Mitchell’s highly-regarded Indian Law program has received a major grant from the federal government. A U.S. Department of Justice grant of more than $280,000 will allow the program to provide even more help for Minnesota and Wisconsin Indian tribes and more experience for law students.
The grant will provide funds for two different clinical programs. It will allow Mitchell students to assist Indian tribes in Minnesota and Wisconsin with the development of criminal codes and rules of criminal procedure.
“Thanks to this grant, tribal governments will benefit from new, cost-free enhancements to their judicial systems while students gain hands-on, practical experience,” said Professor Sarah Deer.
The grant will also fund travel and related expenses for Mitchell students and faculty to represent criminal defendants in Bois Forte and Menominee tribal courts.
“For the Menominee Nation, this will mean the creation of their first public defender service, and it will enable students to have real-world interaction with clients who may not otherwise have legal counsel,” said Professor Colette Routel.
The Indian Law Clinic was founded last spring, and is already making significant impact for Indian tribes in the region. Last summer, students worked on their first major trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, representing the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Sokaogon Chippewa Indian Community, and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. The case centered on tribes’ right to hunt white-tailed deer at night off-reservation. This semester, clinic students are assisting the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, which is preparing to assert criminal jurisdiction over its reservation.