Matthew L.M. Fletcher

Matthew L.M. Fletcher
[Hi-Res Photo]
Professor of Law & Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 405B
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

  • Biography

    Matthew L.M. Fletcher is Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He sits as the Chief Justice of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Supreme Court and also sits as an appellate judge for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians, and the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska. He is a member of the Grand Traverse Band, located in Peshawbestown, Michigan.

    He is the Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law of American Indians. He recently published a hornbook, Federal Indian Law (West Academic Publishing 2016). Professor Fletcher co-authored the sixth and seventh editions of Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law (West Publishing 2011 and 2017). With Wenona Singel and Kathryn Fort, Professor Fletcher is under contract with the American Bar Association to write a tribal law practice guide. He also authored American Indian Tribal Law (Aspen 2011), the first casebook for law students on tribal law; The Return of the Eagle: The Legal History of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (Michigan State University Press 2012); and American Indian Education: Counternarratives in Racism, Struggle, and the Law (Routledge 2008). He co-edited The Indian Civil Rights Act at Forty with Kristen A. Carpenter and Angela R. Riley (UCLA American Indian Studies Press 2012), and Facing the Future: The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30 with Wenona T. Singel and Kathryn E. Fort (Michigan State University Press 2009). Professor Fletcher’s scholarship has been cited twice by the United States Supreme Court; in more than a dozen federal, state, and tribal courts; in dozens of federal, state, and tribal court briefs; and in hundreds of law review articles and other secondary legal authorities. Finally, Professor Fletcher is the primary editor and author of the leading law blog on American Indian law and policy, Turtle Talk,

    Professor Fletcher graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1997 and the University of Michigan in 1994. He has worked as a staff attorney for four Indian Tribes – the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, and the Grand Traverse Band He previously sat on the judiciaries of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; and served as a consultant to the Seneca Nation of Indians Court of Appeals. He is married to Wenona Singel, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and they have two sons, Owen and Emmett.

  • Degrees

    J.D. 1997, University of Michigan Law School; B.A. 1994, University of Michigan

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Courses
    • Advanced Topics in Indian Law
      (Formerly DCL 563) Provides an opportunity for in-depth discussion and examination of current legal issues of federal and tribal law in Indian country including tribal gaming and economic development, tribal policy and governance, treaty rights, international indigenous peoples, and other contemporary topics.
    • Constitutional Law I
      (Formerly DCL 171) An introduction to American constitutional law. This course surveys the distribution of national powers among the Congress, the president and the federal judiciary. After examining the fundamentals of judicial review and its limitations, the course considers the delegated powers of Congress and the tensions between Congress and the president in the exercise of national powers. The course concludes with an overview of governmental immunities. Some sections of Regulatory State and constitutional Law I are taught as a combined class.
    • Federal Law and Indian Tribes
      (Formerly DCL 486) An examination of the law and policy of the United States regarding Indian tribes and their citizen members. Study the relationships between the federal, state, and tribal governments; and examine the source and scope of federal, state and tribal authority in Indian Country
    • Foundations of Law
      The primary focus of this course is to provide first-year students with an introduction to the study of law, with preliminary exposure to legal reasoning, the structure of the American legal system, and fundamental legal-theoretical concepts. This course also seeks to put students who come to the law from a variety of academic backgrounds on a more equal footing.
    • Lawyers & Ethics
      The course is taught in the first-year and supplements the required upper-level required Professional Responsibility course. The course exposes first-year students to the ethical philosophy necessary for making decisions in life, law school, and law practice.
  • Notes
  • Bar Admission(s)

    Arizona, Michigan, Washington

  • Publications

    Digital Commons Publications »

    SSRN Author Page »


    American Indian Education: Counternarratives in Racism, Struggle, and the Law (Routledge 2008)

    Facing the Future: The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30 (co-edited with Wenona T. Singel and Kathryn E. Fort) (2009, Michigan State University Press)

    Selected Articles

    Factbound and Splitless: The Certiorari Process as a Barrier to Justice for Indian Tribes, __ Arizona Law Review __ (forthcoming 2010)

    The Supreme Court’s Indian Problem, 59 Hastings Law Journal 579-642 (2008)

    Preconstitutional Federal Power, 82 Tulane Law Review 510-565 (2007)

    The Original Understanding of the Political Status of Indian Tribes, 82 St. John’s Law Review 153-181 (2008)

    Rethinking the Role of Custom in Tribal Court Jurisprudence, 13 Michigan Journal of Race & Law 57-97 (2007)

    Bringing Balance to Indian Gaming, 44 Harvard Journal on Legislation 39-95 (2007)

    Toward a Theory of Intertribal and Intratribal Common Law, 43 Houston Law Review 701-741 (2006)

    The Supreme Court and Federal Indian Policy, 85 Nebraska Law Review 121-185 (2006)

    Same-Sex Marriage, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution, 61 University of Miami Law Review 53-85 (2006)