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List of Native American jurists

This is a dynamic list of Native Americans who are or were judges, magistrate judges, court commissioners, administrative law judges or tribal court judges. If known, it will be listed if a judge has served on multiple courts and their tribal membership.

Judge Court/agency and years of service (if known) State/territory Status
Abby Abinanti (Yurok)[1] San Francisco Superior Court (Commissioner: c. 1990–2011; 2014–2015); Yurok Tribal Court (1997–present; Chief Judge: 2007–present) California active
Dawn Baum (Menominee)[2] Yurok Tribal Court (appt. 2017-2023) California deceased
Jessica R. Bear (Meshwaki Nation)[3] Meskwaki Nation Tribal Court (2007–2013; Chief Judge: 2013–present) Iowa active
Jennifer D. Benally (Navajo)[4] District Court for the Navajo Nation (1984–1995) Arizona deceased
Robert A. Blaeser (Anishinaabe)[5] Fourth Judicial District-Hennepin County (1995–2012) Minnesota retired
Evelyne Bradley (Navajo)[4] Kayenta Judicial Court (1998–2014) Arizona active
Leo Brisbois (White Earth Band of Ojibwe)[6] United States District Court for the District of Minnesota (Magistrate Judge) (2010–present) Minnesota active
Sandy Dexter Brooks (Lumbee)[7][8] Robeson County Superior Court North Carolina deceased
Ada E. Brown (Choctaw Nation)[9] Fifth Court of Appeals of Texas (2013–2019); United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas (2019–present) Texas active
Michelle Brown-Yazzie (Navajo Nation)[10] Mescalero Apache Tribal Court (2011–present; Brown-Yazzie has served as a Chief Judge) New Mexico active
Michael Burrage (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)[11] United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma/United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma/United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (1994–2001; Chief Judge: 1996–2001) Oklahoma resigned
Brooke Locklear Clark (Lumbee)[12] Robeson County District Court (2018–present) North Carolina active
Chantel Cloud (Southern Ute)[13] Southern Ute Tribal Court (2013–2018) Colorado inactive
Charles Cloud (Cherokee Nation)[10] Norfolk General District Court Virginia retired
Shirley Cogswell (Passamaquoddy)[14] Pleasant Point – Passamaquoddy Tribal Court Maine deceased
Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee)[15] Supreme Court of the Pawnee Nation Oklahoma active
Eldena Bear Don’t Walk (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes)[16] Chief Justice of the Crow Tribe (2007–2011) Montana inactive
Fred W. Gabourie (Seneca people)[17][18][19] Los Angeles County Municipal Court (appointed 1976) California retired
Carrie Garrow (Akwesasne)[20] St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Court New York active
Lydia Kay Griggsby[21] United States Court of Federal Claims (2014–2021); United States District Court for the District of Maryland (2021–present) Maryland active
Keith Harper (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma)[22] Mashantucket Pequot Tribe's Appellate Court (2001–2007); Supreme Court of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (2007–2008) Montana inactive
P.J. Herne (Akwesasne)[23] St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Court (Chief Judge: appt. 2008) New York inactive
Sara E. Hill[21] United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (2023–present) Oklahoma active
Gilbert Horn Sr. (Assiniboine)[24] Fort Belknap Tribal Juvenile Court Montana deceased
Diane Humetewa (Hopi)[25] Hopi Appellate Court (2002–2007); United States District Court for the District of Arizona (2014–present) Arizona active
Joey Jayne (Navajo)[26][27] Justice of the Peace in Lake and Sanders Counties (2012–2014) Montana resigned
William Bluehouse Johnson (Pueblo of Isleta)[28] Isleta Pueblo Appellate Court New Mexico active
William D. Johnson (Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation)[29] Umatilla Tribal Court (1980–present; Chief Judge: 1988–present) Oregon active
B.J. Jones[30] Chief Judge of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Court, Chief Judge of the Prairie Island Indian Community Court, Chief Justice of the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court of Appeals, Special Magistrate of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribal Court, Associate Judge for the Fort Berthold District Court, Associate Judge for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court, Associate Justice for the Oglala Sioux Tribal Court and the Flandreau-Santee Sioux Tribal Courts, Deputy Judge for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe North Dakota inactive
Lauren J. King (Muscogee (Creek) Nation)[31] Northwest Intertribal Court System (2013–2021); United States District Court for the Western District of Washington (2021–present) Washington active
Gary Larance (Hopi)[32] Bishop Paiute Tribe Court (2020–present) California active
Ira Left Hand Sr. (Crow)[33] Tribal Court of the Crow Indian Reservation (c. 1980) Montana deceased
Patricia Lenzi (St. Regis Mohawk Tribe)[34] Court of Appeals, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (2012– ; Chief Judge: 2020) California active
Brad Letts (Cherokee)[35] North Carolina 30th Judicial District Court (2000–2019) North Carolina retired
Gilbert M. Lopez[36][37] Los Angeles County Superior Court (2001–2020) California retired
Phil Lujan (Kiowa)[38] Citizen Potawatomi Nation Judge Oklahoma active
