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Native American Lawyer - Tribal Law Attorneys

Native American Law and Policy

Many of the objectives sought and decisions made by Native American tribes involve legal or governmental interaction on a tribal, state or federal level. Regardless of the issue or the forum, Barnes & Thornburg attorneys have the experience to provide effective and thorough legal guidance. We have advised tribes on a variety of issues across the U.S. Our Washington, D.C., office's experience in public law and policy adds to the breadth of services we offer.

Our attorneys are able to provide a full range of services to Native American tribes and we understand the unique environment and issues associated with representation of tribal sovereign nations. We have an established track record with the tribes we have represented in delivering sound guidance on establishing and maintaining quality healthcare services; lobbying the federal government on numerous issues, including federal funding and grants; and assisting with pubic and private financing, tax, real estate and environmental issues.

Public Policy Law

As issues continue to develop on the federal level, we work with tribal elected officials on issues in Washington that affect Indian Country. We combine the resources of a large law firm with on-the-ground tactical capabilities, working with clients as they interact with tribal, local, state and federal government officials and agencies.

We work with virtually all the agencies of the federal government and have experience providing representation and issue advocacy before Congress, the Executive Branch and a number of federal agencies.

Addressing Your Legal Needs

As a full-service law firm, we offer Native American tribes a wide range of services to help your communities, government agencies and departments, and businesses grow and thrive, and stay compliant with ever-changing applicable laws. We assist with a variety of public project financing, public-private partnerships and real estate acquisition and zoning matters; advise on creating and maintaining healthcare contractual arrangements with outside providers for purchased/referred care, facilitation of healthcare services, strategic planning, development of a state-of-the-art clinic and integration of multispecialty services. We continue to provide healthcare legal services regarding provider contracting, clinical services, pharmacy regulation, licensure issues, HIPAA compliance, Medicare matters, and healthcare regulatory guidance.

Additional services we provide to tribes include:

  • Litigation, arbitration and appellate
  • Labor and employment
  • Gaming and compact negotiation
  • Environmental services (including water and mineral rights)
  • Energy and renewable energy
  • Internal investigations
  • Declination letters/management agreements

We understand that you seek creativity, collaboration and commitment from your legal counsel to help manage and better predict legal fees.

Our work in the area of tribal law and our representative experience includes:

  • Serving as federal lobbying representatives for a tribe with more than 10,000 members. We provide representation before Congress, the executive branch, Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, National Indian Gaming Commissions, and the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Transportation and Agriculture.
  • Securing federal funding and grants, including programs that we helped create that provide better healthcare for tribes throughout the country. We also worked with the Department of Agriculture to secure the single largest loan package to an Indian tribe, thereby enabling this tribe to open a state-of-the-art $55 million hospital to provide better healthcare to their members.
  • Positioning Native American tribal clients to be leaders on recent key issues that have benefited all of Indian country. Last year, we helped lead the successful effort to codify the General Welfare Exclusion (GWE) into law. Through our relationships, we helped secure passage of an act that excluded certain benefits provided to Tribal members from taxation by the IRS. We established a coalition to secure passage of a stand-alone piece of tax legislation.
  • Working to help secure changes to the Violence Against Women Act that now allow tribes to prosecute crimes of violence committed on the reservation against Native women perpetrated by their non-Indian assailants.
  • Assisting Indian tribes and lenders throughout the United States (including in New York, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Washington and Arizona) in over $3 billion of public and private financing, investment, lending and restructuring transactions, including credit facilities, mezzanine facilities, and taxable and tax-free bond issuances, generally in the resort, gaming, hospitality and infrastructure sectors.

Practice Leaders

Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis

Native American Law and Policy Chair

Grand Rapids

P 616-742-3980

F 616-742-3999


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