Wenona T. Singel

Wenona T. Singel
[Hi-Res Photo]
Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center and Associate Professor of Law
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 405A
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

  • Biography

    Wenona T. Singel is an Associate Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and the Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center. She teaches courses in the fields of federal Indian law and natural resources law, and her research and publications address the development of tribal legal systems and tribal accountability for human rights.

    She served as Deputy Legal Counsel for the office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer from January of 2019 through January of 2021, advising Governor Whitmer on tribal-state affairs. Professor Singel, an enrolled member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, was the first tribal citizen in Michigan’s history to hold that position. Her other professional activities have included serving as the Chief Appellate Justice for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and service as the Chief Appellate Judge for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. From 2006-2009, she served as President and Board Member of the Michigan Indian Judicial Association. On March 29, 2012, the United States Senate passed by unanimous consent President Barack Obama's nomination of her to serve as a member of the Advisory Board of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, a position she held until 2017. Ms. Singel is also an elected member of the American Law Institute, where she is the Co-Reporter for the project to develop a Restatement of the Law of American Indians.

    Prior to joining MSU College of Law, Ms. Singel was an Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota School of Law and a Fellow with the Northern Plains Indian Law Center. Before teaching, she worked in private practice with firms that included Kanji & Katzen, P.L.L.C. in Ann Arbor, MI, and Dickinson Wright in Bloomfield Hills, MI. She served as a member of the Economic Development Commission of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and as General Counsel for the Grand Traverse Resort, a tribally-owned resort in northern Michigan. Ms. Singel received an A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

  • Degrees

    J.D., Harvard Law School; A.B., Social Studies, magna cum laude, Harvard College

  • 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.

    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

    Indigenous Law and Policy Center
    (Formerly DCL 625) This experiential learning course addresses the issues involved in creating and operating tribal judiciaries, and the federal, state, and tribal tax laws that affect tribal governance. Students learn about the appellate process in tribal court systems, including preparation of bench memoranda for pending cases in tribal appellate courts. Students also have the opportunity to assist in developing tribal court structures and improving tribal court administration. In addition, students assist in drafting tribal tax codes, creating administrative tax tribunals, and handling tax controversies for qualifying clients. Other projects may include legislative and policy work for tribal governments, including drafting and revising tribal laws and providing legal assistance regarding land tenure systems.

    Indigenous Law and Policy Center II
    (Formerly DCL 625A) Continuation of ILPC I

    Natural Resources Law
    (Formerly DCL 463) This course will explore the legal regimes under which public natural resources are allocated and managed. In addition, this course will consider the laws governing federal public lands, which constitute one-third of the nation. Special attention will be given to the costs and benefits of resources development and conservation, and to the philosophical, historical and constitutional underpinnings of natural resources law and policy. Resources studied will include forests, minerals, oil and gas, rangeland, recreation, water, wilderness and wildlife.

    (Formerly DCL 113) This is a survey course of the fundamentals of property law. Possessory interests of real and personal property including findings, bailments and adverse possession are discussed and analyzed. Topics also include future interests, concurrent ownership, lease holds, transfers of land and land use controls.

  • Bar Admission(s)

    State Bar of Michigan, United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

  • Publications

    Law Faculty Repository »

    SSRN Author Page »

    Indian Tribes and Human Rights Accountability, 49 SAN DIEGO L. REV. __ (forthcoming 2012)

    Indian Country Law Enforcement and Cooperative Public Safety Agreements, 89-FEB Mich.B.J. 42 (2010) (co-authored with Matthew L.M. Fletcher and Kathryn E. Fort)

    Introduction: New Directions for International Law and Indigenous Peoples, 45 Idaho L. Rev. 509 (2009)

    The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30: Facing the Future (Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Kathryn E. Fort, and Wenona T. Singel, eds., MSU Press 2009) (collection of 12 essays)

    Introduction: Indian Experience and Randall Kennedy's Mythology, in The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30: Facing the Future (Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Kathryn E. Fort, and Wenona T. Singel, eds., MSU Press 2009) (co-authored with Matthew L.M. Fletcher) (collection of 12 essays)

    The Institutional Economics of Tribal Labor Relations, 2008 Mich. St. L. Rev. 487 (2008) (symposium)

    Contributor, The Encyclopedia of American Indian History, Bruce E. Johansen and Barry M. Pritzker, eds. (ABC-CLIO 2007)

    Indian Treaties and the Survival of the Great Lakes, 2006 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1285 (2006) (co-authored with Matthew L.M. Fletcher) (symposium)

    Cultural Sovereignty and Transplanted Law: Tensions in Indigenous Self-Rule, 15 Kan. J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 357 (2006) (symposium)

    Power, Authority and Tribal Property, 41 Tulsa L. Rev. 21-50 (2006) (co-authored with Matthew L.M. Fletcher) (symposium)

    Labor Relations and Tribal Self-Governance, 80 N.D. L. Rev. 691 (2004) (symposium)