Tribal access to justice Innovation

Learn more about Tribal Justice

Alternatives to Incarceration

Learn how tribes are using alternatives to incarceration such as probation, supervised treatment, community service, cultural education programs, and other approaches, to divert cases away from the justice system and reduce recidivism.

Child Welfare

Research how tribes are supporting and protecting children and families through initiatives such as holistic, culturally-informed child welfare practice, parenting programs, child advocacy centers, child support enforcement programs, and other efforts to address and prevent harms against children.

Corrections & Reentry

Get information about how tribes are using jail-based programs and reentry to help individuals address underlying criminogenic needs and connect them to services to help them prepare for a successful transition back into life in the community.

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

There are numerous barriers tribes face in addressing violence against Native women. Learn how tribes are working to overcome those barriers and keep Native women and citizens safe from domestic violence and sexual assault.

Jurisdictional Collaborations

Identify what tribes are doing to address public safety challenges through collaborations with other tribes, counties, treatment, and service providers. Learn about tribes that are developing shared protocols, coordinating referrals to treatment, and collaborating with agencies to share resources.

Juvenile Justice

Read about how tribes are connecting justice-involved youth with treatment, counseling, healthy social activities, family supports, cultural programming, mentoring, and other critical services. These programs seek to protect youth from a future of crime and incarceration and build a new generation of tribal leaders.

Substance Use and Recovery

Substance misuse disorder, including the misuse of alcohol, remains one of the most pressing challenges in many tribal communities. Research how tribes are response to this ongoing crisis by experimenting with a wide array of prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies to break the cycle of addiction.

Traditional Practices

Read about how tribes are using traditional practices in their justice system to resolve disputes, impose appropriate consequences for harmful behavior, or to connect tribal members with their culture and traditions in meaningful interventions designed to reduce recidivism and provide healing and wellness.

Tribal Court Operations

Learn how tribal courts are designing programs, developing protocols, revising codes, and strengthening tribal court operations to support public safety and community wellness.

Violent Crime Responses

Get information on how to strengthen tribal justice practices to address violent crimes such as domestic violence, sex offenses, gang involvement, assault, and MMIW. Learn how tribes are navigating jurisdictional challenges to protect victims and survivors and support community safety.

Tribal Jurisdictions Map

Programs by Region

Central Pacific

California is a PL 280 state that covers a large geographic area on the west coast of the United States. Tribes in this state often have unique challenges in the administration of justice due to jurisdictional complexities, tribal/state relations, and limitations in resources. Tribes in California have sought solutions to these challenges through unique collaborations and partnerships.

Pacific Northwest

States in the Northwest region include Washington and Oregon. This region is rich in natural resources such as redwood forests, scenic mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. Many tribes in this region are subject to PL 280 and must navigate jurisdictional collaborations with local state and counties in the administration of criminal justice.

Mountain

This region includes tribes within the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada. The states in this region contain diverse landscapes including mountain, rivers, forests, plains, and deserts. Tribes in this region often experience justice system challenges related to limited resources, remoteness, and weather patterns. The tribes in this region are diverse in terms of culture, history, and in justice system approaches.

Southwest

States in the Southwest region include Arizona and New Mexico. This region includes deserts, high deserts lands, and pine forests. This region contains a diverse range of tribes from border tribes to pueblos and many of the tribes in this region had a history of interaction with Spanish settlers and colonialists. Tribes in this region are diverse in their justice system responses.

Midwest

This region contains Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. The landscapes in this region are characterized by lakes, large bodies of water, and agrarian land. Some of the tribes in this region are subject to PL 280, and engage in cross-jurisdictional collaborations to address justice system needs. The tribes in this region are diverse and include tribes historically from this region, as well as others that were relocated from the Northeast and other regions. 

Central Plains

The states in this region include North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas Oklahoma, and Texas. This region is dominated by rolling plains, and contains some mountains, dry lands, wetlands, and border regions. The tribes in this region are a mixture of plains tribes, as well as tribes that were moved to this region during forced relocation. Many tribes in this region face challenges with remoteness, and access to resources. Tribes in Oklahoma also face unique jurisdictional challenges due to checkerboard allotments that often require extensive cross-jurisdictional collaborations. 

Southeast

This region contains Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. The landscapes in this region are characterized by fertile wetlands, mountains regions, coastal lands, swamps, gulf waters and the Atlantic coastline. Though historically there were many tribes in this region, due to relocation, many Southeastern tribes were forced west. In addition to federally recognized tribes this region contains several tribes that have state or local recognition and some that are seeking federal recognition. 

Northeast

The states in this region include Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. This region is filled with forests, hills, agrarian landscapes, and Atlantic coastline. In addition to the rich natural resources, this region is also characterized by numerous urban settings. Though historically there were many tribes in this region, due to relocation, many Northeastern tribes were forced west. In addition to the tribal nations residing in this region, the Northeast also holds the highest urban Native population in the country. 

Non-contiguous states

Comprises Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska has the largest number of tribes of any state with 231 Native Alaskan tribal entities and Alaskan Natives comprise rough 18% of the state’s population. Native Alaskan tribes experience unique challenges in the administration of justice due to jurisdictional complications, geography, terrain, and seasonal changes. While Hawaii has a large Native Hawaiian population, there are currently no federally recognized tribes in the state. 

Featured content

Navajo Nation DNA People’s Legal Services

DNA People’s Legal Services provides free, culturally appropriate, civil legal services in tribal, state and federal courts to qualifying low-income residents living in geographically isolated portions of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. DNA is an acronym for a Navajo phrase that translates to “attorneys who work for the revitalization of the People”. Our work upholds the nation’s ideal of “justice for all”.

DNA focuses on helping the most vulnerable members of our communities – low-income families, elders, and victims of abuse, exploitation and discrimination, and especially people in these groups who don’t speak English well. Most clients live below the federal poverty level, although we assist victims of domestic violence regardless of income. Annually, DNA attorneys helps thousands of people to access the justice system to secure safety and financial stability, and maintain dignity in their lives.

@courtinnovation with support from @DOJgov built a tool kit for communities building or expanding their tribal reentry programs. https://bja.ojp.gov/news/planning-reentry-program-toolkit-tribal-communities-now-available?utm_content=Reentry-Program-Toolkit-for-Tribal-Communities

.@POTUS signed a new order directing the depts of Justice, @Interior, @DHSgov Health & Human Services to create a "comprehensive strategy to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans," as well as addressing the "epidemic of #MMIP." https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-signs-executive-order-improve-safety-justice-native/story?id=81180043

"If I'm out of balance, I'm no good for the world. Restorative justice taught me about balance," said David Raasch, retired chief judge, during an event that brought together our teachers and elders in Native communities and restorative justice. Watch now. https://www.courtinnovation.org/publications/healing-conflict-restorative-approaches-and-path-forward-justice

“Generations of historical trauma" have resulted in a justice system that exacerbates sentencing disparities for Native Americans. Advocates believe more power & funding to tribal justice systems is what will allow for real positive change to take place. https://bit.ly/3lmuRaW

Celebrate #IndigenousPeoplesDay2021 by recognizing the incredible work being done by tribal justice systems across the United States to build approaches to justice that honor and uphold Indigenous culture. https://www.courtinnovation.org/about/announcements/celebrating-indigenous-peoples-day-2021

Monday is #IndigenousDay - a time to celebrate indigenous peoples everywhere & their contributions to our world.

Find out more: https://www.un.org/en/observances/indigenous-day #WeAreIndigenous

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