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Advocating for Justice

Regional Native Public Defense Corporation (RNPDC) is a Native-led non-profit law firm headquartered in Cass Lake, Minnesota. It was established to provide innovative criminal defense representation to members of federally recognized tribes living in and around the Leech Lake and White Earth reservations.  


RNPDC addresses the issue of Native people's disproportionate presence in the criminal justice system. Guided by a Native American worldview and grounded in community connections, we embarked on a journey towards a different concept of justice. Our approach unites attorneys and staff as frontline allies, advocating for those harmed by unjust systems that perpetuate cycles of family separation, poverty, and racial discrimination.


Holistic Defense 

Many structural challenges and systemic barriers contribute to disproportionate incarceration rates and a high likelihood of recidivism. A lack of resources, disconnection from community support, institutional discrimination, and historical trauma often play a role in criminal convictions. RNPDC strives to mitigate these components with a holistic approach to criminal defense, helping clients chart a path forward that will protect their futures.


Defense that goes beyond criminality and dives into underlying causes changes everything. 


Since we opened our doors in 2007 our inception, communities, family members and clients have shared in the multi-generational impacts of our services. RNPDC has built a reputation on Anishinaabe values of trust, respect, honesty, truth, and dignity. 


We believe that embodying these values and inspiring others to walk in them will promote lasting change not only in our clients, but also our community and, ultimately, the legal justice system.

Culturally Responsive Criminal Defense

RNPDC’s criminal defense approach incorporates an indigenous worldview of justice through 4 key principles.

  1. Resolving Underlying Problems and Collateral Consequences: We base our practice on restorative and reparative principles. All contributing factors are examined, and the process promotes resolution of underlying issues. Clients use their own strengths to solve their own problems, restoring relationships, dignity, and self-worth in the process.

  2. Dynamic Communication: Our communication is fluid. Throughout our time working with clients, we focus on facilitating discussion in a way that prioritizes keeping relationships intact.

  3. Holistic Philosophy: We recognize that clients have a range of legal and nonlegal needs that will continue to push them back into the criminal justice system if left unresolved.

  4. Community: Our defense process is designed to include and engage family and community members in problem-solving and providing support. With a focus on community, this system strives to uphold peace, harmony, and balance within the community.

Our approach goes beyond the courtroom. Our approach extends beyond the courtroom. Our main goal is to help our relatives overcome the challenges that led them to this difficult situation. With culturally specific legal representation, independent from government or tribal influence, and centered on the individual's needs, RNDPC aims to restore our people to a place of dignity and wholeness.

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