2023 Howard B. Eisenberg Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
David Raasch is an enrolled member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians and was born and raised on the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation in Shawano County. He attended public school in Bowler, just off the reservation. He grew up before the economic development that Tribes enjoy today. After graduating high school and attending some college, he moved off the reservation and worked at various jobs. In 1970, out of curiosity, he took a civil service exam for a law enforcement position with the Shawano Co Sheriff’s Dept and was hired as a sheriff’s deputy at the age of 22. This began an over 50-year association with the justice system. After about six years as an officer, he moved to Green Bay and became the Clerk of the Green Bay Municipal Court. During his 20 years with the Municipal Court, he was appointed by the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Council as the Chief Judge of the Tribal Court. This was a part-time position, and the first duties were to create a court for the Tribe. It was a complex job requiring code development, rules, procedures, forms, and training. When the court began operation, it opened his eyes to the need for affordable legal advocacy for those appearing in Tribal Court. It also began his search for an alternative to the divisive and punitive approaches of the adversarial system.
Indigenous Peacemaking became his focus. For most of his thirteen years on the bench, his main interest was to find ways for people to reconcile their conflicts peacefully and for sentences to have a healing aspect to them. Even though he is now retired, his passion remains in the areas of Peacemaking, and he continues to provide training and serve in an advisory capacity for groups or agencies interested in Peacemaking.
Currently, he is the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in West Hollywood, CA, and Board Chairman for Judicare Legal Aid located in Wisconsin. He serves in an advisory role for the National Native Center of Excellence headquartered in Illinois and the Restorative Approaches to Intimate Violence project in Colorado. An alumnus of The National Judicial College, he has served on the faculty of The National Tribal Judicial Center at NJC and continues to serve in an advisory capacity at the center. He also is a past president of the Wisconsin Tribal Judges’ Association. Over the years, he has assisted in the production of Tribal Nations: The Story of Federal Indian Law, which is a 60-minute documentary, and was selected to serve on the Tribal Law and Order Act Advisory Committee. Today, he continues to work as an independent consultant but mostly loves to brag about his three wonderful children, six fantastic grandchildren, and his beautiful wife, who has put up with him for 43 years.
Photo Credit: Carole Raasch