Tribal Law Specialty Team

In today’s rapidly changing legal landscape, the Tribal Nations confront special issues when they employ Tribal and non-Tribal citizens in commercial enterprises on or off Tribal land, when they enter into agreements or acquire or convey property, when they operate health care clinics, when they provide employee benefit plans to their Tribal citizens and to casino employees, and when they interact with federal, state or local governments. These special issues include:

  • Tribal sovereignty and tribal sovereignty immunity
  • Self-governance charters and ordinances
  • Application of federal laws on Tribal land & treaty exclusions
  • Interaction with non-Tribal members
  • Issues arising under federal statutes, such as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Land Claims Settlement Acts, and the Trade and Non-Intercourse Act
  • Tribal standing to act for the BIA to improve the health of Tribal citizens
  • Application of the Affordable Care Act mandates, HIPAA, and ERISA
  • Tribal-State compacts
  • Intergovernment agreements
  • Authority of Tribal Courts and federal or state court jurisdiction
  • Audit compliance
  • Land to trust submission and agency review
  • Pre-construction and construction contracts
  • Land acquisition and conveyance
  • Environmental concerns
  • Renewable energy sources
  • Trademark protection
  • Government to Government Consultation – missing and murdered Indigenous women
  • New economic development
  • Cannabis
  • Internet betting/gambling

Drawn from across several practice groups, seasoned team members bring their collective wisdom and experience with Tribal Nation matters to bear on these special issues. We offer seasoned and practical solutions to our diverse Tribal Nation clients. We also stay abreast of the rapidly changing legal landscape. In recent years the US Supreme Court has granted leave at an accelerated pace in cases involving Tribal sovereignty issues.

Our tribal clients are reacting to climate change and seeking new sources of economic self-sufficiency.  We have drafted new employee benefit health care plans and retirement plans for Tribal Nations and for their casinos. We also update Tribal Nation plan documents (including prototype retirement plans and their adoption agreements) to keep them current with ever-changing federal regulations. We proactively review service provider agreements and third-party administrator agreements that the Tribes may wish to sign to address issues unique to Tribal Nations and to reduce litigation risk. We draft QMSCO procedures for Tribal Nations as required by federal law. We scrutinize the Business Associate Agreements of Tribal Nations for compliance with HIPAA and in light of the increased cybersecurity requirements under federal and state laws, in conjunction (where needed) with members of Butzel Long’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Specialty Team.  Our litigators work to resolve business disputes but gird for litigation when informal resolution fails.


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