Legal Information: Tribal

Abuse in Tribal Communities

March 12, 2010

What is a tribal protection order?

A tribal protection order is a tribal court order issued to an abuser to protect a victim of domestic violence. Protection orders usually prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim of abuse, coming near the victim, her children, and her property. Such orders can be temporary or permanent and are usually issued for a specific time period.  Please visit the page Tribal Protection Orders on this site.

Tribal protection orders are issued by tribal courts, but similar court-issued protection orders are available in every state in the US. No matter where a protection order is issued from, it should be valid and enforceable in every state and throughout Indian country. 

It is important to remember that protection orders only work when the victim is willing to take action to have it enforced. Also, the protection order is limited in what it can do in the form of actual protection.

Note: Protection orders may be called different things in each Indian tribe and Alaska Native village and in each state. They might be called “restraining orders,” “protective orders,” “Orders of Protection,” etc. “Protection order” is the generic term we will be using throughout this webpage to refer to this sort of court order.

It is important to note that not all tribal nations have a court system or a police department, and therefore those tribal nations generally do not issue protection orders. If your tribe does not have a tribal court, and you would like to file for a protection order, you can go to the state court nearest you and ask the court clerk how you can file for a protection order. You will find a list of courthouse contact information on this website on the “Courthouse Locations” page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

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