Merwin Lynch (Navajo)[39] Puerco District of Apache County (Justice of the Peace); Navajo Nation Supreme Court Arizona deceased
Kelly K.E. Mahoney (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma)[40] United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa (2016–present) Iowa active
Allie Greenleaf Maldonado (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians)[41] Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Tribal Court (2012–present) Michigan active
John Manydeeds (Standing Rock Sioux)[42][43] Eau Claire County Court (2016–present) Wisconsin active
Joshua D. Malcolm (Lumbee)[44] Chief Justice, Supreme Court of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina (2017–present) North Carolina active
John Martin (Cherokee)[45] Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation (c. 1820s) Tennessee deceased
Lacy Maynor (Lumbee)[46] Maxton Recorder's Court (c. 1950s) North Carolina deceased
Angelica Chavis McIntyre (Lumbee)[12] Robeson County District Court (2018–present) North Carolina active
Anne McKeig (White Earth Band of Ojibwe)[47] Minnesota Fourth District Court (2008–2016); Minnesota Supreme Court (2016–present) Minnesota active
Robert Medina (Zia Pueblo)[48][49] Pueblo of Isleta Tribal Court & Justice; Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals New Mexico active
Arvo Mikkanen (Comanche/Kiowa)[50] Court of Indian Offenses for the Anadarko Area Tribes (1988–1994); Supreme Court of the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribes (1991–1994). Oklahoma inactive
Andrea Miller[51] 12th Judicial District Court (2017– ) Nebraska active
Mark A. Montour (St. Regis Mohawk)[52] New York State Supreme Court (2013–present) New York active
Raquel Montoya-Lewis (Pueblo of Laguna)[53] Whatcom County Superior Court (2015–2020); Washington Supreme Court (2020–present) Washington active
Debra O’Gara (Tlingit)[54] Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) Tribal Court (2007–present) Alaska active
Richard Osburn (Cherokee Nation)[55] Mille Lacs Band Tribal Court (2008–2014) Minnesota inactive
Patricia Paul (Iñupiat)[56] Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Tribal Court Oregon active
Mary Peltola (Yup'ik)[57][58] Orutsararmiut Native Council Tribal Court (2020–2021) Alaska retired
James Phillips (Cherokee)[59] Grays Harbor County Superior Court (1929–1950) Washington deceased
Joseph Plumer (Leech Lake Band of Chippewa Indians)[60] Meskwaki Nation Tribal Court (2005–present; Plumer has served as a Chief Judge) Iowa active
David Raasch (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians)[61] Stockbridge Munsee Tribal Court (elected in 2009) Wisconsin inactive
Dustin Rowe (Chickasaw)[62][63] Chickasaw Nation District Court (2005–2019); Oklahoma Supreme Court (2019–present) Oklahoma active
Steve Russell (Cherokee)[64] Austin Municipal Court (1978–1982); Travis County Court of Law No. 2 (1982–1995) Texas retired
Deborah L. Sanchez (Chumash)[65] Los Angeles County Superior Court (2006–present) California active
Frank Howell Seay (Cherokee)[66] United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma (1979–present) Oklahoma inactive
Debra Shopteese (Sac and Fox Nation)[67][68] Massachusetts State District Court (2011–present) Massachusetts active
Barbara Smith (Chickasaw Nation)[69] District Court Judge for the Chickasaw Nation; Supreme Court of the Chickasaw Nation Oklahoma deceased
Terri Smith (Northern Arapaho Tribe)[70] Wind River Indian Reservation Tribal Court Wyoming resigned
George W. Soule (White Earth Nation)[71] White Earth Band of Ojibwe and Prairie Island Indian Community Court of Appeals Minnesota active
Melvin R. Stoof (Rosebud Sioux Tribe)[72] Pascua Yaqui Trial Court (2004–present) Arizona active
Sunshine Sykes (Navajo)[21][73] Riverside County Superior Court (2013–2022); United States District Court for the Central District of California (2022– ) California active
William A. Thorne, Jr. (Pomo)[74] Utah Court of Appeals (1986–2013) Utah retired
Jill E. Tompkins (Penobscot)[14] Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Court of Appeals (2002) Maine active
Margaret Seelye Treuer (Ojibwe)[75] Bois Forte Tribal Court; Leach Lake Tribal Court; United States District Court of Minnesota (U.S. Magistrate) Minnesota deceased
Carol Jean Vigil (Pueblo)[76] New Mexico 1st Judicial District Judge (1998–2005) New Mexico deceased
Philip Viles (Cherokee)[77] Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation (1976–2002; Viles served as Chief Justice during his tenure); Supreme Court of Georgia (Sitting judge: 1993) Oklahoma retired
Korey Wahwassuck (Cree)[78] Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribal Court; Minnesota Ninth Judicial District Minnesota active
Sarah Wheelock (Meskwaki)[79][80] Minnesota Court of Appeals (2021– ) Minnesota active
Claudette C. White (Quechan Indian Tribe)[81] San Manuel Tribal Court (Chief Judge: 2018–2021) California deceased
Ronald J. Whitener (Squaxin Island Tribe)[82] Northwest Intertribal Court of Appeals; Chehalis Tribal Court of Appeals; Upper Skagit Tribal Court of Appeals Washington active
Samuel Winder (Southern Ute)[83] New Mexico Second Judicial District Court (2011–present) New Mexico active
Joseph J. Wiseman[84] Northern California Intertribal Court; Court of Appeals, Round Valley Indian Tribes California active

Other topics of interest


