Parent Custody Disputes

John v. Baker, 928 P.2d 738Unrecognized Guid format.
Full text of decision can be accessed here. 

John v. Baker is a landmark case about tribal jurisdiction in Alaska.  The Alaska Supreme Court recognized tribal jurisdiction over parent-versus-parent child custody disputes in the absence of Indian country.  The Alaska Supreme Court decided that Alaska Native tribes have retained their inherent sovereign authority as to matters of tribal self-government and internal domestic relations, which includes child custody. 

The Court decided that whether or not an Alaska Native tribal court had jurisdiction in a child custody case depended on whether the child involved was enrolled or eligible for enrollment with the tribe.  Either the State or the Tribe can decide custody.  If the Tribe makes the custody decision, the State may recognize it by granting it "comity," a legal term for respectful recognition of a sister court's orders.



AlaskaTribes.org