Just Released: Tribal-State Court Forums Policy Brief . (2016). This brief summarizes Tribal-State Court Forums and includes a chart that provides an overview of key features of forums, such as membership attributes, information about authorizing documents and key accomplishments. (This publicaiton was authored by TLPI for the National Criminal Justice Association.)
Tribal-State Court Forums: An Annotated Directory (2016). This directory includes a detailed listing of the 10 currently operational Tribal -State Court forums around the nation. These forums provide unique collaboration opportunities across jurisdictions and have led to such positive outcomes as: agreements on the transfer of jurisdiction, Indian Child Welfare Act education, tribal court directories, legislation on the enforcement of tribal court orders, judicial relationship building, and many more. Information on each forum includes: membership; funding; structure; organization; key accomplishments and authorizing documentation.
Joint Jurisdiction Courts: A Manual for Developing Tribal, Local, State & Federal Justice Collaborations (May 2016), Jennifer Fahey, JD, MPH, Hon. Korey Wahwassuck, Alison Leof, PhD, Hon. John Smith, Project T.E.A.M., Center for Evidence-Based Policy, Oregon Health & Science University. This manual is a roadmap for tribal and community leaders who want to develop joint jurisdiction courts or initiatives in their own communities. It is intended to be a guide, articulating the process developed in one Minnesota community and adopted by other jurisdictions, as well as providing information on creating new joint jurisdiction initiatives. This manual includes references to supplementary materials which may assist tribes and their partners in establishing and managing joint jurisdiction courts.
Tribal-State Court Collaborations Working Group Report (2013). The Tribal Law and Policy Institute hosted a working group session in December of 2012 to discuss tribal-state court collaborations and the successes and challenges that these partnerships currently face. TLPI drafted a report to the Bureau of Justice Assistance with findings and recommendations. The recommendations extend beyond simply the T/TA needed and provide insights into strategies that could be utilized by governments, agencies, and organizations to support tribal and state court collaborations and the resolutions of challenges faced.
State-Tribal Relations Project: The National Conference of State Legislatures(NCSL), in partnership with the National Congress of American Indians, is involved in a State-Tribal Relations Projectthat will address several specific, substantive issues between states and tribes. Both organizations believe in the importance of educating states and tribes on the processes that promote cooperation in problem-solving. This joint project hopes to promote state-tribal interaction as a necessity of state policymaking and to show how cooperation and collaboration can achieve the results that advance mutual objectives. The project also maintains a Listing of State Committees and Commissions on Indian Affairs.
NCAI Tribal-State Relationships (2010) Reccommendations emerging from the White House Tribal Nations Summit, 2010.
Walking on Common Ground Reports
Click on the Background page for a detailed history of Walking on Common Ground.
Pathways to Equal Justice (2005).
Resolution 27: To Continue the Improved Operating Relations Among Tribal, State, and Federal Judicial Systems (2002). In August 2002, the Tribal Relations Committee of the Conference of Chief Justices adopted this resolution which was intended to endorse continued efforts to Build on Common Ground, including the endorsement of the following three principles: First, tribal state, and federal courts should continue cooperative efforts to enhance relations and resolve jurisdictional issues. Second, Congress should provide resources to tribal courts consistent with their current and increasing responsibilities. Third, tribal, state, and federal authorities should take steps to include cross-recognition of judgments, final orders, laws, and public acts of the three jurisdictions
Building on Common Ground: A National Agenda to Reduce Jurisdictional Disputes Between Tribal, State, and Federal Courts (1993) is the formal report and recommendations from a national leadership conference held in Santa Fe, New Mexico in September 1993 in which tribal, state, and federal leaders from throughout the United States met to develop a national agenda for improvement of working relationships between tribal, state, and federal judicial systems.
1993 Building on Common Ground Document (1993) A Leadership Conference to Develop A National Agenda to Reduce Jurisdictional Disputes Between Tribal, State, and Federal Courts.
Held January 31, 2014. This training focused on the provisions of the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) that allow tribes, under Public Law 280 jurisdiction, to request the federal government re-assume certain criminal jurisdiction on the tribe’s reservation. The morning session included information on Public Law 280 and the TLOA followed by an afternoon presentation by tribal representatives from the White Earth Nation, the only tribe whose request has been granted for federal re-assumption of jurisdiction under Section 221 of the TLOA.
