Respondents’ Legal Counsel – Tribal Family Healing to Wellness Court

Court of Central Jurisdiction


OWNER: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
43408 Oodena Drive
Onamia, MN 56539

DATE ISSUED: July 22, 2022

PROPOSAL DUE DATE: August 26, 2022
(by 5:00 p.m. CST)

(if necessary)
August 30, 2022-September 2, 2022

Respondents’ Legal Counsel – Tribal Family Healing to Wellness Court

TO: Qualified Attorneys


A. Purpose. This request for proposals (RFP) is to contract for legal services to represent indi-viduals seeking to participate in or admitted to the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Ojib-we’s Family Healing to Wellness Court (“FHWTC”), Noojimo’wiigamig Inaawanidiwag (Healing Journey). The Band, a federally recognized Indian tribe, is headquartered at the Mille Lacs Band Tribal Government Center located at 43408 Oodena Drive, Onamia, MN 56539. This contract will be paid from Grant Number # 2020-AC-BX-0028, from the U.S. Depart-ment of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance. The period for the contract is October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2025.

B. Description of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (“Band”), a constituent of the federally recognized Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, has 4,754 enrolled members and is located in northeast central Minnesota. Its reservation is dis-persed over 160 non-contiguous rural miles and overlaps Aitkin, Mille Lacs, and Pine Coun-ties. These non-adjacent lands are scattered in a checkerboard nature and comprise a total of 50 square miles. The Mille Lacs Band’s reservation includes three distinct rural districts. District I and IIa are located within Mille Lacs County with District I on the southwest shore of Lake Mille Lacs near Onamia, MN, and District IIa on the southeast shore near Isle, MN. District II is located within Aitkin County near McGregor, MN. District III is located within Pine County and 30 miles east of Hinckley, MN. The Band also maintains an Urban Office serving Band members living in the Twin Cities area.

C. Description of the Mille Lacs Band Court of Central Jurisdiction, Healing to Wellness Court. A sovereign nation with the authority to govern its people and land, the Mille Lacs Band regulates itself by utilizing a separation of powers divided into the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches. The Band’s Judicial Branch is established as the Court of Central Juris-diction, which includes the trial-level District Court and the appellate-level Court of Appeals. A court of general jurisdiction, the District Court exercises adjudicatory authority over a wide range of civil and criminal matters arising on tribal land. The largest percentage of civil cases heard by the Band’s District Court are those involving child abuse and neglect, Children in Need of Protection or Services (“CHIPS”). In recent years due in large measure to the nation-wide raging opioid epidemic, the number of CHIPS cases being filed in the District Court has risen dramatically. In 2022, the Band enacted Title 5, Chapter 4 of the Mille Lacs Band Statutes establishing a Tribal Family Healing to Wellness Court. (Found here: https://millelacsband.com/government/tribal-register/constitution-and-band-statutes/title-5-judicial-branch.)


The Mille Lacs Band Family Healing to Wellness Court Program (“FHTWC”), Noojimo’wiigamig Inaawanidiwag (“Healing Journey”), uses a culturally grounded, collaborative team approach to assist par-ents, guardians, and custodians whose children are the subject of CHIPS proceedings as a result of paren-tal/custodial substance use. The primary goals of the program are to (1) assist the parents, guardians, and/or custodians recover from substance use disorder, (2) decrease the amount of time children spend in out-of-home care, and (3) expedite family reunification. The FHTWC will provide coordinated direct ser-vices to the children and their parents, guardians, or custodians.

The parent, guardian, or custodian of a child who is either a Band member, eligible for Band membership, or a descendant of a Band member, who is named as a respondent in a CHIPS petition, and who is diag-nosed with substance use disorder is eligible to participate in the Healing Journey (subject to certain re-strictions). The benefits to the caregiver are that they will be able to more effectively address their sub-stance use, avoid adjudication in the CHIPS matter, and be reunified with their children more quickly with reduced prospects of future removals. To ensure the protection of caregiver due process rights, the Band is providing indigent individuals applying for and participating in the FHTWC with court-appointed legal counsel.


To be considered qualified for consideration for an award, the Offeror must meet the following criteria:
A. Is admitted to practice or willing to apply for admission to practice before the Mille Lacs Band Court of Central Jurisdiction.
B. Is in good standing in all bars to which Offeror is admitted to practice.
C. Has demonstrated knowledge and litigation experience in the practice of child protection/welfare law—preferably has been involved in Child In Need of Protection or Services (CHIPS) cases before the Mille Lacs Band District Court, other tribal courts located in the State of Minnesota, or the State of Minnesota District Courts.
D. Possesses knowledge of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.
E. Possesses familiarity with and affinity for the philosophy and operation of Tribal Healing to Well-ness Courts or Family or Adult Treatment (Drug) Courts.
F. Can give the assurance that the Offeror has no conflict of interest arising from the representation of former or current clients that would bar Offeror’s representation of future FHTWC applicants and participants.


The project period for which legal services are needed is October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2025. By writ-ten agreement of the Mille Lacs Band and the attorney, the period may be extended.


