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 Richard G. McGee; Eldena Bear Don’t Walk and Gregory D. Smith. 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 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 101 Things Everyone Should Know About Tribal Employment (Xlibris 2020), Drafting Tribal Employment Laws & Handbooks (Xlibris 2020), and A Guide to Tribal Employment (Xlibris 2008). In addition to his work as an attorney, Mr. McGee serves as a Justice of the Appeals Court for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.
Mr. McGee was Assistant General Counsel for the Prairie Island Indian Community. The Prairie Island Indian Community owns and operates Treasure Island Resort & Casino. 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 over a decade litigating business and employment cases as a lawyer at Arnold, Anderson & Dove in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mr. McGee is a graduate of the Oklahoma University Law School located in Norman, Oklahoma.
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 Gregory D. Smith is a lawyer from Clarksville, Tennessee. Besides serving on the Ponca Court of Appeals, Judge Smith serves on five Native American tribal appellate courts and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Court of Indian Appeals. Judge Smith also serves as a municipal court judge in Tennessee and he was selected as the Tennessee Municipal Judges Conference’s Outstanding Judge of 2017. He has extensive experience as an attorney in the area of appellate law (having presented over 500 appeals as an attorney). He is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell and listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers for his appellate practice. Judge Smith’s tribal court work was the focus feature in an article appearing in the ABA Journal in November 2019.
For more information on the Appellate Court, please contact
402-371-8834 or via email at