Indian Nations in the Western District of Michigan
The Western District of Michigan has the largest Native American population East of the Mississippi River. There are eleven federally recognized Tribes in the Western District of Michigan. The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) recognizes and respects the sovereign status of the federally recognized Tribes. We adhere to the principles of government-to-government relations when working with each sovereign nation.
Communication and services have been substantially improved through collaborating with tribal leadership on matters of mutual interest and concern. Our first priority is to aggressively prosecute violent crime committed in Indian Country.
Annual Government-to-Government Meetings in Indian Country
United States Attorney Charles R. Gross and members of his staff annually travel throughout the Upper and Lower Peninsulas with a delegation of representatives from various federal agencies to meet with Tribal leaders from each of the eleven federally recognized Tribes in western and northern Michigan. Participants include tribal chairs, tribal judges, prosecutors, advocates, police and social service directors, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the United States Probation Office. Historically, the purpose of the annual meetings was to promote dialogue and to improve the communication between the United States Attorney's Office and the Tribes on issues of mutual concern. Recently, the annual meetings have expanded to include training on issues of importance to the Tribes and the public safety of their members.
Additional training options include domestic violence protocol, Full Faith and Credit, the non-Indian Misdemeanor docket, report writing and search and seizure procedures for tribal police, counter terrorism issues, and Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is a gun violence reduction program. The Western District of Michigan hosted the 2003 Great Lakes Native American Conference in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The theme of the conference was “Biimadzijik,” which means “respect for all people.” The conference focused on family and domestic violence issues and emphasized that family violence is not a tribal tradition.
The Role of the United States Attorney’s Tribal Liaison
Assistant United States Attorney Jeff J. Davis is the liaison between the United States Attorney's Office and the eleven federally recognized Tribes in the Western District of Michigan. AUSA Davis who is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, works with the United States Attorney and her staff to ensure that the policies and procedures are effective, consistent, and in compliance with the overall directive to improve the government-to-government relationship with each sovereign nation.
Prosecuting Violent Crime in Indian Country
The task of Assistant United States Attorneys from the Western District of Michigan is to prosecute violent offenders-Indian and non-Indian - who commit assaults and sex crimes in Indian County. You can read about the outcome of recent cases by visiting News and Press Releases.
Multi-Disciplinary Teams in Child-Sexual Abuse Cases
The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan participated on the Governor's Task Force on Children's Justice, Tribal Protocol Subcommittee. Through this cooperative effort, the Task Force helped to create a model tribal-specific protocol for the investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse crimes in Indian Country. The Tribes are now implementing a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) approach to combat child sexual abuse in Indian Country. There are currently seven MDTs operating in the District. Generally, MDT members include a tribal prosecutor, law enforcement (FBI, BIA, tribal police), tribal social services personnel, and in some instances, private counselors, psychiatrists, and health care professionals. Our tribal liaison, violent crime in Indian Country prosecutor, or Indian Country victim advocate frequently attend these meetings. The MDT method provides for the timely and effective detection, investigation and prosecution of child sexual assault cases and proactively identifies the needs of the victims of child sexual abuse.
Addressing Non-Indian Misdemeanor Crime in Indian Country
The United States Attorney's Office established through the Central Violations Bureau (CVB) a non-Indian misdemeanor docket for Class B and C misdemeanor offenses. Tribal law enforcement is provided training on issuing CVB tickets to non-Indians who commit misdemeanor offenses against Native Americans in Indian Country.
The Federally Recognized Native American Tribes within the State of Michigan are as follows:
Bay Mills Indian Community
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
Hannahville-Potawatomi Indian Community
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians
of Potawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe)
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians