The Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship


Gaye L. TenosoThe Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship

The Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship, part of the Attorney General's Honors Program, is designed to create a new pipeline of legal talent with expertise and deep experience in federal Indian law, tribal law, and Indian Country issues that can be deployed in creative ways to build tribal capacity, combat violent crime, and bolster public safety in Indian Country jurisdictions.

The Fellowship is named in honor of Department of Justice attorney, the late Gaye L. Tenoso. Gaye’s distinguished service to the Department and the people it serves spanned 30 years. For the last six years of her life Gaye served as the Deputy Director the Office of Tribal Justice. Gaye’s expertise in Federal Indian law and knowledge of Tribes enabled her to be an exceptionally effective advisor on litigation and policy matters. She worked tirelessly to ensure that specific protections for American Indian women were included in the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013. Gaye also mentored many legal interns during her time at the Office of Tribal Justice, and was an inspiration and guide who left a deep impression on many young attorneys.

Prior to serving with the Office of Tribal Justice, Gaye worked for over 25 years in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in the Educational Opportunities Section and the Voting Section. While in the Voting Section, she received the high honor of being invited by the United States Solicitor General to sit at counsel table during the Supreme Court argument in Reno v. Bossier Parish School District. In addition, Gaye led the Civil Rights Division’s Election Monitoring Program to ensure the right to vote for all Americans. Gaye’s passion was to ensure American Indians were provided the same access to voting as others. She was instrumental in bringing cases against counties in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah to provide language assistance at the polls for American Indians, where she helped spearhead unprecedented remedies to provide voting opportunities for all.

Fellowship Details

Each Indian Country Fellowship position offers a 36-month appointment that may be extended or converted to a permanent position. Fellows will generally be assigned to a U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) with significant Indian Country work, but may have the opportunity to be assigned to a Main Justice Component with significant equities in Indian Country matters and law. Fellowship appointments may, at the hiring component’s discretion, be extended or converted to permanent positions without further competition. This year, the Indian Country Fellowship will place one Fellow in a U.S. Attorney's Office.  Candidates will interview with a joint panel of attorneys from the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) and USAOs.

Candidates who receive an offer of employment will be able to select their assignment preferences from the list of participating Districts. Actual placement will be mutually agreed upon by the Fellow and the District. In addition to the joint EOUSA/USAO selections, individual USAOs may offer additional Indian Country Fellowship positions at their discretion, with hiring conducted according to their regular procedures.

As part of your work with a USAO, Indian Country Fellows will be required to serve 12 months with an appropriate tribal legal entity, typically in a tribal prosecutor’s office. The assignment or detail may consist of a one-year detail to a single tribal legal or governmental entity or two six-month details to different tribal legal or governmental entities.

The Indian Country Fellowship is open to all eligible Honors Program applicants, including current law students graduating in the coming academic year.  The 2015-2016 Honors Program application opens on July 31, 2015 and closes on September 8, 2015.  There are a few requirements associated with bar admission that applicants should consider:

  • Fellows who accept an offer from a USAO located in a jurisdiction that requires State bar admission must become admitted to that bar within 12 months of entry on duty.
  • Whether or not the USAO is located in a jurisdiction that requires admission to that State’s bar, all Indian Country Fellows hired by USAOs must be admitted to a bar (any U.S. jurisdiction) within 12 months of appointment.
  • Incoming Fellows who are not admitted to a bar (or who have not recently taken a bar with results pending) are expected to take the first available bar examination for which they are eligible (e.g., a May 2016 law school graduate should take the July 2016 bar exam).
  • Fellows must meet specific tribal court or bar admission requirements, if relevant to their assigned District.


 First Justice Department Indian Country Legal Fellow To Serve In the District of Arizona

Charisse Arce and AG Eric HolderOn December 4, 2014, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., announced that Charisse Arce, of Bristol Bay, Alaska, had been selected as the first-ever Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Legal Fellow, part of the Attorney General’s Honors Program.  Ms. Arce is currently a fellow at Bristol Bay Native Corporation, one of thirteen Alaska Native Regional Corporations created under federal law.  Ms. Arce received her law degree from Seattle University School of Law, where she was a member of the editorial staff for and published an article in the American Indian Law Journal.

