Decisions made by the Trial Court are not subject to review by the Tribal Council, but may be appealed to the Ponca Appellate Court. The Ponca Appellate Court is comprised of three independent Justices who have been appointed by the Tribal Council. These three are: Chief Justice Mary Jo Hunter; Eldena Bear Don’t Walk and Richard McGee. These three Justices are only called in to decide a case once it has been appealed from a specific Order of the Tribal Court.
The Appellate Rules of Procedure are found in the Law and Order Code.
Chief Justice Mary Jo Hunter is an enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, formerly known as the Wisconsin Winnebago Nation. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Journalism degree in 1978 and she obtained her law degree from the UCLA School of Law in 1982. She is a Clinical Professor of the Child Advocacy Clinic for Hamline University School of Law.
Prof. Hunter was elected as the first Chief Justice of the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court in July 1995. She was re-elected in 2002, 2007, and also in 2013, and she continues to preside over that court. Currently, she is also serving as an Associate Justice for the Supreme Court of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. In the past, Justice Hunter has also served as an Associate Justice for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Tribal Appellate Court and as the Chief Justice of the Prairie Island Indian Community’s Appeals Court. Prof. Hunter has also conducted workshops and training on the Indian Child Welfare Act and Cultural Issues of American Indians.
Prof. Hunter has worked for the Neighborhood Justice Center and Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services in St. Paul. From 1989 until November of 1993, she was employed with the University of North Dakota School of Law where she taught Indian Law and directed the Native American Law Project clinical program. In November 1993, she returned to St. Paul, Minnesota. In her present capacity, she serves as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) for Indian children who are subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act and represents other GALs in cases involving ICWA. In addition, Prof. Hunter teaches the Native American Law seminar course for Hamline University Law School.
Prof. Hunter has served as the Chair of the St. Paul Indian Education Parent Committee and as a member of the State of Minnesota Indian Child Welfare Advisory Council as an Urban Representative for the Indian community in St. Paul. Previously, she served on the Board of Directors for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association (MAIBA).
She has two adult children and ten grandchildren and one great granddaughter.
Judge Eldena N. Bear Don’t Walk is a member of the Crow Nation and a descendant of the Salish, Turtle Mountain and Little Shell people. She has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology, a Masters in Public Administration and a Juris Doctorate all from the University of Montana. Eldena recently completed a Legal Masters (LLM) focusing on Indigenous People’s Law and Policy at the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law. She is a member of the State Bar of Montana and currently, serves as Chair of the Indian Law Section.
She is the Chief Justice of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Appellate Court. Eldena also sits as an Associate Appellate Justice for the Chippewa Cree Tribe. She was the first female Chief Justice of the Crow Tribe. Eldena has sat pro tem as an administrative law judge for the Fort Belknap Indian Community and as an appellate justice and constitutional court justice for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.
Eldena has taught Tribal Courts/Tribal Law at the University of Montana School of Law. She has presented numerous workshops on the Indian Child Welfare Act, Tribal Courts, judicial ethics and the development of tribal codes. Eldena worked as a public defender for the State of Montana before opening her private practice in St. Ignatius, MT. Her practice includes both civil and criminal law as well as consultation in non-profit development.
Judge Richard G. McGee is the principal attorney at the Law Office of Richard G. McGee, LLC in Plymouth, Minnesota. Mr. McGee works with tribal employers on the full range of employment related issues. Mr. McGee assists tribes with drafting employee handbooks, promulgating employment codes, performing employee investigations, representing tribes in court, and consulting on employment decisions. As part of his work with tribal employers he wrote “A Guide to Tribal Employment” (Xlibris 2008).
Mr. McGee was Assistant General Counsel for the Prairie Island Indian Community. The Prairie Island Indian Community owns and operates Treasure Island Resort & Casino, which employs more than 2,000 employees. Both the Prairie Island Indian Community and Treasure Island Resort & Casino are located in southeast Minnesota.
Before joining the Prairie Island Indian Community, Mr. McGee spent a decade litigating business and employment cases as a lawyer at Arnold, Anderson & Dove in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Those experiences were concentrated in the Midwest, and he also litigated cases on both coasts, as well as cases in southern Texas. Mr. McGee is a graduate of the Oklahoma University Law School located in Norman, Oklahoma.
For more information on the Appellate Court, please contact
402-371-8834 or via email at