Osburn sworn in as Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe judge
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Justice Ramona Applegate on Oct. 13 swears in Cherokee Nation citizen Richard D. Osburn as the tribe’s district judge in Onamia, Minnesota. COURTESY
Kristie Vance-Osburn puts a robe on her husband and Cherokee Nation citizen, Richard D. Osburn, who on Oct. 13 was sworn in as the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe district judge in Minnesota. COURTESY
Kristie Vance-Osburn stands with her husband, Richard D. Osburn, after he was sworn in as the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe district judge on Oct. 13 in Onamia, Minnesota. COURTESY
ONAMIA, Minn. – Cherokee Nation citizen Richard D. Osburn on Oct. 13 was sworn in as the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe district judge.
From November 2008 to August 2014, Osburn served as that band’s district judge – the only full-time trial level judge who hears all cases filed at the trial level, including child welfare/family cases, small claims, protective orders and criminal cases.
“Being nominated and confirmed by the Band Assembly of the Mille Lacs Band means that the elected officials have placed their trust in me to impartially and correctly hear and decide cases,” said Osburn, who is originally from the Briggs, Oklahoma. “It is a tremendous privilege to be appointed. The privilege comes with tremendous responsibility to competently discharge the duties of the district judge.”
Previously, Osburn worked for the CN’s attorney general’s office from 2000-07 before serving in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe solicitor general’s office from July 2007 to November 2008.
In May 2019, he was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to be a hearings/appeals officer for Courts of Indian Offenses. These courts are operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to serve tribes that do not have court systems. Osburn is assigned to the Miami, Oklahoma, agency on an as-needed basis.
He returned to Oklahoma to serve as an assistant district attorney in Muskogee County from February to May 2020. However, he was laid off due to COVID-19-related budget cuts and returned to Minnesota work as an unemployment law judge.
The district judge position for the Mille Lacs Band is a full-time position and hears cases of any type.
“In addition to cases filed originally in the district court, the court also hears appeals of workers’ compensation claims for Mille Lacs Band employees, appeals of gaming authority decisions and appeals from the internal body that decides whether an employee was properly terminated,” Osburn said. “Finally, the judge also participates in activities that will make the court run more efficiently such as planning for new facilities, planning for proper staffing and participating in the revision of current statutes or the creation of new statutes.”
The Mille Lacs Band is one of the six Ojibwe bands that make up the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The band’s headquarters in Onamia are approximately 90 miles north of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The son of Ruth and Morris Osburn, he is a 1986 graduate of Tahlequah High School and graduated from Oklahoma University in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree and earned a law degree from OU in 2000. While at OU, he was commissioned as an officer in the Navy through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps.
He served as a surface warfare officer on two naval destroyers and was honorably discharged.
He is married to Kristie Vance-Osburn, and together, they have four children.