“We are excited to welcome Charisse Arce to the District of Arizona as the first Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship recipient,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona John S. Leonardo.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to making this inaugural fellowship a success for all involved and a model for future fellowships in Arizona and in districts around the country.  Ms. Arce has demonstrated a strong commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and we look forward to having her in our Tucson office and working closely with the Pasqua Yaqui Tribe.”  “The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the District of Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Honors Program, through the Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship,” said Pascua Yaqui Tribal Chairman Peter Yucupicio. “We welcome the new Department of Justice fellow and look forward to a productive partnership as we fight violent crime, work to keep our community safe, and continue to implement the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction  (SDVCJ).”



Placement Opportunities for the 2015-2016 Indian Country Fellowship

District of Arizona | District of Colorado | District of Minnesota | District of Montana | District of Nebraska | Eastern District of Oklahoma | District of Oregon | District of South Dakota

District of Arizona

Bar Admission Requirements: State Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required.  The Fellow must become admitted to practice in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) courts, which involves completing an “Application for Admission,” providing documentation of good standing in a State or jurisdiction where the applicant is licensed to practice, and passing a background check.

There are 22 federally recognized Indian tribes within the District of Arizona, including much of the Navajo Nation (the largest Indian reservation in the country).  The U.S. Attorney’s Office has jurisdiction to charge major crimes occurring in Indian Country.  The District works closely with the tribes to promote public safety with the Indian Country communities and accounts for nearly one-third of the Indian Country matters handled by USAOs nationwide.  Our goal is to establish a holistic approach to Indian Country criminal justice, incorporating traditional beliefs and values into a system that seeks to hold offenders accountable for their actions, while working to ultimately reintegrate those offenders as productive and accepted members of their communities.  An Indian Country Fellow would learn and experience the federal and tribal justice systems as they relate to offenders, victims, and witnesses and, through these experiences, learn the most valuable and worthwhile aspects of both systems and suggest ways to bridge differences between them.

The District is working with the tribes in its jurisdiction to develop reentry programs.  The Fellow would have the opportunity to work with the SRPMIC Prosecutor’s Office in all areas of prosecution, including working on cases that are handled by that office and the District.  The SRPMIC is located in the metropolitan Phoenix area and borders the cities of Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, and Fountain Hills.  The tribe has over 10,000 enrolled members, the majority of whom live on the reservation.  However, there are a substantial number of Indians who live on the reservation who are not SRPMIC members.

The SPRMIC has exercised expanded jurisdiction under the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) since March 2013.  The SRPMIC Prosecutor’s Office has ten full-time prosecutors.  In 2014, the Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted 900 criminal cases, including felonies, misdemeanors, and criminal traffic offenses.  The tribe also has a family advocacy center where tribal prosecutors work directly with forensic interviewers and medical practitioners.  The USAO works closely with its counterparts in the SRPMIC Prosecutor’s Office, which has four Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys who participate in all aspects of federal prosecution, from grand jury presentation to trial.  The USAO and SAUSAs regularly work jointly to prosecute major offenders.  The Salt River Police Department (SRPD), the primary law enforcement agency for the SRPMIC, submits cases to tribal, federal, and state prosecuting agencies, which fosters a close working relationship between the USAO, SRPMIC Prosecutor’s Office, and the SRPD: active interagency communication provides almost daily training opportunities.

District of Colorado

Bar Admission Requirements:  An Indian Country (IC) Fellow must graduate from an accredited law school, be admitted to a bar (any State or the District of Columbia), and be licensed to practice in a state to join the U.S. District Court Bar in Colorado.

