MSU College of Law

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

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 is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, located in Peshawbestown, Michigan. He is the Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement, Third, The Law of American Indians. 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, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the Lower Elwha Tribe, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, and the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska.

With David Getches, Charles Wilkinson, and Robert Williams, Professor Fletcher co-authored the sixth edition of Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law (Thomson West 2011). Professor Fletcher is under contract with West Publishing to write a hornbook on federal Indian law. 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 has published articles with American Indian Law Review, Arizona Law Review, California Law Review Circuit, University of Colorado Law Review, Harvard Journal on Legislation, Michigan Law Review First Impressions, Yale Law Journal Online, and many others. 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, and he has been 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.

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

  • 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.

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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)