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Legal Information: Tribal

Abuse in Tribal Communities

Updated: 
November 6, 2019

Do I need a lawyer?

You can represent yourself throughout the process of seeking a tribal protection order, which is called being pro se. Many people are successful in getting protection orders on their own. However, in many situations, it would be to your advantage to have an attorney to help you through this process. This is especially true if the abuser has an attorney or child custody issues are involved.

You can go to our Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals in your state. If you do not want an attorney or cannot find an attorney, there may be another option. Some tribal courts allow non-attorneys who have gone through special training, often called lay advocates, to practice in tribal court. Your local domestic violence program may have lay advocates or even legal advocates who can help you to file for a protection order and prepare for the hearing. You may be able to connect with someone who can help and who knows the system by contacting one of the tribal coalitions listed on the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center website.

If you want to research tribal codes and constitutions, you can go to the Native American Rights Fund’s National Indian Law Library website.