It is anticipated that the Noojimo’wiigamig Inaawanidiwag program will admit five (5) participants in its inaugural year, up to eight (8) in its second year of operation, and up to ten (10) participants in its third year. Mille Lacs Band members who required representation in CHIPS matters are eligible to receive legal services from the Mille Lacs Band Legal Aid (BMLA) office. Non-Band member parents, guardians, or custodians however are ineligible for BMLA services; thus, this contract is to provide that representation. It is estimated that about 40% of the caregivers applying for the FHTWC will be non-Band members. Over the course of the three years, the contracted attorney will be appointed to represent approximately nine (9) individuals.

It is anticipated that a majority of the services may be provided via remote electronic means. On occasion, when a hearing or staffing necessitates it, the Offeror may be required to appear in person at the Mille Lacs Band Court Facility. The Offeror shall be readily available to perform the below-listed services pursuant to an Order Appointing Counsel by the Mille Lacs Band District Court:

A. Inform prospective applicants to the Healing Journey Program of its benefits and requirements and assist the applicant to file the Petition for Admission in the District Court.
B. Once the caregiver is admitted to the program, participate on the FHTWC Team as necessary by at-tending the periodic staffing of participant cases (video or teleconferencing may be possible).
C. Represent the participants in status hearings, and by filing motions and other pleadings as the par-ticipants’ representation necessitates.
D. If a participant is non-compliant with the program requirements and the team recommends that a consequence (sanction) be imposed or that the participant be terminated from the program, repre-sent the participant in responding to those recommendations.
E. Provide input to refine and improve the operation and effectiveness of the FHTWC.
F. Attend periodic trainings to learn about emerging legal issues and promising practices for Tribal Family Healing to Wellness Courts if Band or other funding is available.


The successful contractor must be prepared to submit monthly detailed billing statements for all services utilizing an hourly rate, broken down into time increments of tenths of an hour.


A proposal must include the required documents below and should provide the requested information with sufficient detail to facilitate evaluation by reviewers. The proposal shall include, as a minimum, the follow-ing:

A. Cover Page. A cover page, including the Request for Proposal Title, due date, name, mailing ad-dress, telephone number, fax number, and email address of the submitting person.
B. Criteria Satisfaction. A statement of how the Offeror meets the “Contractor Criteria” set forth in Section III above. Provide the name, bar number(s)(if any), and resume of the consultant-attorney that will perform the Scope of Work.
C. Indian Certified Entity Statement. A statement regarding whether the proposal is submitted on behalf of an Indian Certified Entity and entitled to preference according to 18 MLBS § 413. An In-dian Certified Entity is defined as an entity certified as having at least fifty-one percent (51%) or more of the ownership interests are held by one or more Indians and in which daily management and control is provided by one or more Indians. “Indian” means a member of a federally recog-nized Indian tribe. If the business is asserting that it is an Indian-owned business, it must submit for and receive certification as an Indian Certified Entity by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribal Employment Rights Office (“TERO”). The TERO may be contacted at (320) 532-4778. The certi-fication or a copy of the submitted application for certification must be included with the proposal.
D. Cost. Offeror must provide a budget that shows the means by which the total contract amount is calculated, including the work to be performed, number of hours, and hourly rate employed.
E. References. Names, addresses, contact persons, email addresses, and telephone numbers of at least two individuals, unrelated to the Offeror, who can be contacted as references.
F. Conflict of Interest Statement. The Offeror must disclose any potential conflict of interest that might arise if selected for the award of the contract with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe or the Mille Lacs Band Court of Central Jurisdiction. If no potential conflict of interest is known to exist, Offeror shall certify that fact. A description of Offeror’s system for checking for and addressing potential future conflicts of interest must also be detailed.
G. Writing Sample. A brief writing sample demonstrating Offeror’s advocacy abilities, such as a motion or brief, must be provided. Any identifying information should be redacted from the sub-mitted document.


Proposals are due on or before August 26, 2022, by 5:00 p.m. (Central) and must be emailed to: Gilda.Burr@millelacsband.com or mailed and addressed as follows:

Mille Lacs Band Court of Central Jurisdiction
ATTN: Gilda Burr, Court Administrator
43408 Oodena Drive
Onamia, MN 56539

Proposals submitted in an untimely manner will be rejected.


The Mille Lacs Band Court of Central Jurisdiction will perform the evaluation of proposals. This process will begin on August 29, 2022. During the evaluation period, the RFP Manager may initiate discussions with the Offerors who submit proposals for the purpose of clarification, but proposals may be accepted and evaluated without such discussions.


The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reserves the right to reject any and all proposals received in response to this RFP. A contract for the accepted proposal will be drafted based upon the factors described in this RFP and in accordance with the Band’s procurement policies and the requirements governing U.S. Department of Justice grants as set forth in 2 C.F.R. Part 200 and other applicable law. Selection is also dependent on the negotiation of a mutually acceptable contract between the Offeror and the Band.


A selection of a successful proposal will be made within fourteen (14) business days of the closing date for the submission of proposals. Upon entering into a contract with the successful Offeror, all other offe-rors will be informed in writing that a contract has been fully executed.


Inquiries concerning this Request for Proposals may be made via email to Gilda Burr, Court Administrator and RFP Manager at gilda.burr@millelacsband.com or by calling (320) 532-7401