The Durango Branch Office handles all the Indian Country Crimes in the District of Colorado and is in close proximity to two Colorado Tribes (Southern Ute and the Ute Mountain Ute) located near the “Four Corners” area of southwest Colorado.  Both tribes reside on exclusive federal jurisdiction reservations covering large geographic areas, which border neighboring Districts as well as neighboring tribes in those Districts, enlarging the transient Native population on each Reservation. The Durango Branch has its own Grand Jury and an active Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) program in place with the Southern Ute Tribe.  The case load is moderately heavy.  Typical IC criminal prosecutions include homicides, sexual assaults, other assaults, drug offenses, alcohol-related offenses, domestic abuse, and an increasing number of methamphetamine and gang-related crimes.  The case load is also notable for the intensity of its concomitant, high-impact victim work.  Recently, the U.S. District Court established the "Durango Pilot Program" which assigned an Article III District Court Judge to the Court in Durango. This procedural change alleviates myriad issues related to AUSAs, law enforcement, witnesses, victims, and others who previously had to travel to Denver (350 miles away) for grand jury, hearings, trials, etc. A Fellow based in southwest Colorado would be able to observe and practice before not only a sitting U.S. Magistrate Judge, but also an Article III District Judge who would locally conduct trials and sentencing hearings in involving violent crime and other felony cases.  

An Indian Country Fellow would be invaluable in our work with the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation, which historically has difficulty maintaining a prosecutor stationed in their Court of Indian Offenses established under Title 25, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 11.  Due to the lack of continuity, the USAO has been unable to establish a SAUSA program.  Thus, with any case of significance, it is difficult for the District to maintain the necessary and vital lines of communication with the tribal prosecutor, tribal court, tribal probation, and other agencies.  Records indicate that many tribal crimes are dismissed and the USAO is not informed because of the  lack of effective liaison between the Tribe and AUSAs in cases that are of mutual interest.  We anticipate the Fellow would fill help fill that gap, providing an immeasurable benefit.

Additionally, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is currently working with DOJ partners, the U.S. District Court,  the Office of the Federal Public Defender,  the American Probation and Parole Association("APPA"), and numerous other federal, state and local agencies to establish a reentry program onthe Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. With a horrific recidivism rate of over 70% and having been referred to as "The Murder Capitol of Colorado," a Fellow who could assist the Ute Mountain Tribe during and after the development and implementation of such a program would enhance the potential for success.

There are now 3 AUSAs in the Durango Office (two dedicated to Indian Country, and the third’s workload consisting of about 70% Indian Country cases.  The current Branch Chief departs for an overseas detail beginning in late June.2015, leaving his position vacant for an estimated 14 months, so the Fellow would fill a vital need.  The Fellow would also work with the Southern Ute Reservation, which has a stable tribal prosecutor who is also a SAUSA.  The incorporation of a Fellow would enhance an already great relationship between the Southern Utes and the USAO.  A Fellow working with both Tribes could also provide additional coordination for cases that might involve suspects, targets, witnesses or victims who often travel between or reside on both reservations.

District of Minnesota

Bar Admission Requirements:  Admission to Minnesota bar preferred but not required.  State Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required. 

The District of Minnesota is home to 11 federally-recognized tribal nations.  The USAO has exclusive federal criminal jurisdiction on the Red Lake and Bois Forte Indian reservations, and concurrent federal criminal jurisdiction on the White Earth Indian Reservation.  The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe submitted a request for concurrent federal criminal jurisdiction in February 2013, with a decision pending.   For many years, the USAO has maintained a robust Indian Country (IC) practice with the Red Lake and Bois Forte.  After the Tribal Law and Order Act passed in 2010, and with assumption of concurrent federal criminal jurisdiction, the USAO has faced a need for greater communication with not only the Red Lake and Bois Forte, but also White Earth and the remaining tribal nations located in the District. 

