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Indian Country Initiatives

Flags of the Twelve Sovereign Indian Nations in the State of Michigan and the Flag of the United States of America

The US Attorney's relationship with the eleven Federally recognized
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 district. The US Attorney’s Office (USAO) recognizes and respects the sovereign status of the federally recognized Tribes, and adheres to the principles of government-to-government relations when working with each sovereign nation. Collaborating with tribal leadership on matters of mutual interest and concern leads to better communication and service.

Annual Government-to-Government Meetings in Indian Country

          The US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, and members of his/her 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 often include tribal chairs, tribal judges, prosecutors, advocates, police and social service directors, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the US Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the US Probation Office. Historically, the purpose of the annual meetings was to promote dialogue and to improve the communication between the US 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.

Law Enforcement Training

        Training options specific to Indian Country 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 Trails, which is a drug trafficking reduction program specific to Indian Country, and special commission training for tribal, state and county law enforcement.

The Role of the US Attorney’s Tribal Liaison

        Assistant US Attorney Sean Lewis is the liaison between the USAO and the eleven federally recognized Tribes in the Western District of Michigan. AUSA Lewis works with the US Attorney and his/her staff to maintain an effective government-to-government relationship with each sovereign nation.

Prosecuting Violent Crime in Indian Country

        The USAO's top priority in Indian Country is to reduce violent crimes committed on Tribal land. The task of prosecuting violent offender Indian and non-Indian - who commit assaults and sex crimes in Indian Country falls to AUSAs in both the Grand Rapids, and Marquette offices. You can read about the outcome of recent cases by visiting News and Press Releases.

Multi-Disciplinary Teams in Child-Sexual Abuse Cases

       A number of years ago, the USAO, in a state sponsored 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 USAO 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.

A link to the map of the State of Michigan and the Indian tribes located within the boundaries of the Western District of Michigan

        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

Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band
of Potawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe)

Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (Eastern District of Michigan)

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Updated January 25, 2021

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