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Whitmer appoints first tribal citizen to Mich. Court of Appeals                                    

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Whitmer appoints first tribal citizen to Mich. Court of Appeals                                    

Dec 06, 2022 | 2:30 pm ET
By Laina G. Stebbins
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Whitmer appoints first tribal citizen to Mich. Court of Appeals                                    
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LTBB Chief Judge Allie Greenleaf Maldonado | Courtesy photo

Updated, 7:20 p.m., 12/6/22

A renowned chief tribal judge in Michigan has been appointed to be the first Indigenous person to sit on the Michigan Court of Appeals, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday.

Allie Greenleaf Maldonado is the chief judge for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB) Tribal Court, an LTBB citizen and member of the Turtle Clan. She is now the first tribal citizen to ever be appointed to Michigan’s second-highest court.

“I am humbled and honored to be trusted by Gov. Whitmer for this appointment to the Michigan Court of Appeals,” Maldonado said Tuesday. “I look forward to taking all of my professional experience and diligently applying it to the work ahead of me.

“This is a moment of importance not just for me, but for all of Indian Country as the governor’s wisdom in this appointment sends a message about the critical importance of the work of tribal courts. I am grateful to the governor and her team, and I look forward to giving all of Michigan my best.”

Whitmer made the appointment after attending a state-tribal summit in Sault Ste. Marie, where the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is based. In 2019, Whitmer signed an executive directive to reaffirm and extend Michigan’s commitment to recognize the sovereignty and right to self-governance of Michigan’s 12 federally-recognized tribes.

“The state of Michigan and sovereign tribal nations must continue working together on our shared priorities and maintain an open, productive dialogue to get things done on the kitchen-table issues,” Whitmer said. “I am committed to working alongside tribal leaders to make a real difference in people’s lives and continue growing our economies. Our fortunes are linked, and we must collaborate to move our nations forward.”   

Prior to serving as the LTBB chief judge, Maldonado served as a pro tem judge for the Sault Tribe, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. She is a nationally recognized expert on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA), the latter of which she helped craft.

Maldonado’s appointment was made to fill a partial term following the retirement of Judge Amy Ronayne Krause, and her current term will span from Jan. 9, 2023, to Jan. 1, 2025. She will need to run for reelection in November 2024 in order to serve the remainder of Krause’s term, which expires on Jan. 1, 2027.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Michigan Court of Appeals judges are not subject to the advice and consent of the state Senate.