Justice Anne MeKeig Becomes First Female American Indian to Serve on Any State’s Highest Court

Justice Anne becomes first female American Indian to ever serve on any state's highest court.

Justice Anne K. McKeig becomes first female American Indian to ever serve on any state’s highest court.

Published September 17, 2016

SAINT PAUL—The first American Indian associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court was sworn in on Thursday, September, 15, 2016. The Honorable Anne K. McKeig was sworn in as the 94th Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Justice McKeig was raised in Federal Dam, Minnesota, which borders the Leech Lake Ojibwe Reservation. She is a descendant of the White Earth Ojibwe, and is the first American Indian to serve on Minnesota’s highest court. She is also the first female American Indian in the country to serve on any state’s highest court.

White Earth Nation Chairman Terrence "Terry" Tibbetts and Justice Anne K. McKeig

White Earth Nation Chairman Terrence “Terry” Tibbetts and Justice Anne K. McKeig

Justice McKeig was presented at the ceremony by Governor Mark Dayton, who appointed Justice McKeig to the Supreme Court in June to replace retiring Associate Justice Christopher J. Dietzen.

Speaking on behalf of Justice McKeig at the investiture ceremony were the Honorable Robert A. Blaeser, Chief Judge of the White Earth Tribal Court; Noya Woodrich, Former President and CEO of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches; and Brittney Miller, a former law clerk of Justice McKeig, who is now an attorney at Moss & Barnett.

The event featured a drum circle performance by students from the Northland Eagles Drum Group from Northland High School in Remer, Justice McKeig’s former high school. The White Earth Color Guard posted the colors for the event.

In her remarks, Justice McKeig spoke to the historic significance of her appointment:

“To Governor Dayton- Chi Miigwetch for having faith in a young woman from Federal Dam, born, raised and Minnesota educated. You have made history in allowing me to be the first Native American woman appointed to the State’s highest Court – in all of the United States.  I am prepared with the love and support of my community to demonstrate that your decision was one of great vision and wisdom not because you chose me but because you appreciate the role that native nations have played in the history of our great state.  By this appointment you have built an historic bridge.”

Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice McKeig served as a district court judge in the Fourth Judicial District, and was the presiding judge in the Fourth District’s Family Court. She was appointed to the bench in 2008 by Governor Tim Pawlenty. She previously worked as an assistant Hennepin County attorney in the Child Protection Division for over 16 years, where she specialized in Indian Child Welfare cases.

Justice McKeig is currently an adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, a trainer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, past chair and current board member of the Board of the Division of Indian Work, and a member of the Speakers Bureau for the National Child Protection Training Center. She is also a frequent speaker at many local and national conferences on the issue of Indian Child Welfare, and is a descendant of White Earth Nation.

Justice McKeig earned her B.S. from St. Catherine University and her J.D. from Hamline University School of Law.

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