2022 North Dakota Law Review Indian Law Symposium
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Gorecki Alumni Center, Grand Forks, ND
8:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Please join the North Dakota Law Review in Grand Forks or via Zoom for the Indian Law Symposium and CLE featuring Indian law experts.
Approved for 7.0 North Dakota CLE credits. Minnesota Elimination of Bias CLE credits pending.
2022 North Dakota Law Review Indian Law Symposium Schedule
8:00 a.m: Breakfast
8:40 a.m: Welcome Remarks
Dean Michael McGinniss, UND School of Law
8:50 a.m: UND Land Acknowledgment
Keith Malaterre, University of North Dakota
9:00 a.m: The Newest Federal Implementation Initiative for Indian Country Environmental Management
James Grijalva, Lloyd and Ruth Friedman Professor of Law & Director, Tribal Environmental Law Project, UND School of Law
10:00 a.m: "It Is More Than Just a Calculation: Reframing Child Support In Indian Country"
Sharon Thompson, Attorney, Circling Eagle Law
11:00 a.m: "Reforming Criminal Procedure in Indian Country"
Grant Christensen, Assistant Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law
12:00 p.m: Lunch
1:00 p.m: Keynote Address: "Tribal Jurisdiction Under the Second Montana Exception: Implications of United States v. Cooley"
Timothy Q. Purdon, Partner, Robins Kaplan LLP and former U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota
2:00 p.m: "McGirt v. Oklahoma: The Shift to a More Conventional Approach to Statutory Interpretation Protecting Tribal Homelands"
Erin Shanley, Attorney, Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP
3:00 p.m: Criminal Law Panel
Moderator: Michelle Rivard Parks, Associate Director, Tribal Judicial Institute, UND School of Law
Breanna Delorme, Public Defender, Spirit Lake Nation
Cynthia Ford, Professor, University of Montana
Marjorie Kohls, Assistant Public Defender, Standing Rock Tribal Court
Joseph Vetsch, Chief Judge, Spirit Lake Nation
4:00 p.m: Creating Space for Indigenous People in Law
Erica Thunder, Commissioner, North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights
Professor Grijalva frequently speaks and writes on numerous issues related to Indian Country Environmental Law. Since 1996, he has worked with the governments and grassroots organizations of over 70 Indian tribes across the country as the Director of the Tribal Environmental Law Project, a component of the Northern Plains Indian Law Center, which he also directs. He has also served as a technical services contractor and legal trainer for multiple offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. He is a Special Alternate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
Sharon T. Thompson is an attorney with Circling Eagle Law out of Fargo, North Dakota. She has been practicing in Indian Law over the last five years serving as counsel for various Tribal Child Support Departments and as outside counsel to various Tribal Nations in addressing issues such as Debtor Creditor, construction and economic development, and drafting of Tribal Codes, policies, and procedures. Aside from assisting Tribal Nations, Ms. Thompson also represents clients in both State and Tribal Court regarding issues of family law, child welfare, and contract disputes. She has gain a wealth of experience in litigation and tribal governmental policies and development over the years.
Grant Christensen joined the Stetson University College of Law faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2021. Before moving to Stetson, Professor Christensen was an Associate Professor at the University of North Dakota School of Law and an Affiliated Associate Professor of American Indian Studies. He has also taught in summer 2019 and summer 2020 at the Pre-Law Summer Institute (PLSI), a summer program organized by the American Indian Law Center and held at the University of New Mexico designed to help Indigenous students prepare for law school. In addition to his academic work he has served as a judge on the supreme court of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the appellate court of the Fort Peck and Assiniboine Sioux Tribes. He holds his J.D. from Ohio State and his LL.M. in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy from the University of Arizona.
Former United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota Tim Purdon has made his career leading complex criminal investigations and high stakes civil litigation from both the plaintiff and defense counsel’s table. His path has uniquely positioned him to rewrite the odds for American Indian Tribes embroiled in complex historic disputes, businesses facing “bet-the-company” litigation in North Dakota, and for real people caught up in “once-in-a-lifetime” lawsuits with powerful interests.
Tim has a twenty-five year track record in private practice and in public service as a passionate champion for his clients and as an incisive strategic thinker. The essence of who Tim is as a lawyer was captured in 2011 by the editorial page of his hometown newspaper, the Bismarck Tribune. Reflecting on Tim’s relentless fight as U.S. Attorney for increased public safety in Indian Country, they wrote that Tim’s efforts “confirmed Purdon's passion and seriousness about trying to make a difference for those less fortunate, for the voices of so many that have been muted for years.” Tim’s commitment to Tribes continues, and his work for Tribes and Tribal members has been recognized by Chambers, Best Lawyers in America, and Indian Country Business Today.
Prior to joining Robins Kaplan LLP, Tim served as North Dakota’s U.S. Attorney from 2010-2015. In that role, he was the chief federal law enforcement official in North Dakota with responsibility for prosecuting all federal crimes in North Dakota and defending the United States in civil litigation. As U.S. Attorney, Tim placed special emphasis on the issues of increasing public safety on the American Indian reservations in North Dakota and on working with law enforcement partners to counter the new threat from organized crime that emerged as a result of the oil boom in western North Dakota’s Bakken region.