The USAO is committed to more meaningful communication and collaboration with all 11 tribal nations located within the District.  With this renewed commitment and extended jurisdiction, the USAO increasingly resolves time, distance and resource issues through in-person communications with the Tribal Nations. Additionally, the USAO is addressing challenges associated with coordinating increased Indian Country caseloads.  The Red Lake, White Earth, and Bois Forte reservations are over 220 miles from the USAO – and the distance has, at times, been a barrier to effective and efficient communication, especially when significant matters arise on all three Reservations simultaneously.  An Indian Country Fellow in the District of Minnesota would be an invaluable resource and cement the strong existing working relationships by direct placement within Indian Country for at least 12 months.  Through tribal details, the Fellow will assist in providing a greater understanding to all parties about tribal court and federal court practices, and in establishing a consistent framework for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes occurring in Indian Country as criminal jurisdiction within the District changes.  The USAO is committed to finding its Fellow suitable placement for at least one if not two tribal details consisting of at least 12 months.  

The District does not currently have a Tribal SAUSA program with the Red Lake, Bois Forte or White Earth reservations.  An Indian country Fellow would be instrumental in increasing the capacity to handle Indian Country cases and solidifying an established framework to coordinate investigations and prosecutions in tribal, federal, or state court without distance being a barrier to in-person communications. 

District of Montana

Bar Admission Requirements:  Fellow must be an active member in good standing of another federal Bar or of the Bar of the highest court of a State, territory, or insular possession of the United States.  Fort Peck Tribal Court requires attorneys to take aTribal Bar Examination administered by the Tribal Court Administrators Office.  Attorneys can file a petition to practice on a single case without taking the bar with the Chief Judge, but the Fellow will likely be required to take the bar examination so he or she can continue to practice in the Tribal Court. There is an annual fee to maintain tribal bar registration.  Fort Belknap Tribal Court allows lawyers to practice if they are licensed in any State, complete a fitness questionnaire, are approved by the Chief Judge, and pay a nominal fee.

Montana is a vast state with seven Indian Reservations.  The Flathead is the only PL 280 reservation; the other six reservations are under federal jurisdiction.  They are:  the Blackfeet Reservation, the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Fort Belknap Reservation, the Fort Peck Reservation, the Crow Reservation, and the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. 

All credible cases alleging crimes set forth in the Major Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 1153), and the Indian Country Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 1152) are prosecuted by the USAO.  Specifically, we prosecute murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping, robbery, arson, burglary, and assault cases, and we prioritize cases involving physical and sexual assaults on women and children.   In Montana, our commitment to Indian Country is evident by a review of our case and trial numbers.  In 2014, 40% of the cases were from Indian Country.  So far, in 2015, 37% of the cases prosecuted by the USAO are from Indian Country.

Annually, Indian Country AUSAs average between 20 and 30 indicted cases; they also handle their own appeals.  Additionally, Indian Country AUSAs have significant liaison responsibilities that require extensive travel.  Federal crimes from the Blackfeet, Rocky Boy’s, Fort Belknap and Fort Peck reservations are prosecuted at Great Falls.  Federal crimes from the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations are prosecuted at Billings.  Distances from these reservations are a challenge as round trips range from a minimum of 120 miles (Crow to Billings) to a maximum of 650 miles (Fort Peck to Great Falls.)  Bad weather, bad roads, as well as the distances involved create significant time and travel issues for AUSAs. 

Currently, the Indian Country unit is comprised of two AUSAs in Billings, including a Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney who is responsible for supervising the unit and prosecuting cases arising from the Crow Reservation; three AUSAs in Great Falls; and two AUSAs in Helena, including the district Tribal Liaison.  The USAO has a heavy caseload that would provide our Fellow a great opportunity for trial and liaison work.  We anticipate offering our Fellow detail opportunities at the Fort Belknap and For Peck tribal courts.  Crimes stemming from the use and abuse of alcohol are common, and the abuse and trafficking of methamphetamine and prescription drugs is at epidemic proportions.  The Fort Belknap tribal court handles approximately 1500 cases annually.  The tribal prosecutor is a SAUSA who handles domestic abuse cases in federal court.  Fort Peck tribal court handles approximately 3000 cases annually.  Fort Peck is a Violence Against Women Act Pilot Project reservation with licensed attorneys prosecuting for the tribe. 