  1. ^ "Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe". Capitol Weekly. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  2. ^ "Dawn Baum Sworn in as a Tribal Judge". Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Mole Lake Band. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  3. ^ "Trial Court-Judges". MESKWAKI NATION TRIBAL COURT. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Former judge: Arizona can be like a trail ride". Navajo Times. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  5. ^ "The Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation". Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  6. ^ "Aurora native becomes state's first American Indian magistrate judge". Duluth News Tribune. November 5, 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  7. ^ "Remembering senior resident Superior Court judge Sandy Dexter Brooks. | The Lumbee Indians". Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  8. ^ Bennett, Walter (February 15, 2010). The Lawyer's Myth: Reviving Ideals in the Legal Profession. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226042565.
  9. ^ "Ada Brown Confirmed to be Federal Judge for Texas". Spelman College. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Tribal Advisory Board-TAB Members". The National Judicial College. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  11. ^ "Jean Williams, 1st Black female municipal judge in Phoenix, dies". AZCentral. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "McIntyre brings youthful touch to District Court". Robesonian. January 3, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  13. ^ "The Southern Ute Drum | Chantel Cloud becomes chief judge". Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Bissonette, Nicole R.; Day, Katie; Chardon, Alexis Garmey (2021). "Women Lawyers in Maine: 150 Years and Counting" (PDF). Maine Bar Journal. 36.
  15. ^ "Walter Echo-Hawk on Supreme Court Failures". Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  16. ^ "Living Her Dream: Eldena Bear Don't Walk Discusses Her Law Career". Indigenous Governance Database. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  17. ^ Andersen, Cameron Estelle; Committee, California Judges Association History (1992). The story of the California Judges Association: the first sixty years. Bancroft-Whitney.
  18. ^ Rosenthal, Nicolas G. (May 15, 2012). Reimagining Indian Country: Native American Migration and Identity in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles. Univ of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9780807869994.
  19. ^ White, Phillip M. (2006). American Indian Chronology: Chronologies of the American Mosaic. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313338205.
  20. ^ "Latter-day Saint and Mohawk tribe member answers to both 'Sister' and 'Judge'". Church News. May 31, 2018. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  21. ^ a b c "American Indian Judges on the Federal Courts". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  22. ^ "Cherokee Citizen Keith Harper Named US Representative to UN Human Rights Council". Native News Online. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  23. ^ Arnold, Aaron; Wolf, Robert V. (2009). "P.J. Herne, Chief Judge, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Court, Akwesasne, New York". Journal of Court Innovation. 2: 359.
  24. ^ "Gilbert Horn Sr. (1923 – 2016)". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  25. ^ "Senate Confirms First-Ever Native American Woman As Federal Judge". HuffPost. May 15, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  26. ^ "6 Questions With Joey Jayne, Montana's First Native Woman Justice Court Judge - Indian Country Media Network". Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  27. ^ "Char-Koosta News - Joey Jayne is the new Justice of Peace". Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  28. ^ "Trial Court-Judges". MESKWAKI NATION TRIBAL COURT. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  29. ^ "Johnson: 'It's for my own tribe. I can't imagine not doing it.'". East Oregonian. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  30. ^ NICHOLSON, BLAKE. "Tribal chairman: Judges not discriminated against". Bismarck Tribune. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  31. ^ "U.S. Senate confirms first Native American federal judge in WA history". Tri-City Herald. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  32. ^ "GARY LARANCE APPOINTED NEW BISHOP TRIBAL COURT JUDGE". Sierra Wave Media. February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  33. ^ "Ira Left Hand Sr". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  34. ^ "Judicial Profile: Tribal Court Judge Patricia Lenzi". California Courts Newsroom. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  35. ^ Ellison, Quintin (August 8, 2000). "District court judge makes state history". Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  36. ^ "Judge Gilbert M. Lopez for Los Angeles County Superior Court in California". Trellis. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  37. ^ "Judge Gilbert M. Lopez to Retire Oct. 23 After 25-Year Career on the Bench". Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  38. ^ "Q&A: Judge Phil Lujan — 'I can't say I liked law school'". NONDOCe. October 27, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  39. ^ "Former Navajo judge Merwin Lynch passes". Navajo-Hopi Observer News. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  40. ^ "Judge Kelly K.E. Mahoney | Northern District of Iowa | United States District Court".