Tim was called on to assume leadership roles at the Department of Justice while he was U.S. Attorney. In 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder tapped Tim to be a member of the select Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC). The AGAC advises the Attorney General on criminal justice matters and serves as the voice of the United States Attorney community in setting Department of Justice policies. In 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Tim the Chair of the Attorney General’s Native American Issues subcommittee (NAIS). The NAIS is responsible for making policy recommendations to the Attorney General regarding public safety and legal issues that impact tribal communities. While Chair of NAIS, Tim represented the Department of Justice in testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. When Tim left the Justice Department, Attorney General Holder praised his tenure as U.S. Attorney for North Dakota stating that, “Tim Purdon has been an outstanding United States Attorney, a fierce advocate for the people of North Dakota and a strong national teeader whose efforts to improve public safety in Indian Country have made a profound difference – and touched countless lives.”
Erin Shanley is an attorney with Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP, working out of the Great Plains Office located in Fort Yates, North Dakota. She is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and descendant of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes. Erin received her law degree from the University of Montana School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University. She has extensive experience working on federal Indian law matters, and recently served as in-house counsel for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Most of her prior work has been focused on tribal criminal justice issues. Erin served as a judge for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and other tribal courts. She also worked as a judicial systems administrator for the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission. She served as a child welfare prosecutor for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and as a domestic violence prosecutor and special assistant U.S. attorney in North and South Dakota for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She also developed a public defender’s office for the Fort Peck Tribes. Erin is licensed to practice law in Montana, North Dakota, and numerous tribal courts.
Mr. Vetsch graduated with Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geology & Technology from UND in 1997; and received his JD w/ Distinction from UND School of Law in 2001. He served as the prosecuting Attorney for the Spirit Lake Tribe from 2004 to 2016 before being appointed to his current position as Chief Judge. Mr. Vetsch has maintained a private and court appointed criminal defense practice since 2003 and also serves as a special/conflict judge for the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court. He practices out of Devils Lake, ND where he lives with his 3 children and wife of 12 years.
Professor Ford has been involved in Native Law issues for more than three decades, beginning with her service as chief judge for the Suquamish Nation west of Seattle. After she joined the faculty at the University of Montana School of Law in 1990, Professor Ford ensured that tribal court jurisdiction was an integral component of the required first year Civil Procedure course, so that it was not just a boutique subject taught to a self-selected cadre of Indian Law students. With Professor Maylinn Smith, Professor Ford successfully encouraged inclusion of Indian Law subjects across the curriculum at Montana. She then published a law review article advocating this approach across the country, which eventually morphed into a symposium at Tulsa.
Professor Ford continued to serve tribal nations during her time at Montana as: an Associate Justice of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Court of Appeals, a trial judge for the Chippewa-Cree on the Rocky Boy’s Tribal Court, and as Chief Judge for the Ft. Belknap Indian Community Court of Appeals.
Professor Ford retired from full-time teaching in 2020, but continues to write and teach lawyers and judges, as well as regular pro bono work through Montana Legal Services. She has a forthcoming book on Montana Evidence law, entitled “Evidently or Not,” which includes two chapters on Evidence Law in Montana’s seven tribal court systems.
Ms. Delorme attended UND and obtained her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice (BSCJS) and International Studies (BA). She then attended UND School of Law, in where she graduated in December 2016 with an Indian Law Certificate. Ms. Delorme then began working with Spirit Lake Nation as a public defender in Spring 2017 and has remained in that position since. Additionally, Ms. Delorme holds indigent defense contracts with the State of ND for the Northeast Central Judicial District, Grand Forks Municipal Court and the Eastern District for the Federal District of North Dakota (both District Court and 8th Circuit Court of Appeals). In addition to indigent defense services, Ms. Delorme opened Delorme Law Office, PLLC in 2020 and retain private criminal defense and custody/divorce clients.
Maggie has worked with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for the past seven years. She started as a prosecutor, but has happily served as a public defender since 2016. Maggie helped to revise the criminal code and the juvenile code, was part of the reentry team, established the first Wellness Court, and continues to defend juveniles in Children’s Court.
Maggie is a 2007 graduate of the Chicago-Kent School of Law. Prior to moving to North Dakota, she worked as a construction lawyer, county arbitrator, patent research analyst, while volunteering as a legal aid attorney and a member of Wills for Heroes, which provided free wills to firefighters and police officers.
She also served as an Assistant State’s Attorney upon moving to Bismarck.
Prior to law school, Maggie had a long career as an engineer and construction manager, never realizing she should have been a lawyer all along. Maggie is happy to have made the switch and even happier with the move to North Dakota.
Erica Thunder serves as Commissioner for North Dakota’s Department of Labor and Human Rights. She became the first Indigenous and youngest person to ever hold a State Cabinet position outside of the Indian Affairs Commission. She also serves as an At-Large appointed Commissioner for the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, along with Governor Burgum as Chairman, three other At-Large Commissioners, and the five (5) Tribal Chairs of MHA Nation, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Standing Rock, Spirit Lake, and Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. She previously served in two Cabinet leadership roles simultaneously, when she twice served as Interim Executive Director of North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission. These three roles held simultaneously were also a historical first: no one Indigenous person has held two separate Cabinet positions, while also serving as a Commissioner for North Dakota Indian Affairs. A proud citizen of the MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara), of Fort Berthold, North Dakota, she grew up in the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota and graduated from Bottineau High School. She received both her Bachelors and Juris Doctorate degrees, as well as Certificate in Indian Law, from the University of North Dakota, as well as its School of Law. She has previously been employed with her Tribe, MHA Nation, as a Staff Attorney for its Legal Department, as well as serving as a Staff Attorney and Project Facilitator for the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin’s Trial Court, as well as its Department of Social Services. Before becoming Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Human Rights, she served as the Judicial Systems Administrator for the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission.