New Fletcher Paper: “The Rise and Fall of the Ogemakaan”

Please check out my new paper, “The Rise and Fall of the Ogemakaan,” now available on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Anishinaabe (Odawa, Bodewadmi, and Ojibwe) legal and political philosophy is buried under the infrastructure of modern self-determination law and policy. Modern Anishinaabe tribes are rough copies of American governments. The Anishinaabeg (people) usually choose their ogemaag (leaders) through an at-large election process that infects tribal politics with individualized self-interest. Those elected leaders, what I call ogemaakaan (artificial leaders) preside over modern governments that encourage hierarchy, political opportunism, and tyranny of the majority. While modern tribal governments are extraordinary successes compared to the era of total federal control, a significant number of tribes face intractable political disputes that can traced to the philosophical disconnect from culture and tradition.

Anishinaabe philosophy prioritizes ogemaag who are deferential and serve as leaders only for limited purposes and times. Ogemaag are true representatives who act only when and how instructed to do so by their constituents. Their decisions are rooted in cultural and traditional philosophies, including for example Mino-Bimaadiziwin (the act of living a good life), Inawendewin (relational accountability), Niizhwaaswii Mishomis/Nokomis Kinoomaagewinawaan (the Seven Gifts the Grandfathers or Grandmothers), and the Dodemaag (clans). I offer suggestions on how modern tribal government structures can be lightly modified to restore much of this philosophy.

“Waters of the United States” Comments by Michigan Tribal Interests

CORA, GTB, and Bay Mills comments on EPA’s proposal to change the definition of “Waters of the United States.”

Bay Mills-WOTUS Comments Regarding EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149

CORA Comments WOTUS 2019

GTB 4-12-19 letter +map

GTB and Sault Tribe Join Opiate Litigation

Here is the complaint in In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation (N.D. Ohio):

GTB & Sault Tribe Complaint

Here is a recent list of tribes that have joined the litigation:

List of Tribes

JoAnne Cook: “Water Is the Essence of Life”

Here, on the FLOW site.

An excerpt:

The Anishinaabek, who are the Indigenous people from the Great Lakes area, are born with an innate sense of our connection to everything around us. We feel the connection between us and all things in creation, whether it’s people, plants, or animals. We feel it in everything that is part of our Mother, the Earth. There is knowledge about creation and how it fits together and in balance. It isn’t easily expressed into words, as it is a way of thinking and being. We, the Anishinaabek, understand that living in balance with all things is what we seek. As caretakers of the Earth, we use what we need and strive to ensure it is there for the next seven generations. 

GTB Press Release: “Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Implements Authority to Prosecute All Persons, Including Non-Indians, for Domestic Violence”


Peshawbestown, MI – During a legislative session today, the Tribal Council of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB) enacted amendments to the Domestic Violence Ordinance authorizing tribal police and justice officials to investigate and prosecute domestic violence crimes committed by non-Indians on tribal lands. Non-Indians who live or work on the reservation or have a marriage or dating relationship with a Native person now may be prosecuted by GTB for domestic and dating violence crimes, and for criminal violations of certain protection orders. Individuals who commit these crimes in Indian country can be arrested by tribal police, prosecuted in the Tribal Court, and sentenced to incarceration. Crimes committed outside of Indian country, between two strangers, between two non-Indians, or by a person without sufficient ties to GTB are not covered by the law.

The law guarantees substantive and procedural protections to the accused, including the rights to a jury trial, to an attorney, and to stay proceedings in the Tribal Court to petition for a writ of habeas corpus in a court of the United States.

“The epidemic of violence against Native women has worsened as a result of tribal governments’ forced reliance on distant federal officials for justice. Domestic violence demands a local solution. At long last, we have one,” said Council Chair Sam McClellan. “Tribal law enforcement officers are no longer required to obtain federal permission to arrest a non-Indian who perpetrates domestic violence against an Indian. Bad actors who assault our women are on notice: They will be prosecuted and put in jail.”

For the first time since 1978, when the U.S. Supreme Court stripped tribal governments of their criminal authority over non-Indians in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) has authorized Indian tribes to reassert a portion of their inherent governmental authority to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence non-Indians who commit crimes in Indian country. The legislation begins the process of eliminating a jurisdictional gap on tribal lands that has for far too long endangered Native men, women, and children by tying the hands of tribal law enforcement.

Approximately twenty tribes around the United States have implemented the jurisdiction. By adding GTB to that list, the Grand Traverse Band Tribal Council demonstrates its commitment to confronting domestic violence, and to reversing the lasting damage it inflicts on Native families.