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SAULT STE. MARIE, MICHIGAN - The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, based in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan has hired John Wernet to be the new general counsel. Wernet, who is well known among Michigan's twelve federally recognized tribes, served Michigan's former Governor Jennifer M. Granholm as a deputy legal counsel.
"Over the past thirty years, despite being on the other side of the table, I have developed great respect for Michigan's tribal leaders and tribal attorneys - and made many good friends in the tribal community," commented Wernet to the Native News Network. "I am really looking forward to being able to work more closely with the tribal community, both at the Sault Tribe and the other great Michigan tribes. It feels a lot like coming home."
He will become the lead attorney for the Sault Tribe, the largest federally recognized Indian tribe east of the Mississippi with nearly 39,000 members, and its talented team of lawyers. He brings to the position many years of experience in Native American legal issues nationally and in Michigan.
"John Wernet is a superior attorney and a high quality person with distinguished credentials and a stellar reputation, and we are thrilled to have him as our new general counsel," said Lana Causley, vice chairwoman of the Sault Tribe Board of Directors.
Wernet earned his BA from the University of Michigan's Residential College in 1972 and his JD from Antioch School of Law in Washington DC in 1975. From 1975 through 1979 he was on the faculty of Antioch School of Law where he directed the law school's paralegal programs, including the National Indian Paralegal Training Program.
He returned to Michigan in 1979 to become an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Michigan and served as counsel to the Michigan Commission on Indian Affairs from 1980 through 1988, as First Assistant in the Indian Law Unit from 1992-1995, and as Assistant in Charge of the Native American Affairs Division from 1998 through 2003.
In 2003, he became Deputy Legal Counsel to Michigan Governor Granholm and served as the governor's advisor on tribal-state affairs. Wernet helped to negotiate the casino compacts that are in place between the State of Michigan and the Michigan tribes.
Wernet begins his position on June 13, 2011.
posted June 6, 2011 6:00 am et
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