Published January 6, 2016
MANISTEE, MICHIGAN — A decade after the original case was filed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit delivered its decision January 5th on the Kelsey v. Pope case involving misconduct by a Little River Band of Ottawa Indians tribal council member and tribal citizen against a tribal employee during an activity in the Tribal Community Center located in Filer Township (Manistee).
The Community Center is located outside of the tribes’ 1836 reservation boundaries and this became the basis for appeal of the (Tribal Court) sentence as the defendant claimed that the tribe did not have jurisdiction because of the location of the crime.
Following numerous court proceedings and decisions, the Sixth Circuit Court finally heard the case and determined that the tribe (Band) did indeed have jurisdiction because the defendant was a tribal member and because his conduct “clearly implicates core governmental concerns and substantially affects the tribe’s ability to control its self-governance,” the court said in its decision.
The court went on to say, “This is no run-of-the-mill criminal conduct, but conduct visited on the Band’s employee by the Band’s own elected official during an official tribal function: in pure form, this was an offense against the peace and dignity of the Band itself.”
The Tribe believes this outcome is a victory for Tribal sovereignty and a victory for the rights of Native women everywhere.
The court case was an appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids.
CLICK HERE to view copy of court decision.