of the Grand Traverse Band.
- As “John Petosky,” wrote a chapter in a Vine Deloria-edited collection on the applicability of the First Amendment in Indian religious freedom cases, sadly predicting cases like Lyng, Smith, and Navajo Nation v. USFS.
- As a law student, JP worked with Michigan Indian Legal Services in the late 1970s to do the groundwork on preserving Indian land claims in Michigan.
- And JP is a PLSI grad and a PLSI tutor.
- JP worked with outside counsel (Mary Streitz) in securing an IRS private letter ruling allowing deferred taxation of tribal children’s trust fund money deriving from gaming per cap payments
- JP wrote the Grand Traverse Band section in the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act (P.L. 105-143)
In short, John is a legend in the history of the Grand Traverse Band.