District of Nebraska

Bar Admission Requirements:  State Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required.  A resolution from the tribal council granting authorization to prosecute cases in the tribal court is required. 

The District of Nebraska is responsible for three reservations – Omaha Nation, Santee Sioux, and Winnebago.  The bulk of the USAO’s Indian Country (IC) cases are violent crime cases, which, by the nature, require the immediate time and attention of an assigned Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) or Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA).  Violent crime cases include sexual assaults, assaults resulting in serious bodily injury, and assaults with a dangerous weapon; however, there are also manslaughter cases, assaults on federal police officers, and burglaries.  Non-violent cases are primarily embezzlement cases.  Currently assigned to handle the bulk of the IC caseload are one AUSA (who also functions as the Tribal Liaison and Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Unit) and a Tribal SAUSA, who is detailed to prosecute crimes against women and children in both tribal and federal court on each of the three reservations under a three year grant funded by the Office of Violence Against Women.  The drug unit assigns AUSA to handle drug related or firearm cases in Indian Country on a case-by-case basis.  Our original Tribal SAUSA is no longer with the District.  Our new Tribal SAUSA has been The presence of the Tribal SAUSA on the reservations has built a comfort level among the tribes, tribal law enforcement, tribal prosecutors, and the community that has encouraged the reporting and the prosecution of domestic violence cases. 

The goals and structure of the Indian Country Fellowship are ideally suited to maintaining these relationships and are necessary in order to assist tribes with improving their courts to meet the requirements to exercise felony jurisdiction under the Tribal Law and Order Act.  Additionally, methamphetamine and other drug trafficking and abuse are largely an unaddressed problem on the three reservations.  The Fellow may be tasked to train and work with tribal police to improve investigations and conduct pre-trial preparation.  We anticipate the Fellow’s regular interaction with the community will help develop trust so that tribal members will be more willing to provide information and participate in the judicial process.  The Fellow will be assigned cases from all three reservations for purposes of federal prosecutions; however, he or she will be initially assigned solely to the Winnebago Tribal Court for prosecution of tribal cases, starting with child abuse and neglect cases.  As the Fellow gains experience, we will consider assigning the Fellow cases from the Santee Sioux and Omaha Reservations or, alternatively, develop a plan to rotate the Fellow among the reservations to gain a broader perspective on tribal court operations.

Eastern District of Oklahoma

Bar Admission Requirements:  Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required.

The Eastern District of Oklahoma is home to nine federally recognized tribes representing over a million tribal members:  Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (the largest tribe in the United States), Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Seminole Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, Alabama-Quasserte Tribal Town, and the Kialegee Tribal Town.  Each tribe operates casinos, which has resulted in a significant increase in economic and violent crimes on casino property and has led to more complex investigations/prosecutions of tribal officials involved in corruption. 

Current and recent cases involve murder, kidnapping, child abuse, distribution of illegal narcotics, armed robbery, serious assaults, arson, firearm violations, and white collar crimes ranging from simple employee embezzlements to complex conspiracies and frauds involving millions of dollars.  The Office’s sole Indian Country (IC) AUSA/Tribal Liaison is currently assigned to 45 cases.  Recent Indian Country cases include a triple homicide; a corruption and bribery investigation of the Executive Director of Chocktaw Nation (associated with the construction of $385million in casinos); multiple domestic violence cases/assaults, and numerous economic cases involving corruption, theft, and embezzlement, often involing casino employees.  Methamphetamine offenses and trafficking continue to be a significant problem. 

