Indian Law Office Services and Programs


Including legal issues covered under the regular Judicare program, the Indian Law Office provides additional assistance by providing the services, projects, and programs as listed below.  Generally, for a client to be eligible for these ILO services, the client must be an enrolled tribal member and otherwise Judicare eligible.  However, in some of the below services/programs, income limits are higher or have no income limits at all.  Please choose a topic below to learn more about how Judicare's Indian Law Office may assist you or click here to view "A Guide to Services for Native Americans."

Ho-Chunk Expanded Services

Through a special agreement with the Ho-Chunk Nation, Judicare is able to offer expanded services to members of the Ho-Chunk Nation who meet this criteria:

  • Reside in Wisconsin
  • Have income under 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (excluding per caps)
  • Have a civil legal issue (not criminal or traffic) that is on our list of priorities

If you are a Ho-Chunk tribal member with a civil law issue, give us a call to see if you qualify for our assistance.

Indian Child Welfare Act

The ILO has litigated ICWA cases in many courts over the years and has been actively involved in providing practice manuals and trainings for attorneys, judges, social workers, and other professionals in the purpose and use of ICWA.

Jay Treaty Issues
The application of the Jay Treaty affects the rights of both U.S. and Canadian Native people in ways such as the crossing of borders and eligibility for government services.

Menominee Criminal Project

Our office hosts a weekly clinic at the Menominee Tribal Courthouse every Tuesday (arraignment day) morning where anyone can stop in and ask one of our attorneys general questions about their tribal criminal case, including advice on their rights, court procedures, tribal law, and sentencing.

We are only able to provide an attorney to represent a very limited number of individuals charged with crimes. We do not represent anyone who is charged with a domestic violence crime. On all other charges, we have to determine if there are meritorious defenses that can be raised at trial beforewe will agree to take the case.

We do not represent individuals on criminal charges in either state or federal court.

Native American Elders Outreach Project
All Native American elders in Wisconsin are eligible to participate in the project. This project provides free outreach, information, and representation to Native American elders throughout Wisconsin on health and income maintenance topics including Medicare, Medical Assistance, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Veteran's Benefits. There is no financial eligibility test. For more information, contact Wisconsin Judicare at (800) 472-1638.

Native American Wills (Wisconsin Indian Estate Planning Project)

The nature of Indian landholdings creates a unique need for estate planning services. Land that was allotted to individual Indians more than a century ago has been inherited through multiple generations, usually without a will, each time becoming increasingly fractionated. This limits the usability of the land and results in unnecessary costs to tribal members who reside on or wish to use or lease their own land. Since this land is held in trust by the federal government, probates of this land are governed by federal law (the American Indian Probate Reform Act). At the same time, these landowners also own personal property and other assets that must be probated under either tribal or state law.

If they do not leave a will, their property will be distributed according to applicable federal, tribal, or state law. Often these laws do not reflect what the individual would have wanted or what is culturally appropriate.

To help tribal members exercise their rights over their land and property and ensure that their personal and cultural wishes are valued, the Indian Law Office of Wisconsin Judicare provides estate planning services for Native Americans living in Wisconsin.

Native Religious Freedom Issues

Our office has expertise in defending and enhancing the rights of Indian people to practice their traditional spiritual ways, including the sacramental use of peyote, protection of sacred sites, access to sacred objects such as eagle feathers, and accommodations for sweat lodges in prisons.

We support and promote the use of traditional peacemaking methods, including talking circles, sentencing circles, mediation, or other forms of peacemaking as part of a trend toward "the re-emergence of indigenous justice.”
A Tribal Benefit Specialist is a person trained to help Tribal Elders who are having a problem with their private or government benefits. A Tribal Benefit Specialist will assist Tribal Elders with the extensive and complicated paperwork that is often required with benefit programs. The Tribal Benefit Specialist will help Tribal Elders determine for which benefits they are eligible, identify a process to apply for benefits, and assist in the application process. If a Tribal Elder is denied a benefit, the Tribal Benefit Specialist can also assist the Tribal Elder in an appeal process. Tribal Benefit Specialists are provided ongoing training and legal backup by the Indian Law Office of Wisconsin Judicare.

Tribal Court Development

Our Indian law Office is available to assist tribes with the development of their judicial services. This includes drafting specific tribal laws and tribal court rules, training Guardians ad litem to practice in a particular tribal court, community education on the scope and practice of tribal courts, and intergovernmental judicial relationships. 

A Tribal Disability Benefit Specialist is a person who will help disabled tribal members answer questions and solve problems related to Social Security, Medicare, health insurance and other public and private benefits. They serve people ages 18-59 with a physical or a developmental disability, a mental illness, or a substance abuse disorder. Services are free and confidential.

The Tribal Disability Benefit Specialists are located at Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council Offices in Lac du Flambeau and serve tribal members located on or near any of Wisconsin’s 11 federally recognized tribes.

Tribal Disability Benefit Specialists receive training and legal assistance from the State of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare’s Indian Law Office.

If you’d like to contact a Disability Benefit Specialist and are an enrolled tribal member living on or near one of the following tribes, please call GLITC at (800) 472-7207.

  • For Bad River, Ho-Chunk Nation, Lac du Flambeau, Lac Courte Oreilles, Red Cliff, and St. Croix Tribes, please ask for Lisa Ludwig at Ext. 178.
  • For Forest County Potawatomi, Oneida, Menominee, Sokaogon, and Stockbridge-Munsee Tribes, please ask for Ann Cleereman at Ext. 122.

Tribal Jurisdiction Issues

We have extensive experience in litigation, negotiation, and education when it comes to the complexities of jurisdiction. Whether it is the applicability of Public Law 280, a determination of the court in which a case should be venued, a question of which government officials have authority to take actions, or which laws to apply – in all such cases, tribal sovereignty is a consideration and that makes jurisdictional issues always important issues.

Tribal, State, and Federal Indian Law

We are advocates for the interpretation and application of all "Indian laws” in ways that protect and enhance the rights of tribes and their members.

The Native American Elders Outreach Project (NAEOP) began in March 1993 with a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Community Services.

A Tribal Benefit Specialist is a Native American person trained to help Tribal Elders who are having a problem with their private or government benefits.