Sixth Circuit Affirms Tribal Court Decision in Spurr v. Pope


But our review involves no probing of the facts, just a pure question of law: Does a tribal court have jurisdiction under federal law to issue a civil personal protection order against a non-Indian and non-tribal member in matters arising in the Indian country of the Indian tribe? Because 18 U.S.C. § 2265(e) unambiguously grants tribal courts that power, and because tribal sovereign immunity requires us to dismiss this suit against two of the named defendants, we AFFIRM the district court’s dismissal of Spurr’s complaint.

Answer Brief
Appellant Brief

Lower court materials here.

Tribal supreme court decision here.


Cert Petition

Brief in Opposition

Friday Job Announcements

Job vacancies are posted on Friday. Some announcements might still appear throughout the week. If you would like your Indian law job posted on Turtle Talk, please email

Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potowatomi

Legal Intern, Fulton, MI. Work up to 10 hours per week during the school year. Open to first and second year law students.

Water Protector Legal Collective

Summer Intern, Mandan, N.D. The Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) is seeking (1L/2L) law students for a summer internship to work on the ground supporting water protectors, movement justice, and the Pro Hac attorney program.

Pueblo of Isleta

Tribal Prosecutor, Isleta, N.M. The position presents criminal complaints and prosecutes individuals accused of violating civil and/or criminal laws. Serves as presenting officer in Person-at-risk cases. Application.

National Congress of American Indians

Project Attorney, Washington, D.C. Responsible for day to day management of NCAI’s VAWA implementation technical assistance project.

Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

Assistant General Counsel, Fountain Hills, AZ. Closes May 1, 2017.

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe

Senior Associate General Counsel, Mt. Pleasant, MI.

Associate General Counsel, Mt. Pleasant, MI.

NHBP Media Release: Violence Against Women Act’s Jurisdictional Provisions

Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Asserts Authority to Prosecute All Persons, including Non-Indians, for Domestic Violence

Local Tribe to Implement Violence Against Women Act Jurisdictional Provisions

Pine Creek Indian Reservation, Athens, MI – Today, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi announces implementation of a new tribal government law that enables tribal police and justice officials to investigate and prosecute certain domestic violence crimes committed by non-Indians in Indian country. Non-Indians who live or work on the reservation or have a marriage or dating relationship with a Native person may now be subject to tribal jurisdiction for domestic and dating violence crimes and criminal violations of certain protection orders. Individuals who commit these crimes in Indian country can be arrested by tribal police, prosecuted in tribal court, and sentenced to prison. Individuals prosecuted under the new tribal law will have a right to an attorney. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided by the tribe.

This is part of the Tribal Council’s larger effort to take a stand against violence in the community—and domestic violence, in particular—because of the huge toll it has taken on Native families and youth.

“Domestic violence is a uniquely local crime that has long deserved a local solution, and now we have one,” said Tribal Council Chair Homer A. Mandoka. “We will no longer stand by and watch our Native women be victimized with no recourse. I’m here to put the community on notice, perpetrators will be held accountable.”

The federal law that authorizes these recent actions by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi is the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013).  Signed into law on March 7, 2013, VAWA 2013 marked a victory for Native women, tribal leaders, women’s rights advocates, and survivors of domestic abuse everywhere. For the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court stripped tribal governments of their criminal authority over non-Indians in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe (1978), VAWA 2013 restored tribal inherent authority to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence non-Indians who assault their Indian spouses or dating partners in Indian country. This aims to fill a longstanding jurisdictional gap on tribal lands that has for far too long put Native women at risk and kept the hands of tribal law enforcement tied.

Crimes committed outside of Indian country, between two strangers, between two non-Indians, or by a person without sufficient ties to the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi are not covered by this new authority.

This new law is necessary because violence against Native women has reached epidemic proportions*, and the old system of forcing tribes to rely exclusively on far away federal—and in some cases, state—government officials to investigate and prosecute crimes of domestic violence committed by non-Indians against Native women is not working.  Prior to VAWA 2013, the Indian woman who was beaten by her non-Indian husband on tribal land had nowhere to turn for protection: tribal law enforcement had no authority to intervene because the perpetrator is a non-Indian; the State had no authority to intervene because the victim was an Indian; and the Federal Government—the body with exclusive jurisdiction—had neither the will nor the resources to intervene in misdemeanor level domestic violence cases. VAWA 2013 is an attempt to remedy this broken system.

As President Obama said when he signed VAWA 2013 into law, “Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people, and all women deserve the right to live free from fear.”  The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi agrees, and it’s doing its part to ensure the safety of native women and of everyone on the reservation.

About the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi is a federally recognized Tribal government with nearly 1,100 enrolled Tribal members. The Potawatomi name is a derivation of Bodéwadmi, meaning a people of the fire or a people who make or maintain fire, both of which refer to the role of the Potawatomi as the keepers of the Council fire in an earlier alliance with other Tribes in the area. The Tribe’s main offices are located at the Pine Creek Indian Reservation in Athens Township, with additional offices in Grand Rapids, MI, to better serve our Tribal members.  The government employs more than 150 employees who work for various departments among the Tribe including Tribal Police, Tribal Court, Housing, Environment, Membership Services, Communications, Human Resources, Finance, Public Works, Planning, Health & Human Services, and the Gaming Commission.

