Tribal Court codes are important for the function of the tribal court. The codes can provide details for tribal government structures and procedures, outline the laws that the tribal government will enforce, regulate activities in the village, provide for a smooth flow of government and continuity between administrations, and will promote respect from other governments and institutions. Perhaps most importantly, tribal court codes can protect the Native cultural activities and traditions specific to the Tribe. Though developing a written code may seem like a daunting task, there are helpful resources available.
When your Tribe decides to draft tribal court codes, it may be helpful to use discussion items to get started. A list of sample discussion items to start the conversation can be found under “Resources.”
Tribal Codes can cover a diverse range of subject areas. For example, a Tribe can develop codes regarding tribal government structures and procedures, law and order, domestic relations, health and safety, land management, natural and cultural resources, and tribal business operations. The Tribe would then further develop law in each of those areas.
As an example, a Tribe that developed a Law & Order Code may further want to develop specific codes regarding underage drinking, trespass, vandalism, theft, minor assaults, truancy, juvenile curfew, disorderly conduct, alcohol regulation, etc.
To help understand what an Alcohol Control Code might look like, view this sample code:
The presentation “Tribal Constitutions & Codes” by UAF BB Campus and ALSC provides helpful information on building tribal codes. The presentation is best viewed in full-screen mode (click icon at the bottom of the presentation). Advance the slides by clicking on each slide or the arrows at the bottom. It can also be downloaded from the “Resources” to the right.
Family Code Development
ALSC recently held a webinar on Tribal Court Family Code Development: A Practical Guide (2018). This presentation offers a step by step guide to help develop a family code for tribal court. A recording of the presentation can be viewed below and the slides downloaded for future reference.