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ATLG welcomes tribal attorney Michelle LaPena | | |

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ATLG welcomes tribal attorney Michelle LaPena

Contact:  Academy of Tribal & Local GovernmentMichelle-LaPena.jpg

Academy of Tribal & Local Government proudly welcomes respected tribal attorney Michelle LaPena to its world-class faculty

A member of the Pit River Indian Tribe, Ms. LaPena is a recognized expert in tribal law, gaming regulation, tribal-state compacts and cultural resource protection

Long Beach, CA – Further enhancing the finest possible education and training experience for tribal governments throughout North America, the Academy of Tribal & Local Government proudly welcomed respected tribal attorney Michelle LaPena to its world-class faculty.

Ms. LaPena brings considerable experience in a wide range of tribal legal matters including tribal gaming operations and regulation, cultural resource protection, Indian child welfare, tribal taxation, administrative law and general civil litigation involving tribal governments.

In particular, she has been involved extensively in developing statewide policy on tribal taxation, gaming regulation and cultural resource protection. In 1999, she negotiated a tribal-state gaming compact with the State of California. Since that time, she has worked with gaming tribes to implement complex terms in their compacts, including licensing procedures for gaming resource suppliers, revenue sharing distribution to non-gaming tribes and public safety.

Prior to entering private practice, she edited and contributed significantly to reports that were submitted to Congress in August 1997 by the Advisory Council on California Indian Policy. She has served as a trainer for the National Indian Gaming Association Gaming Regulator Certificate Program and lectured at the primary, secondary and university levels on topics related to California Indians and federal Indian law.

In 2003, Ms. LaPena was appointed to the Governor’s Children’s Justice Act Task Force which allocates Title IV-E money to child abuse prevention programs in the state of California. She is a member of the Pit River Indian Tribe, and is admitted to practice in California, all federal district courts in California, and the Hoopa Valley Tribal Court. 

She received her B.A. in 1993 and her J.D. in 1998, both from the University of California, Davis.  She was recently featured on the cover of Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine.


“Michelle brings a tremendous amount of valued experience in Indian Country and will help strengthen the Academy’s growing reputation,” stated Deron Marquez, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Academy of Tribal & Local Government. “She has helped dozens of tribes resolve economic, social and cultural issues while aggressively protecting their precious tribal sovereignty.”

About the Academy of Tribal & Local Government

The Academy of Tribal & Local Government is a Native-owned and operated institute advancing productive relations between federally recognized tribal and local governments nationwide. Utilizing a renowned faculty with more than 200 years of real world and academic experience in Indian Country, the Academy develops customized education programs offering long-term solutions that serve the unique economic, social and cultural needs of these governments. The Academy also serves Indian Country through comprehensive online training for vendors and service providers nationwide through its Vendor Certification Program. For more information please visit our website at