Held on July 25, 2013. This webinar highlighted three programs that blend native and state justice on innovative ways to improve state and tribal justice. Staff of the Center for Court Innovation’s peacemaking pilot program at the Red Hook Community Justice Center discussed how traditional Native American practices are used to resolve disputes that originate in either the justice system or in the community. Peacemaking is a traditional Native American approach to justice that strives to resolve the immediate dispute, but also to heal the relationships among those involved and restore balance to the community. In the second program, Justice officials from the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in Akwesasne, New York discussed how The Healing to Wellness/Drug Court, housed under the Tribal Court, uses cultural traditions to restore and heal justice involved tribal members in collaboration with neighboring Courts. Lastly, representatives from the New Mexico Tribal–State Judicial Consortium and Cross Cultural Exchanges discussed how the Consortium contributes to collaboration among state and tribal courts. View the webinar. View the webinar slides.
Held June 25, 2013. It is important for tribal law-enforcement agencies and courts to have access to vital criminal justice information that can be used to protect their citizens and individuals residing in Indian Country. Tribes’ ability to access and manipulate this information allows tribal law enforcement to protect not only those within their borders, but members who live beyond the tribe’s external boundaries. In this webinar, we discussed tribal access to federal databases maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS). These critical national databases include the National Crime Information Center, Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, and National Instant Criminal Background Check System. We will focus on the barriers that tribes face in gaining access to national databases and what steps tribes can take to help overcome these challenges. Presenting at this webinar were Kirk Flerchinger, Sex Offender Registry Officer for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR); Kimberly K. Lough, Management and Program Analyst in the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and, Chris Chaney, an enrolled member of the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma and Unit Chief for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Office of the General Counsel, Access Integrity Unit (AIU). View the webinar. View the webinar slides.
Held on June 11, 2013. While this is the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark case that secured the right to government paid counsel in state criminal proceedings, many state, local and tribal justice officials are unaware that the right to free defense council does not apply in Indian Country. The 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) and the 2013 Reauthorization of the Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA) include provisions that affect not only tribal courts in general, but the indigent defender community specifically. Defender Initiatives in Indian Country will discuss how recent legislation has affected tribal courts and the tribal defender community and will examine how two tribal defender initiatives are enhancing the provision of justice and improving perceptions of procedural fairness. This webinar will highlight the work of the Defenders Office of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana and the work of Anishinabe Legal Services, an Indian Legal Services program that serves the Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake Reservations in Northern Minnesota. In addition, this webinar will discuss state and federal resources available to support indigent defense in tribal courts. Presenters for this webinar are Ann Sherwood, managing attorney with the Defenders Office of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai; Cody Nelson, co-executive director, Anishinabe Legal Services, Maha Jweied, senior counsel, Access to Justice Initiative within the US Department of Justice and Alex Sierck, project director, Center for Holistic Defense, a project of The Bronx Defenders. View the webinar. View the webinar slides.
Held March 26, 2013. This webinar, hosted by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) with support by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) focused on tribal-state public safety agreements. These agreements include memoranda of understanding, cross-deputization agreements, and mutual-aid agreements. The discussion focused on the importance of tribes, states, and localities working together on public safety issues; addressed obstacles to cooperation; and highlighted best practices the Navajo Nation has used in forging these agreements in multiple states. View the webinar. View the webinar slides.
View supporting materials:
- Law Enforcement Agreement Between the Navajo Nation and the Arizona Department of Public Safety
- Mutual Aid Agreement Between the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
- Intergovernmental Agreement LEVEL B: The AZ Counter Terrorism Information Center and The Navaho Nation
- Intergovernmental Agreement LEVEL C: The AZ Counter Terrorism Information Center and The Tribal Nation for Statewide Terrorism Liaison Officer Program
Tribal-State-Federal Collaboration Articles/Monographs
Tribal-State Relations: Michigan as a Case Study (2009) by Matthew Fletcher, Alicia Ivory, Adrea Korthase, Sheena Oxendine. Michigan State University conducted a study of what became an oral history of modern Michigan tribal-state relations under a contract with the National Congress of American Indians. Students interviewed many of the major players in Michigan tribal-state relations from the 2000s and before.
