Lenny Powell, Associate with Jenner & Block, delivered Maine Law’s Third Annual Indian Law and History Lecture on November 17. One of Powell’s main areas of practice is tribal law. He was part of the team that won a landmark 2023 Supreme Court case upholding tribal rights and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
The case, Haaland v. Brackeen, brought by individual plaintiffs and the states of Texas, Indiana, and Louisiana sought to declare ICWA unconstitutional. The ICWA was established in the late 19070s as a means for ending the widespread government practice of removing Native American children from their families and tribes. Had the plaintiffs been successful, Powell said, this would likely have led to a huge setback in the rights of Native Americans generally and the welfare of Native American children specifically. The lecture was followed by a Q&A session and a panel discussion with Eric Mehnert, Penobscot Indian Nation Tribal Court Chief Judge, Esther Anne with Wabanaki REACH, and Ryan Lolar, Staff Attorney with Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s Indigenous People’s Unit.
This lecture series provides vital programming for the benefit of the legal community in the State of Maine, the Tribes in Maine, and the public. The purpose of this event is to offer opportunities to learn from experts about the field of federal Indian law as it applies in Maine and across the United States.