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Information is current as of January 2021.

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Resource Directory: Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Tribal Office Address:

Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribal Court, 2175 Shunk, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, 906-635-4963

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians website (links to new window).

Tribal Organization:

  • IRA government formed 1975
  • Constitution enacted 1975
  • Number of Council members — 13
  • Tribal Council term of office — 4 years
  • Number of Tribal members — 43,859

Judicial Organization:

Tribal Court consists of one chief judge and one magistrate who are appointed by the Tribal Board of Directors. The appellate court consists of one chief judge and four associate judges who are appointed by Tribal Board of Directors.

Current Personnel:

  • Chief Judge: Jocelyn K. Fabry
  • Court Admnr./Magistrate: Traci L. Swan
  • Appellate Court Chief Judge: Karrie Wichtman
  • Appellate Judges: Rick Corbiere
  • Elisabeth Dietz
  • Alfred “Fred” Feleppa
  • Lori Jump
  • Court Clerk: Alicia Roy
  • Specialty Ct. Coordinator: Angel Dishaw
  • Chief Tribal Prosecutor: Vacant
  • Deputy Tribal Prosecutor: Mark Esqueda
  • Probation Officers: Nicholas Deplonty & Denise Porter

Territorial Jurisdiction:

The Tribal Court exercises jurisdiction over its reservation lands, which are spread in a checkerboard fashion through-out seven counties in the Upper Peninsula.

Number of Cases Filed During 2020:

  • Criminal Division — 64
  • Child welfare — 13
  • Juvenile — 12
  • Conservation — 58
  • Traffic — 4
  • VAWA — 4
  • Civil — 312
  • Appeals — 2
  • Adoptions — 2

Requirements for Practicing Before Tribal Court:

An application for admission to practice for attorneys is available from the court clerk. Each applicant must certify that they are in good standing with the State Bar of Michigan. Lay advocates are admitted upon completion of an application process.

Court Facilities:

There is a formal courtroom in Sault Ste. Marie. Hearing rooms are used in outer-county service areas.

Intergovernmental Agreements:

Mutual law enforcement agreements exist with six county departments and four municipalities where reservation lands are located. The tribe has adopted Chapter 86 — Enforcement of Foreign Court Judgments.

Special Note:

The Tribal Court has enacted Chapter 85: Tribal Tort Claims Ordinance. In this ordinance, the tribe has limited waiver of its sovereign immunity. This ordinance provides the exclusive means of recovering compensation for personal injury or property damage caused by the tribe. Claims must be presented within six months.

Laws and Procedures:

  • Animal Control
  • Appeals
  • Child Welfare Code
  • Civil Procedure
  • Civil Remedial Forfeiture
  • Crime Victims Rights
  • Criminal Offenses
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Election Ordinance
  • Enforcement of Foreign Court Judgments
  • Evictions and Foreclosures
  • Gaming Ordinance
  • Garnishment Ordinance
  • Guardianship Ordinance
  • Hunting and Inland Fishing
  • Juvenile Code
  • Land Use
  • Marriage Ordinance
  • Membership Ordinance
  • Motor Vehicle Code
  • Personal Protection
  • Treaty Fishing Rules and Regulations
  • Tribal Environmental Protection Authority
  • Tribal Tort Claims Ordinance
  • Workers Compensation Code

In December 2016, the Board of Directors approved amendments to the Tribal Code, Chapter 70, that implemented Tribal Court jurisdiction over non-natives under the Violence Against Women Act. These amendments recognized Sault Tribe’s inherent power to exercise “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction” (SDVCJ) over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit acts of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders on tribal lands.