Wenona T. Singel

Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center and Associate Professor of Law

Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 405B
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

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 Federal Law and Indian Tribes, Property, and other courses related to Natural Resources, Environmental Justice, and Indigenous Human Rights.

Prof. Singel’s research and writing address issues related to Tribal Sovereignty and Indigenous Rights. She served as an Associate Reporter (co-author) of the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law, The Law of American Indians from 2012 to 2022. She is also a new co-author of Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law, the leading casebook in the field of Federal Indian Law, and she is writing a book called Indian Removal, Past and Present, that describes the intergenerational impact of federal Indian law and policy on Native families which weaves in stories of multiple generations of her own family’s experience of forcible Indian removal in Michigan; land dispossession at Burt Lake, Michigan; attendance at Michigan Indian boarding schools; and removal of children from their families and placement into foster care and adoptive homes. Prof. Singel’s most recent law review article, co-authored with Matthew Fletcher and titled, Lawyering the Indian Child Welfare Act, was published in the Michigan Law Review in the summer of 2022. Prof. Singel’s scholarship on the Indian Child Welfare Act and the history of federal child removal policies impacting Native children was cited extensively by the U.S. Supreme Court in its recent decision in Haaland v. Brackeen.

Prof. Singel served as deputy legal counsel for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from 2019-21, advising on Tribal-State affairs. She also served as Chief Appellate Justice for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians for thirteen years and Chief Appellate Judge for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Recently, she returned to serve once again as Chief Appellate Justice for the Little Traverse Bay Bands. She is the former president of the Michigan Indian Judicial Association, and she serves on the National Council of the World Wildlife Fund. In 2012, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Advisory Board of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., a position she held until 2017.

Prof. Singel is an enrolled member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and she is a descendant of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians. She was the first in her family to attend college, and she is committed to widening access to higher education and law school for other first generation students. Wenona received an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

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J.D. Harvard Law School
B.A. Harvard College