Photo of Marlee Torrance

Marlee Torrence

  • Hosted by Indian Child Welfare Act Law Center
  • Sponsored by Dorsey & Whitney LLP, U.S. Bank
  • Service location Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Law school Mitchell Hamline School of Law
  • Issue area Indigenous Peoples' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Marlee provides legal advocacy and outreach services to American Indian mothers who struggle with opiate addiction and who are involved with the child protection system.

American Indian children have higher rates of disparity and disproportionality than any other race. Indian parents failing to comply with court-ordered case plans through the county lose their children an average of twice a week in Minnesota. American Indians in Minnesota die of opiate related overdoses at rates of up to five times higher than any other race.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past year, Marlee has:

  • Provided direct representation and supportive services to 15 clients
  • Ensured clients were equipped with needed support and culturally appropriate services
  • Joined the Urban Indian Opiate Response Committee to address the opioid epidemic and raised awareness for Traditional Healing Ceremonies in Twin Cities
  • Presented at the Minnesota Indigenous Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition Annual Conference and Stand Against Child Abuse Conference
  • Created and participated in a parent-child protection education training for American Indian families
  • Developed and soft launched the first pro bono legal clinic for American Indian families to address housing issues

Next Steps

In the next six months, Marlee plans to:

  • Collaborate with US Bank and Dorsey & Whitney LLP to launch an ongoing pro bono legal clinic for American Indian families
  • Create a directory of culturally-appropriate resources that are currently available to urban American Indian families
  • Educate other agencies and service providers about the gaps and barriers clients face in accessing resources
  • Implement a support group for American Indian mothers who struggle with opiate addiction


Advocating for American Indian Mothers in Minnesota: The Equal Justice Works Fellowship

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