* Compared with other demographic groups, American Indian women have one of the highest rates of domestic violence victimization in the United States. See. e.g.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Preliminary Report at 3, 39 (Nov. 2011) (finding that 46% of Native American women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.)  A significant percentage of residents of Indian reservations are non-Indian.  See U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Briefs, The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010, at pages13- 14 and table 5 (Jan. 2012) (showing that 1.1 million American Indians and 3.5 million non-Indians reside in American Indian areas).  Many married Indian women have non- Indian husbands. See U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2010, special tabulation, Census 2010 PHC-T- 19, Hispanic Origin and Race of Coupled Households: 2010, Table 1, Hispanic Origin and Race of Wife and Husband in Married-Couple Households for the United States: 2010 (Apr. 25, 2012) (showing that more than 54% of Indian wives have non-Indian husbands).

Nottawaseppi Huron Band Seeks Board Member for Waséyabek Development Company


The Tribal Council is soliciting letters of interest and statements of qualifications from NHBP Tribal Members and other qualified persons interested in being appointed to fill a vacant position on the Board of Directors of Waséyabek Development Company.

Waséyabek Development Company was created in May 2011 as a limited liability company, wholly-owned by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band, which is organized under the NHBP Limited Liability Code.  Waséyabek Development Company will serve as the vehicle through which business diversification strategies by the Tribal government will be planned and managed.

There are two (2) positions on the Board with approximate four  (4) year terms of office commencing July 1, 2016 and ending June 30, 2020.



As stated in its Articles of Organization and Operating Agreement, the mission and purpose of Waséyabek Development Company is to:

  • Create and stimulate the economy of the Band;
  • Generate profits to promote the growth and continuity of Waséyabek Development Company by investing in profitable companies, acquiring profitable companies and, when appropriate, developing new “start-up” companies for the purpose of:
    • Providing distributions of profits to the Tribal Government to fund essential government services and programs; and
    • Creating employment opportunities for Tribal members.

The day-to-day business activities of Waséyabek Development Company will be managed by a Chief Executive Officer hired by Waséyabek and by the individual business managers hired for specific businesses authorized.  During FY 2016, the Board of Directors will be continuing work to develop key strategic and organizational documents for the Company, including business development and investment criteria, financial management and reporting structures/procedures, compensation plans and personnel policies for enterprise employees, and other organizational documents.

The Board will oversee the hiring of a Chief Executive Officer and other business/financial consultants to be retained by Waséyabek to develop overall business plans, investment criteria and strategies for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band to further the mission and purposes of the Company.  Funding for the activities of Waséyabek Development Company will come from appropriations approved by the Tribal Council, the amount of which will be guided by Revenue Allocation Plan.

The Waséyabek Board of Directors will be responsible for maintaining regular reporting and accountability to both the Tribal Council and the Membership at large through the development of appropriate financial reporting and other communication procedures.


In accordance with the Operating Agreement for Waséyabek Development Company, at least one of the vacant Board position must be filled by a person who is an    enrolled member of NHBP or other person entitled to preference (spouses/parents of NHBP Members or other Native Americans) under the NHBP Indian Preference in Employment Code.  It is the Tribal Council’s desire to fill this position with a qualified person who is an enrolled member of NHBP.

All persons appointed to Board must possess the following qualifications  (as verified by an extensive background investigation and interview) to be considered for appointment.

  • Must be at least twenty-five (25) years of age; and
  • Possess a high school diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma; and
  • Have either:
    • A minimum of ten (10) years successful work experience in management, business administration, public administration or law; or
    • A minimum of five (5) years work experience in management, business administration, public administration or law and a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or business administration,

provided, however, that not less than one (1) Board members shall be a financial professional (i.e. Certified Public Accountant, Financial Analyst or Management Accountant) or experience as business operations (i.e. CEO, COO, General Manager); and

  • Have demonstrated working knowledge of Tribal economic development strategies, including knowledge of Tribal sovereignty as it relates business development strategies; and
  • Have demonstrated history of personal and professional integrity, financial responsibility, and honesty and adherence to high ethical standards; and
  • Have the ability and willingness to provide detailed personal financial information to the Small Business Administration (for 8(a) Certification) and other agencies necessary to obtaining various business certifications; and
  • Have a willingness to commit to understand the Company, its Annual Strategic and Operating Plans, investment goals and strategies;
  • The ability to attend Board meetings and meetings of the Tribal Council and General Membership meetings on the Pine Creek Indian Reservation when needed; and
  • Have the ability and willingness to provide detailed personal and financial information and submit to extensive background investigation and interview; and
  • Must not, within the preceding ten (10) years, have been convicted of, or pled guilty or no contest to, any crime involving theft or fraud, any crime involving violence against persons, including sex offenses, or any felony or other crime punishable by a prison term of one (1) year or longer.

Persons who are proven subject matter experts in business who have understanding and demonstrated high-level (management) understanding and experience managing business operations and/or the financial or marketing initiatives associated with growing businesses are preferred.  Persons with such experience in technology (including hospitality support), energy, manufacturing and/or construction industries are especially encouraged to apply.


Term: The individuals appointed with serve a four (4) year term of office (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2020).

Compensation:  Members of the Board of Directors will receive a monthly stipend of $2,000 for attendance at meetings and participation in conference calls/planning activities to be undertaken by the Board.  Board Members will also be eligible for reimbursement of travel and other expenses incurred in furtherance of Company activities in accordance with a Budget to be developed for Waséyabek Development Company.


       FULTON, MI 49052

Informational Meeting on Casino Ballot Initiative to be Held at Firekeepers Casino

From MLive:

BATTLE CREEK, MI – The owners of FireKeepers Casino plan to hold an informational meeting for area community leaders about a statewide ballot proposal that would amend the state constitution to allow eight new privately owned casinos to be built in Michigan.

In a press release, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Pottawatomi [sic] said the meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday in the Bingo Room of FireKeepers Casino.