GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the first time in Michigan’s history, a tribal citizen will serve on the state’s Court of Appeals.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed Judge Allie Greenleaf Maldonado to the role. Maldonado will serve a partial term left by Judge Amy Ronayne Krause who will retire effective Dec. 13, 2022.

Maldonado currently serves as the Chief Judge of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Trial Court. She earned her law degree from the University of Michigan and was the 15th tribal citizen to enter the honors program at the U.S. Department of Justice, becoming a litigator in the Indian Resources Section of the DOJ’s Environment & Natural Resources Division. Maldonado has also worked as a general counsel for the LTBB and a pro tem judge for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Whitmer made the announcement days after attending a tribal summit last week in Sault Ste. Marie, affirming the state’s commitment to a strong relationship with Michigan’s federally recognized tribes.

“The State of Michigan and sovereign tribal nations must continue working together on our shared priorities and maintain an open, productive dialogue to get things done on the kitchen-table issues,” Whitmer said in a release. “I am committed to working alongside tribal leaders to make a real difference in people’s lives and continue growing our economies. Our fortunes are linked, and we must collaborate to move our nations forward.”

Maldonado said she is humbled and honored by the appointment.

“I look forward to taking all of my professional experience and diligently applying it to the work ahead of me,” she said in a statement. “This is a moment of importance not just for me, but for all of Indian Country as the Governor’s wisdom in this appointment sends a message about the critical importance of the work of tribal courts. I am grateful to the Governor and her team, and I look forward to giving all of Michigan my best.”

Maldonado’s term will start on Jan. 9, 2023, and expire on Jan. 1, 2025. If she wishes to fulfill Krause’s full term through 2026, she will need to run for re-election in November 2024.