Overview

Lockridge Grindal Nauen has a long history of tribal government representation in Minnesota and Washington D.C. Our team of professionals has a broad range of experience assisting governments on tribal sovereignty, jurisdictional issues, treaty rights, and economic development. With long-standing relationships with tribal leaders and a familiarity with the issues, our attorneys are positioned to offer sophisticated insight on all areas of law affecting Indian country. Further, our government relations team is uniquely positioned to offer experienced and comprehensive representation at the federal, state, and local levels.

Areas of Expertise

  • Federal Government Relations
  • State Government Relations
  • Communications and Public Relations
  • Grassroots
  • Campaign Finance
  • Litigation
  • Tribal Enterprise Business Development

$12 million Federally Funded High School: LGN and their Midwestern Tribal client were successful in securing close to $12 million from Congress and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education for the construction of a new High School to replace the dilapidated, unsafe, and pole barn like structure which had been neglected by the Federal Government who has not upheld their Treaty obligations as it relates to the condition of the school. The high school building that was converted from a barn in 1984 was in much need for repair and was never meant to house students for a prolonged period. Over the years, LGN helped guide federal advocacy efforts of the entire Minnesota Congressional Delegation who called for and succeeded in securing the funding for the replacement of the School.

Bureau of Indian Education School Aid: The LGN State Government Relations team worked to successfully secure equitable funding from the state to support Minnesota’s four BIE schools. In 2015, the legislature lifted a $1,500 per pupil cap on aid for Minnesota students attending BIE schools for the first time since 1989, increasing the cap up to $3,230 per pupil. However the 2015 increase passed as a one-time appropriation—meaning that, without approval of new funds in the 2017 biennial budget, the funding for BIE schools would revert to the lower level in the upcoming fiscal year, amounting to a substantial cut. The LGN team was successful in coordinating efforts to secure a continuation of the tribal contract school aid, amounting to more than $1.6 million in additional funding each year.

Dakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization: LGN worked alongside Minnesota’s Indian Affairs Council to secure state funding to support the preservation and revitalization of the Dakota and Ojibwe languages. More than $1.2 million is appropriated each year to support grants that foster educational and immersion programs. Further, LGN and their Tribal client were successful in securing $125,000 each year as a direct appropriation for an immersion school on their reservation.

Indian Child Welfare: The LGN State Government Relations team secured an additional $1.6 million annual appropriation to support a tribal child welfare program. This program, known as the American Indian Child Welfare Initiative, transfers child welfare services and responsibilities for Indian children living on the reservation from a county based delivery system to a tribal delivery system. Designed to improve child welfare outcomes for Indian children, the program had not received an increase in funding since its inception more than a decade prior. This funding supports family preservation efforts, child abuse prevention, child protection, foster care, mental health screening, reunification, kinship and customary adoption services.

Opioid Reforms: Amidst numerous competing interests and needs resulting from the opioid crisis, the LGN State Government Relations team took a leading role in elevating the needs of tribal communities throughout the policy discussion on opioid reforms. Navigating a complex coalition of stakeholders, the LGN team ensured that the dedicated funding for child protection services – a need that grew significantly as a result of the opioid epidemic – properly identified and included tribal social services agencies in addition to county entities. This fundamental change in language provides for significant, ongoing funding for child protection services on an annual basis. Additionally, the bill prioritizes grants to tribal nations and urban Indian communities for traditional healing, specifically providing $2 million annually for five years for this purpose. A landmark piece of legislation – the LGN team ensured the final bill recognized the needs of Minnesota’s tribal nations.