We anticipate that an Indian Country Fellow would be primarily assigned to the Criminal Division, although the Civil Division is also actively involved in IC and would offer opportunities for the Fellow.  Civil Division cases include medical malpractice defense for 23 Indian Health Care facilities under the Federal Tort Claims Act.  Our district defends 10 to 15 major malpractice cases annually that subject the United States to millions of dollars in liability.  In addition to an active caseload, the Fellow will participate in regular outreach within the tribes.  The District has strong existing working relationships with five of the largest tribes in the country (Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, uscogee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Seminole Nation) and can offer the Fellow detail opportunities with multiple Native American legal organizations for trial and liaison work.

District of Oregon

Bar Admission Requirements:  State Bar admission (any State or the District of Columbia) is required.  The Fellow must become admitted to the bar of the Umatilla Tribal Court.  To be eligible, the Fellow must be a member in good standing of any tribal or State bar, petition for admission, and file an admission fee of $100.00. 

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon has a proud history of actively engaging in building relationships on a government-to-government level with the nine federally recognized tribal nations in the District of Oregon, as well as with intertribal organizations involved in law enforcement on Indian Country lands located within the district.  Routine and meaningful government-to-government consultations with tribes and tribal organizations serve as a critical focus of this district’s public safety efforts. The nine federally recognized tribal nations within the jurisdiction of the District of Oregon offer diverse cultures, distinct lifestyles and traditions.  These are the Burns Paiute Tribe; Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians; Coquille Indian Tribe Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians; The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; The Klamath Tribes; Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians; The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; and The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

The District of Oregon has a significant Indian Country criminal caseload. The caseload is incredibly diverse, with numerous violent crimes (homicide, domestic violence, gang assaults, and firearms offenses), drug trafficking organizations, and fraud/embezzlement cases. Most of these cases originate from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and Umatilla Indian Reservations. The District has the equivalent of one full-time AUSA to prosecute this caseload. The Indian Country AUSA is also responsible for conducting trainings for tribal enforcement, supervising the Central Violations Bureau docket and consulting with tribal officers to ensure compliance with DOJ policies, including federal marijuana enforcement. Indian Country cases require the AUSA to coordinate investigations with the FBI and tribal police, meet with victims and their families, and research jurisdictional issues.

The District also has one SAUSA who is the tribal prosecutor for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR). The CTUIR is one of 8 tribes that qualified to implement the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA), improving the justice system, granting tribal courts tougher sentencing powers for crimes, and expanding coordination between federal agencies and the tribal justice system. TLOA increased the potential sentences imposed in tribal court from one to three years, and authorized tribal courts to impose consecutive sentences for multiple crimes with a cap of 9 years. Consistent with the requirements of TLOA, the CTUIR provides licensed defense counsel, and requires the tribal judge to be licensed and law trained, and the tribal court to have a published code of criminal law and rules of evidence and criminal procedure. The SAUSA co-chairs with the Indian Country AUSA on federal criminal cases arising from the CTUIR.

The District of Oregon has a great need for the Indian Country Fellow and would propose to detail the Fellow to the CTUIR.  The United States District Court for the District of Oregon recently approved a Central Violations Bureau collateral schedule for Indian Country, which will enable officers to cite non-tribal members for specified misdemeanors on tribal lands.  SAUSA/CTUIR Tribal Counsel Kyle Daley will play a key role in implementing the CVB docket in Pendleton, Oregon.  The Fellow would work closely with the SAUSA, as well as Portland-based AUSAs in developing appropriate training in investigation and court appearances for the tribal officers issuing CVB citations.  The Fellow would also be involved in CVB training for other tribes, and for the law enforcement officers at Chemawa Indian School.  The Fellow would work with tribal officers in charging, negotiating and trying CVB misdemeanor cases in U.S. Magistrate Court on a bi-monthly basis.   In addition, the Fellow would assist SAUSA/CTUIR Tribal Counsel by handling a misdemeanor caseload in Tribal Court, and by serving as second chair at appropriate trials in Tribal Court.  In appropriate cases, the Fellow would also have an opportunity to serve as second chair in trials in District Court.

