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Criminal Defense that Knows Your Name

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 seeks a solution for the overrepresentation of Native people in the criminal justice system. With an indigenous worldview and deep roots in the community, we pursued a new kind of justice… one that brought attorneys and staff together as frontline advocates for victims of unjust systems designed to perpetuate intergenerational family separation, poverty, and racial discrimination.


Conventional systems were failing. 

Something needed to change.

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Providing Holistic Defense for Our Clients

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.

Restoring Our People Through Culturally Responsive Criminal Defense

RNPDC’s criminal defense program 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 inclusive and encourages family and community members to participate in problem solving and serve as resources. Communal rights are foremost in this system to maintain peace, harmony, and balance in the community.

Our approach goes beyond the courtroom. The primary objective is to extract our relatives from the issues that put them in this difficult place. Through legal representation that is culturally specific, independent from government or tribal influence, and uses a client centered advocacy approach, RNDPC serves to restore our people to a place of dignity and wholeness.

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