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Indigenous Law Conference 2020

Hosted by the Tribal In-House Counsel Association and the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University

November 10, 2020


1-2:30pm ET (1.5 CLE)
Panel 1: COVID-19 Related Litigation  


Several important lawsuits have emerged in relation to Tribal access to the financial resources needed during the pandemic, including availability of Federal dollars allocated to Tribal governments in Congress’s COVID relief legislation and the Tribal claims brought against insurers for COVID-related business interruption.


  • Catherine Munson, Partner, Kilpatrick Townsend

  • Judge Michael Burrage, Co-Founder, Whitten Burrage

  • Cory Albright, Member, Attorney Kanji & Katzen, P.L.L.C.


3-4:30pm ET (1.5 CLE)
Panel 2: Child Welfare and Social Services

COVID-19 has upended standard child welfare and social service practices. Guidance from the states and federal government are often conflicting. Tribal practitioners are doing the best they can to maintain their caseload remotely.

  • Whitney Gravelle, In-House Counsel and Attorney, Bay Mills Indian Community

  • Shayne Machen, State Manager of ICWA/MIFPA Compliance and Race Equity, Children’s Service Agency, MDHHS

  • Delia Sharpe, Founding Executive Director, California Tribal Families Coalition


4:45-5:45pm ET
Welcome Reception

Please join us for door prizes and a performance from the group Dream Warriors!

November 11, 2020 No panels in observance of Veterans Day

November 12, 2020


1-2:30pm ET (1.5 CLE)
Panel 3: Quarantine Issues and Their Enforcement

How are Tribes enforcing quarantine and isolation requirements? Even those governments with public health emergency laws and court procedures have exposed the need for pandemic response reinforcement.

  • Jennifer Henry, Acting Chief Prosecutor, Navajo Nation

  • Nikki Ducheneaux, Partner, Big Fire Law and Policy Group, LLP

  • Laura Berglan, Attorney General, Pascua Yaqui Tribe


3-4:30pm ET (1.5 CLE)
Panel 4: Oral Arguments Remotely, What Could Go Wrong?!

From in-person oral arguments to video and telephonic arguments, attorneys and courts have had to make massive adjustments in their practice. Panelists will provide an update from their last presentation.

  • Riyaz Kanji, Partner, Katzen & Kanji P.L.L.C.

  • Nikki Ducheneaux, Partner, Big Fire Law and Policy Group, LLP

  • Paul Spruhan, Assistant Attorney General, Litigation Unit, Navajo Department of Justice

November 13, 2020


1-2:30pm ET (1.5 Elimination of Bias CLE)
Panel 5: Voting Rights and The 2020 Election

The law governing voting rights, both statutory and constitutional, protect the rights of Native people to vote in state and federal elections.  Panelists will provide updates, both legal and practical on Native voting rights.


  • Katherine Belzowski, Navajo Nation Department of Justice

  • Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, ASU Law School & Sacks Tierney

  • Natalie Landreth, Native American Rights Fund


3-4:30pm ET (1.5 CLE)
Panel 6: The McGirt Decision


The Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, 591 U.S. __, 140 S. Ct. 2452 (2020), marks a tremendous affirmation of Muscogee Creek treaty rights as well as a shift in the Court’s approach to key legal texts affecting Tribal sovereignty, powers, and responsibilities. This panel offers perspectives from Muscogee Creek’s lead advocate before the Supreme Court, a scholar and professor of Federal Indian law, and the chief in-house counsel from another of one of the Five Tribes.


  • Riyaz Kanji, Partner, Katzen & Kanji P.L.L.C.

  • Dylan Hedden-Nicely, Director, Native American Law Program, University of Idaho College of Law

  • Sara Hill, Attorney General, Cherokee Nation

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