Jim Keedy Walks On

Jim Keedy testifying before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in 2007.

Traverse City Record-Eagle notice here. From the statement issued by Michigan Indian Legal Services:

Jim Keedy was living proof of how fine a person can be. He was an excellent boss to the people and programs in his charge and a devoted husband to his wife, Cathy. He was also a good friend to many and a great colleague. The character of his life might be summed up in a few words: sincere, earnest, loyal.
Jim was a long-time poverty law attorney and was dedicated to the ideal of accessible legal aid, developing extensive outreach programs for Native rural communities in remote areas. He was also passionate about the importance of children being able to remain in their families and was an early champion for parents under the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act. Under Jim’s leadership, MILS provided assistance to 5 tribes obtaining federal recognition – the government-to-government relationship that allows for tribes to be able to successfully provide for their communities. He also believed in responsible government and was a champion for the individuals facing the weight of the system on them in tribal court cases. We will long remember Jim’s tenacity, and ability to meet difficult challenges.
Jim was a brilliant and visionary leader who achieved recognition for his work in the underserved Native American communities. Jim was the proud recipient of State Bar of Michigan American Indian Law Section’s Tecuseh Peacekeeping Award in 2004; the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) Foster Care Review Board’s Parent Attorney of the Year in 2018; the National Legal Aid and Defender Association’s Pierce-Hickerson Award also in 2018; and the Michigan State Bar Foundation’s Access to Justice Award in 2020.
As Executive Director at Michigan Indian Legal Services for over 30 years, Jim led his staff in such a way that he exemplified leadership. He gave inspiration to his team and others he worked with. The Jim we remember was always courteous, kind, and generous. He had a beautiful smile, a sense of humor, and a gentle demeanor.
Jim was a genuinely wonderful individual—one we will miss greatly. As an attorney, Jim worked with passion, integrity, and honor. By his death, all the people who knew him will miss a brilliant individual with a rare friendliness and charm of personality. Our sorrow is slightly lessened with the comforting thought that we had the privilege of knowing him.
Baa Maa Pii, Jim.

Jim was a well-known figure in Michigan Indian country. I first became aware of him when he worked on the federal recognition for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. He testified before Congress in 1993 and 1994 in support:

Herald-Palladium, Sept. 1, 1993
1993 House testimony
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Maryland Federal Court Partially Dismisses, Abstains from Resolving Case Involving Accohannock Indian Tribe

Here are the materials in Accohannock Indian Tribe v. Tyler (D. Md.):

Jamul Action Committee v. Simermeyer Cert Petition


Jamul Pet2

Questions presented:

1. Whether, in 1994, Congress eliminated the distinction between “historic tribes” and “created tribes” and, thereby, eliminated the requirement that a tribe must have pre-existed the United States to have tribal immunity
2. Whether the JIV, which became a quarter-blood Indian group in 1996, is a federally recognized tribe, with tribal immunity, by virtue of the fact that it is still on the list of “Indian tribal entities” eligible to receive BIA services.

Lower court materials here.

D.C. Circuit Affirms Stand Up for California! v. Dept. of Interior [Wilton Rancheria]

Here is the opinion.

An excerpt:

This appeal comes after a seven year effort by the Department of the Interior (“Department”) to acquire land in trust on behalf of the Wilton Rancheria (“Wilton” or “Tribe”) to build a casino. After the Department finalized the acquisition of a parcel of land in Elk Grove, California, Stand Up for California! (“Stand Up”), Patty Johnson, Joe Teixeira, and Lynn Wheat (collectively “Appellants”) sued the Department. They brought a litany of claims, including claims that the Department (1) impermissibly delegated the authority to make a final agency action to acquire the land to an official who could not wield this authority, (2) was barred from acquiring land in trust on behalf of Wilton’s members, and (3) failed to adhere to its National Environmental Protection Act obligations when it selected the Elk Grove location. Appellants and the Department cross moved for summary judgment, and the District Court granted the Department’s motions on all counts. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the District Court.

Briefs here.

Chinook Recognition Suit Remanded to Agency

Here are the materials in Chinook Indian Nation v. Bernhardt (W.D. Wash.), formerly Chinook Indian Nation v. Zinke:

113 DCT Order on Motions for Summary Judgmet

114 Motion for Reconsideration

116 Response

117 Reply

118 DCT Order Granting Motion for Reconsideration

128 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

129 Response

132 Reply

133 DCT Order

Prior post here.

Administrative Law Review Podcast on the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Federal Recognition Struggle


On today’s episode of A Hard Look, a Junior Staffer on ALR, Olivia Miller, joins host, Sarah Knarzer, and Professor Matthew Fletcher to discuss the tribal recognition process and the barriers it poses to tribes across the United States, and in particular the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. Earlier this year, and in the middle of a surging coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced its intention to revoke the Mashpee Wampanoag’s land from its federal trust. This action is only a continuation of the Mashpee Wampanoag’s four hundred year struggle for tribal survival, dating back to the origins of the Thanksgiving myth.

Olivia and Professor Fletcher discuss Olivia’s comment, which she wrote as part of ALR’s comment writing process, to identify why the tribal recognition process is such a difficult, expensive, and frustrating administrative process for tribes who want and need to be federally recognized.

Ninth Circuit Rejects Challenge to Jamul Indian Village Gaming Ops

Here is the opinion in Jamul Action Committee v. Simermeyer.

Briefs here.