  41. ^ Gingrich, Lindsay. "Building bridges Judge creating networks between state, tribal courts". Petoskey News-Review. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  42. ^ "Judge sworn in with sense of humility". Leader-Telegram. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  43. ^ According to various sources, Manydeeds was considered the first Native American judge in Wisconsin upon his appointment to the bench.
  44. ^ "GOVERNMENT". lumbee-tribe-of-nc. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  45. ^ "House of History". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  46. ^ Gerard, Philip (July 29, 2019). "The 1950s: Long Live the Lumbee". Our State. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  47. ^ "Anne McKeig sworn in as Minnesota's first Native American Associate Supreme Court Justice". Pioneer Press. September 16, 2016. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  48. ^ "Tribal Advisory Committee Members | Indian Law and Order Commission". Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  49. ^ "Tribal sheriff gives presentation on Zia symbol's history". The Eastern New Mexico News. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  50. ^ "Arvo Mikkanen". The Journal Record. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  51. ^ "Former NCIA board chairwoman Andrea Miller is first Native American District Judge. | NCIA". Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  52. ^ "Montour sworn-in as first Native American state court judge". The Buffalo News. December 20, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  53. ^ "Raquel Montoya-Lewis named as first Native American to Washington Supreme Court". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  54. ^ "Judge runs Tribal Court with comforting, serious demeanor". AP. May 5, 2018. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  56. ^ "Patricia Paul: Overcoming hardships and becoming a tribal judge". Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  57. ^ "CANDIDATE Q&A: U.S. House — Mary Peltola". Anchorage Daily News. August 7, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
  58. ^ Hounshell, Blake (August 31, 2022). "Mary Peltola, a Democrat, Defeats Sarah Palin in Alaska's Special House Election". New York Times. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  59. ^ "Washington State Courts". Washington Court News. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  60. ^ "Trial Court-Judges". MESKWAKI NATION TRIBAL COURT. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  61. ^ Arnold, Aaron (2009). "David Raasch, Judge, Stockbridge-Munsee Trial Court, Bowler, Wisconsin". Journal of Court Innovation. 2: 381.
  62. ^ "State Supreme Courts See Progress on Diversity but Still Fall Short". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  63. ^ "In State with 27% Black Population, All Alabama Appellate Judges Are White". Equal Justice Initiative. March 11, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  64. ^ "Native American cultural identity still a fight, says Cherokee Judge Russell". The Carletonian. November 11, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  65. ^ "The Honorable Deborah L. Sanchez". Trellis. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  66. ^ "Frank Howell Seay". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  67. ^ "The Office of Senate President Karen E. Spilka Women's History Month" (PDF). Office of the Senate. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  68. ^ According to various sources, Shopteese is the first Native American (female) judge in Massachusetts.
  69. ^ "Former Chickasaw Nation Supreme Court Justice Barbara Smith passes away | Chickasaw Times". Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  70. ^ "Trial Court-Judges". K2 Radio. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  71. ^ "2019 Attorneys of the Year: George W. Soule and Melissa R. Stull". Minnesota Lawyer. February 7, 2020. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  72. ^ "Native Americans Face Legal Challenges In Domestic Violence Cases". Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  73. ^ "Sunshine Suzanne Sykes". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  74. ^ "Utah judge made a career of treating people with respect". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  75. ^ "Margaret Seelye Treuer, Minnesota's first Ojibwe judge, dies at 76". Star Tribune. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  76. ^ "Nation's first Native American female judge dies". Associated Press. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
  77. ^ "Philip Viles". The University of Tulsa. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  78. ^ "Minnesota Judicial Branch - Bio". Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  79. ^ "Alumni News and Moves – Fall 2021 | Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP". Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  80. ^ "Sarah Wheelock appointed to Minnesota Court of Appeals". Retrieved March 5, 2022.
  81. ^ Shoji, Kenneth (January 25, 2018). "Chief Judge of San Manuel Tribal Court is Veteran Jurist" (PDF). San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
  82. ^ "Tulalip Tribal Court || Home – About Us – Judges And Director Bio". Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  83. ^ "NM Court Swears-In 1st Native American GOP Judge". November 21, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  84. ^ "Osage Congresswoman helps tribal courts with skills trainings". Retrieved June 14, 2020.
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List of Native American jurists
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