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November 01, 2016 Introduction

Justice in Indian Country

By Judge Beth A. Gibson

An often forgotten facet of our nation’s legal community includes a rich tapestry of tribal courts, all uniquely reflective of their own tribes’ rich history and culture. Our authors in this issue share a glimpse into not only the history and culture of Indian Country, but also how it intersects with federal and state law.

We start with our Waymaker, Congressman Thomas Jeffery Cole, a long-time champion of Native American issues in his state of Oklahoma, and on a national level as well.

Judge Timothy Connors of Michigan shares with readers a glimpse into traditional tribal justice methods, retrofitted into a modern courtroom setting, in “Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Why Peacemaking Makes Sense in State Court Justice Systems.”

Judge J. Matthew Martin of North Carolina and Ms. Susan Crotty of Illinois share valuable insight on traffic safety issues in their article “Traffic Safety in Indian Country: A New Beginning.”

Justice Bridget M. McCormack of the Michigan Supreme Court kindly shares the progress of Michigan’s tribal, state, and federal forums in her article “Michigan’s Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum: Attempting Great Things.”

Also, Mr. Alfred Urbina, attorney general of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, and Professor Melissa Tatum of the University of Arizona coauthor an amazing article that explores the implementation of the changes in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in Indian Country in their article “On-the-Ground VAWA Implementation: Lessons from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.”

Finally, Mr. Neil B. Nesheim of Alaska highlights creative tribal court practices that we all can learn from in “The Indigenous Practice That Is Transforming the Adversarial Process.”

Our authors are all leaders in Indian Country issues, and I am honored that they took time to share with us their experience and wisdom. I hope you enjoy this unique glimpse into an oft-overlooked justice system in our nation.