Members’ Legal Assistance Program to Start November 1, 2014
Program Benefits Available to Tribal Members
On Aug. 21, the Tribal Council approved a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and Scope of Services with Michigan Indian Legal Services (MILS) to implement a “Members’ Legal Assistance Program.” MILS provides free legal services to “low-income Indian individuals” throughout the State of Michigan through its regular services. Those services are, in most cases, limited to individuals whose household is below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and are generally limited to the following issues:
- Assistance involving potential removal of Indian children from their homes which involve the Indian Child Welfare Act or Michigan Indian Family Preservation Action.
- Protection of rights guaranteed by Treaty;
- Discrimination due to status as Native Americans;
- Preservation of state or federal benefits/public assistance where no other assistance is available; and
- Legal issues related to the individual’s status as a Native American.
Legal Assistance Available to Members:
In addition to MILS regular services, under the MOA with MILS funded by the Tribal Council, MILS attorneys will offer expanded services to NHBP Members in the following areas:
- Providing legal advice (explaining the law; referrals) for questions involving Member rights or issues arising under the NHBP Constitution or laws/programs. This assistance will be available to ALL Tribal Members and limited to verbal advice only (no drafting of documents or representation in court);
- Assistance with legal matters and appeals involving per capita payments and Tribal benefits (housing, education, health care benefits);
- For Tribal Members whose household income is less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level:
- Estate Planning – drafting simple wills, powers of attorney and similar documents;
- Probating of Estates – assistance in completing forms;
- Representation in Landlord-Tenant/Eviction Proceedings for NHBP Households in Allegan, Barry, Branch, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, Kent, Ottawa, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties;
- Drafting certain real estate documents (purchase/sale agreements); and
- Defense of criminal charges or civil infractions filed against Tribal Members in the NHBP Courts.
HOW DO NHBP MEMBERS ACCESS LEGAL ASSISTANCE?
NHBP Tribal Members who wish to request legal assistance provided under the Members’ Legal Assistance Program should contact Michigan Indian Legal Services at its toll free number: 877-968-6877. MILS staff will gather contact, conflict and income information to verify the NHBP Member’s eligibility for service and factual information regarding the Member’s legal question/concern. If eligible for services, the Member may be transferred directly to an MILS attorney or a follow-up appointment with the MILS attorney may be scheduled.
An MILS attorney will be available for on-site consultation at Pine Creek in the Community Center and in the Grand Rapids office. Please check the schedule above for dates MILS will be on-site for consultation and appointments.
If you have questions regarding the Members’ Legal Assistance Program, please contact the Legal Department at 269.729.5151.