The Commission on State-Tribal Relations: Enduring Lessons in the Modern State-Tribal Relationship (2012) by Tassie Hanna, Sam Deloria, and Charles E. Trimble. This article, written by the founders of the Commission on State-Tribal Relations, traces the historical development of a new approach to state-tribal relations in the 1970’s, during a time of heightened tension between state and tribal governments.
Waves of Education: Tribal-State Court Cooperation and the Indian Child Welfare Act (2012) by Kathryn Fort. Published in the Tulsa Law Review, this article focuses on the relationship and agreements between tribal and state judicial systems in Michigan. In tracing that work, the article demonstrates the cyclical nature of tribal-state court relations, and the way the welfare of Indian children binds together tribal and state judicial systems, regardless of either side’s participation.
State and Tribal Courts: Strategies for Bridging the Divide (2011) is a publication from the Center for Court Innovation that provides a history and examples of specific initatives, experiments and collaborations between tribal and state courts.
Culture Card: A Guide to Build Cultural Awareness: American Indian and Alaska Native (2010) was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This helpful and user friendly guide for is meant for non-Native service providers working in Indian country. SAMHSA’s “Culture Card: A Guide to Build Cultural Awareness: American Indian and Alaska Native”offers a basic orientation to American Indian and Alaska Native culture in the form of a publication the size of a playing card that folds out like a map. The card is meant to be a starting place for information, and should be followed by seeking out someone who can orient you to the specifics of the particular tribe or community you are working with. To download the publication or order free copies, go to: http://www.samhsa.gov/samhsanewsletter/volume_17_number_2/americanindianculture.aspx
Consultation with Indian Nations (2001) by American Indian Development Associates highlights successful strategies that define the unique government-to-government relationship that exists between the Indian nations and the U.S. government.
Improving the Relationship Between Indian Nations, the Federal Government, and State Governments (2000), by Jerry Gardner. In order to effectively address criminal justice issues in Indian country and services for victims of crime in Indian country, it is vital that productive efforts are made to improve the relationship between Indian Nations, the federal government, and state governments. The first step required in any effort to improve these relationships is an understanding and recognition of the unique sovereign status of Indian Nations. Second, contemporary problems in the relationship between these governments should be examined. Third, recent examples of efforts to improve the relationship between these governments should be reviewed. Then, the potential use of written cooperative agreements – such as Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) – to improve the relationship between these governments should be examined. Finally, practical tips for developing and implementing written cooperative agreements should be reviewed.
Concurrent Tribal And State Jurisdiction Under Public Law 280 (1998), by Vanessa J. Jiménez and Soo C. Song
Every nation’s survival and self-governance hinges on its ability to maintain law and order and secure “comfortable, safe, and peaceable living” among its citizens. Indian nations are no different. Tribal governments need to maintain an adequate measure of justice and peace among their members if they are to survive and develop as viable entities. Tribal justice systems, including tribal courts and law enforcement, are essential institutions of tribal self-government. Currently, many tribal justice systems—widely varied in their relative sophistication and form—find themselves at a pivotal point in their development. Although increasing in number and prominence, uneven political, legal, and financial support impedes the ability of many tribal justice systems to function in full parity with state and federal systems …
Resolving State – Tribal Jurisdictional Dilemmas (1995), by Stanley G. Feldman and David L. Withey
As a project of the Conference of Chief Justices is demonstrating, it is possible through communication and cooperation to minimize jurisdictional problems between state and tribal courts.
Multiple Sovereignties: Indian Tribes, States, and the Federal Government (1995), by Judith Resnik
Although often unrecognized, three entities within the territory that constitutes the United States – Indian tribes, states, and the federal government – have forms of sovereignty. The rich and complex relationships among these three sovereignties need to become integrated into the discussion and law of federalism.
Morisset, Schlosser, Ayer, & Jozwiakhas a series of papers on Indian Law, including Enforcing Tribal Court Judgments in State Court: Three Perspectives (1994), by Kyme Allison McGaw (September 1994).
Publications for Purchase
The Other Movement: Indian Rights and Civil Rights in the Deep South (2012), Denise E. Bates, University of Alabama Press.
Negotiated Sovereignty: Working to Improve Tribal-State Relations (2004), Jeffrey S. Ashley and Secody J. Hubbard, Praeger Press, CT.
Government to Government: Models of Cooperative between States and Tribes (2002), National Conference on State Legislatures.
Government to Government: Understanding State and Tribal Governments (2000), National Conference on State Legislatures and National Congress of American Indians.