Peacemaking News

Supreme Court Justices, Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum Honor Peacemaker Patrick Wilson

LANSING, MI, January 16, 2019 — Members of the Michigan Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum ("Forum"), including Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack, convened today at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing to honor Peacemaker Patrick D. Wilson, of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Court. Chief Justice McCormack was joined by Justice Megan K. Cavanagh, the Court's new liaison on tribal issues, and her father, retired Justice Michael F. Cavanagh, in presenting Wilson with a resolution from the Supreme Court for his instrumental work on the Forum and his assistance in starting the Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court—the first state court of its kind in Michigan.

"The work of the Forum is important to all Michigan citizens because it affects how our court systems best serve Michiganders, and the peacemaking process is an essential part of this work," said Chief Justice McCormack. "Peacemaker Wilson is truly a visionary, and I applaud him for helping to bring this approach to justice to the state level."

Forum members in attendance included Judge Timothy Connors, of Washtenaw County Circuit and Peacemaking Courts; Peacemaker Margaret Connors, Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court; William Petoskey, Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court; and Chief Judge Jeffrey Nellis, Mason County Circuit Court.

Representing the Little River Band were Tribal Ogema (or "Chief') Larry Romanelli, Tribal Court Chief Judge Daniel Bailey, Associate Judge Angela Sherigan, Peacemaker Martha Howell, Court Administrator Deborah Miller, and Court Clerk Laurie Willis.

Peacemaking is a traditional Native American approach to problem solving that focuses on healing and restoring relationships between parties in disagreement. It aims to improve the traditional courtroom experience in a process whereby everyone is part of a comprehensive solution. Parties meet in a circle with trained peacemakers. 

Retired Justice Michael Cavanagh cofounded the Michigan Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum with Tribal Judge Michael Petoskey, of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, in 2014 to provide an ongoing venue for judges from all three jurisdictions to convene jointly to improve working relations and communication. It is comprised of judges representing each of Michigan's 12 federally-recognized tribes, 12 state court judges, and federal judges and officials. 

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Honoring Peacemaker Patrick Wilson - Photos by Deb Miller

Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court and Community Partner Michigan Theater Bring Michigan Debut of Dawnland

Dawnland PanelPhoto provided courtesy of Cynthia Price, Legal News

On November 13th, 2018 panelists engage with the audience for nearly two hours after the Michigan debut of Dawnland. Dawnland documents the first governmental Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the United States. It is a dual narrative of the work of Maine’s Commission and the communities and families who have been damaged by governmental policies of removal of their children. Commission member Sandy White Hawk, originally from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota was featured prominently in the film, led the Panel discussion with Peacemaking Court Judge Timothy Connors. Whitehawk is the award winning founder and director of First Nations Repatriation Institute.

“Colonization and our subsequent federal and state policies have been a process of dismembering: dismembering of community, dismembering of spirituality, dismembering of language, dismembering of culture. This is a beginning step of remembering, so that we do not continue to make the same mistakes from the past, but to instead take a path that learns from those mistakes. Only then can we ensure a better future for all of our children, all of our families, and all of our communities. It is also first step towards healing for those so deeply hurt by those mistakes. It is our individual and collective responsibility to assist, when asked to, in that healing process.” said Connors.

In the photo above seated from left to right, Sandy White hawk, Chief Judge Allie Maldanado of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and Native American Anne McKeig, Choctaw tribal member and UM professor Bethany Hughes, Ojibway Tribal member Bradley Nedeau from the upper peninsula, Tribal member Anthony Davis and Cultural Resource Advisor for Little Traverse, Native American student at UM Samora Jackson, Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Timothy Connors.