Bison on plains


Native American Indian Tribes have the sovereign right to govern themselves and their lands, and to exercise that sovereignty in many ways. This includes enacting their own legislation, holding elections, enforcing their own laws, and maintaining independent court systems. Mctlaw helps tribal governments protect those rights, uphold tribal sovereignty, and exercise it for the long-term benefit of the tribe and its citizens.

Developing Tribal Codes, Regulations, and Court Rules

Our attorneys learn the Tribe’s goals and preferred approaches, and then develop legislative or regulatory language that clearly and effectively meets the Tribe’s needs. The types of governance codes we can help you with include: 

  • Developing Tribal Constitutions, Codes, Regulations, and Court Rules 
  • Gaming
  • Criminal codes
  • Civil procedure
  • Timber taxes
  • Cannabis sales
  • Election Codes

We pride ourselves on understanding and implementing the goals of a tribe. Our team recently created an election code for a Tribe that enabled them to hold their first election for a written constitution.

Negotiating Governance and Tax Compacts with Other Governments

The attorneys at mctlaw negotiate intergovernmental compacts with state and local governments for tribal clients. These include class III gaming compacts, cannabis sales compacts, retail tax compacts, and payment in lieu of leasehold excise tax agreements. These can be especially beneficial, particularly for tribes in states where recreational cannabis is legal. Tribes in some states can enter into compacts with the state regarding their on and off reservation cannabis businesses to receive a portion of the tax from the sale.

Obtaining Pub. Law 638 Self-Determination Contracts and Self-Governance Compacts

Public Law 638 gives federally recognized Indian tribes the right to enter contracts with the Federal government to serve their tribal members and other eligible persons. Our firm has significant experience working with the Department of the Interior and the Indian Health Service on Pub. Law 638 contracts and compacts, as well as other sources of federal funding for tribal programs.  

Representing Tribal Government in Tribal Court

Mctlaw currently represents the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe as Tribal Prosecutors and Assistant Attorneys General in the tribes’ respective tribal courts. We represent these tribes in criminal cases, Indian child welfare cases, and cases involving tribal governance and enrollment. In addition, we are available to represent other tribes in their courts as needed.

Advising on Economic Development Opportunities such as Government Contracts

The Tribal and Native SBA 8(a) program gives tribes and native-owned businesses a leg up on the competition to supply federal agencies with goods and services. Our Indian law group includes government contract attorneys who advise tribes from the early planning stages to negotiating and implementing a lucrative contract with the federal government.

Our team of experienced Indian Law attorneys can help with matters like: 

Content Reviewed by Kehl Van Winkle – Indian Law

Headshot of Kehl Van Winkle Indian Law Attorney

Kehl Van Winkle is an attorney at mctlaw based in the Seattle, WA office. His legal practice focuses on Indian Law. Mr. Van Winkle earned his Juris Doctor degree from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Van Winkle worked as an in-house attorney for the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe where he represented the Tribe in a variety of economic development projects, including the opening of a casino and a marijuana dispensary. He also represented the Tribe in State and Tribal Court on Indian Child Welfare Act cases and served as the prosecuting attorney for the Tribe in Tribal Court. 

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