The Office of Tribal Prosecutor and the Office of Legal Counsel for the CTUIR serve as the tribal legal offices. The Office of Tribal Prosecutor has one full time prosecutor and one administrative assistant who handle a full caseload of felony and misdemeanor matters.  The current felony caseload includes several VAWA cases, felony sexual assault cases, felony domestic assault cases, felony theft, fail to register as a sex offender, child neglect, elder abuse, felony flight from law enforcement and felony drug cases.  The misdemeanor caseload includes assault cases, driving while suspended, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence of intoxicants and marijuana infractions.  The CTUIR caseload also includes location specific investigations of waste of wildlife, violation of tribal treaty fishing rights and Montana bison hunting violations. In 2014, the CTUIR caseload included 166 adult cases, six juvenile cases, and seven truancy matters.

 In addition, the Umatilla Tribe was one of the few tribes which applied for and was granted “Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction” established under the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA 2013).  The “Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction”, allows for the prosecution of non-Indians for certain domestic violence related crimes. Finally, the Umatilla Tribe was one of the few tribes that qualified to exert enhanced Tribal Court sentencing authority against violent tribal offenders under the Tribal Law and Order Act.  The Umatilla Tribe has exerted this enhanced sentencing authority and participated in a Bureau of Prisons Pilot Program to place those prosecuted into federal prison.  While other federal districts may have more Indian Country cases, the District of Oregon caseload is as intense and interesting as any jurisdiction in the country and will provide the recipient of the Indian Country Fellowship a challenging and rewarding experience.

District of South Dakota

Bar Admission Requirements:  Admission to South Dakota bar required within one year of assignment. 

Courts of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe:  Any attorney who is an active member in good standing of the South Dakota State Bar, or any attorney certified and eligible to practice before the highest court of any other state or the Supreme Court of the United States is eligible to be admitted to practice.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe:  To serve as a Tribal Court prosecutor or assistant prosecutor, the individual must be a member in good standing of the bar in any state or federal court; at least 21 years of age; of high moral character and integrity; have a law degree from an ABA accredited law school; must not have been convicted of a felony; shall not have been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces; and be physically able to perform the duties of the office. 

The District of South Dakota has primary jurisdiction for federal offenses on nine Indian reservations, one of which includes land in both North and South Dakota.  Historically, Indian Country (IC) cases comprise over half of the total cases prosecuted in the District, with recent increases in prosecutions on the Cheyenne River, Flandreau, and Yankton Sioux Reservations, as well as the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations.  Violent crimes and sexual abuse comprise the majority of Indian Country cases.  The remainder includes assault offenses, murder/manslaughter, drug, and firearms cases. 

The District is focused on making tribal communities safer.  We have entered into Special Assistant U.S. Attorney agreements with three of our nine reservations, to include the Rosebud, Standing Rock, ad Lower Brule Sioux Reservations and their chief prosecutors.  Each SAUSA works hand in hand with the AUSA assigned to each reservation to effectively manage the jurisdiction best suited to bring forward criminal charges.  The SAUSA and ASUA meet regularly to discuss cases, work on indictments and bring matters in federal court.  The SAUSA participates in grand jury and court proceedings, and in jury trials.  We anticipate the Fellow with join the Tribal SAUSAs and AUSAs assigned to these cases.   Likely detail opportunities exist with the Standing Rock and Lower Brule Sioux Tribes, both of which offer a wide variety of cases for the Indian Country Fellow to handle.  It is possible for the Fellow to work for a period of time with both tribes. 

The District does not believe that prosecutions alone will make tribal communities safer; the Fellow will also engage in community outreach with our tribal partners to build cooperative and productive relationships based on mutual trust and respect.  The Fellow will join AUSAs in providing training and information to local school officials, Indian Health Service personnel, community groups, and youth organizations.  The Fellow will also participate in meetings with law enforcement, domestic violence and abuse advocates, state and tribal social services providers, and medical personnel to address the best ways to protect the most vulnerable victims – children – to ensure the provision of all necessary services and address criminal matters.



Updated June 15, 2015