Partner, Rothstein Donatelli LLP
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin School of Law in 1976 where he served as an Editor of the Wisconsin Law Review, Eric Dahlstrom moved to Chinle on the Navajo Nation where he practiced law with Chinle DNA-Peoples Legal Services and was admitted to the Navajo Nation Bar Association. While at DNA, he helped bring the first in-patient hospital to Chinle and the first Basha’s store on the Navajo Nation to the Tséyi’ Shopping Center while representing the Diné Cooperatives, Inc. He and his wife then moved to the Gila River Indian Community where he founded Four Rivers Indian Legal Services representing tribal members and several tribes in central Arizona and served for 8 years as its director. While at Four Rivers, Mr. Dahlstrom assisted the Cocopah Tribe pass federal land acquisition legislation nearly doubling the size of its reservation, and represented the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation in its successful effort to stop Orme Dam which would have inundated most of the reservation. He also represented Fort McDowell in establishing its first successful pre-IGRA high stakes bingo operation. Mr. Dahlstrom then returned to the Navajo Nation where he was confirmed by the Navajo Nation Council as Deputy Attorney General. As a result of extensive experience with the Navajo Nation, Eric Dahlstrom is frequently called upon to advise clients regarding the Navajo Nation government. In 1991, he joined Rothstein Donatelli as a partner and established the Firm’s Phoenix office (which later moved to its present location in Tempe).
Eric Dahlstrom was retained by the Forest County Potawatomi Community of Wisconsin in the early 1990s to handle litigation against the City of Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin aimed at enabling the tribe to open a class III gaming facility on land it had acquired near downtown Milwaukee, and that had been placed into trust status. The litigation, through an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, was completely successful, and led to Forest County Potawatomi having one of the most successful casinos in the nation.
In addition to the success in Wisconsin, the Firm was counsel in the litigation and court ordered mediation that lead to the 1993 landmark gaming compacts for Arizona tribes that have allowed massive increases in governmental revenue for all tribes in Arizona.
Mr. Dahlstrom was also lead counsel for the Navajo Nation in Peabody Coal Co. v. Navajo Nation, 860 F.Supp. 683 (D. Ariz. 1994), rev’d in part, 75 F.3d 457 (9th Cir. 1996)(challenge to Navajo Nation tax on coal mine); and Arizona Public Service Co. v. Aspaas, No.90-1808, 21I.L.R. 3003 (D. Ariz., 1993), 77 F.3d 1128 (9th Cir. 1995) (challenge to exercise of Navajo Nation governmental power over Four Corners Power Plant).
Mr. Dahlstrom practices almost exclusively in the field of Indian law. Mr. Dahlstrom is admitted to practice in Arizona, Wisconsin, and the Navajo Nation and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native American Bar Association of Arizona.
Over the past 30 years, Mr. Dahlstrom has developed an extensive Indian gaming practice in Arizona and Wisconsin where he has led the legal effort to establish and expand the sovereign authority of tribal governments to operate and regulate gaming enterprises.
Mr. Dahlstrom was appointed as Special Prosecutor by the Special Division of the Window Rock District Court in 2011. Thereafter, the Rothstein Donatelli team successfully pursued criminal and ethics violations against 27 members of the Navajo Nation Council and two staff of the Office of Legislative Services.
Over the past decade, Mr. Dahlstrom has also developed a substantial tribal health law practice. He advises clients and leads the Firm’s health law practice group providing a full range of legal services tailored to the needs of tribal healthcare entities, including advice on compliance with federal and state Medicaid and Indian Health Service contract and regulatory requirements, employment issues unique to healthcare employers, including drafting health professional contracts, board governance, healthcare records, technology and required privacy protocols, and drafting healthcare provider protocols and manuals. Finally, the Firm’s healthcare practice group regularly represents healthcare providers in state and tribal proceedings regarding the custody of mental health patients.