Legal Information: Tribal

Tribal Law

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Updated: 
March 12, 2010

What is a tribal justice system?

According to US Code Title 25, Chapter 38A, Sec. 3653, the term ''tribal court'', ''tribal court system'', or ''tribal justice system'' means the entire judicial branch, and employees thereof, of an Indian tribe, including, but not limited to, traditional methods for dispute resolution, trial courts, appellate courts, including inter-tribal appellate courts, alternative dispute resolution systems, and circuit rider systems, established by inherent tribunal authority whether or not they constitute a court of record.*

In the Indian Tribal Justice Technical and Legal Assistance Act of 2000, the Congress declared that:

  1. There is a government-to-government relationship between the United States and Indian tribes; and
  2. Indian tribes are sovereign entities and are responsible for exercising governmental authority over Indian lands.**

* 25 USC § 3653
 ** 25 USCS § 3651