Tribal Court Clearinghouse          

South and East Tribal Courts/TCAP-BJA

In August 2002, the Tribal Relations Committee of the Conference of Chief Justices adopted a resolution entitled Resolution 27: To Continue the Improved Operating Relations Among Tribal, State, and Federal Judicial Systems. This resolution was intended to endorse continued efforts to Build on Common Ground, including the endorsement of the following three principles:

  • First, tribal state, and federal courts should continue cooperative efforts to enhance relations and resolve jurisdictional issues.
  • Second, Congress should provide resources to tribal courts consistent with their current and increasing responsibilities.
  • Third, tribal, state, and federal authorities should take steps to include cross-recognition of judgments, final orders, laws, and public acts of the three jurisdictions.

Walking on Common Ground ( is the most recent effort - sponsored by the Conference of Chief Justices and many other state, tribal, and federal organizations - to build upon the earlier Building on Common Ground effort. The Walking on Common Ground mission statement is: Tribal, federal, and state justice communities join together in the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, to promote and sustain collaboration, education, and sharing of resources for the benefit of all people. Some important documents found on this site are:

  • Revised Tribal-State Collaboration Efforts Adobe Acrobat Reader is Required to View this File. (U.S. Department of Justice, July 2003)
  • Teague Protocol Adobe Acrobat Reader is Required to View this File. purpose is to effectively and efficiently allocate judicial resources by providing a legal mechanism which clearly outlines the path a legal dispute will follow when both a tribal court and a circuit have jurisdiction over a matter. This protocol does not apply to any case in which controlling law commits exclusive jurisdiction to either the tribal court or the circuit court.
  • 1993 Building on Common Ground Document Adobe Acrobat Reader is Required to View this File. (Web Version) - A Leadership Conference to Develop A National Agenda to Reduce Jurisdictional Disputes Between Tribal, State, and Federal Courts.

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute received a grant through the Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Institute from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide training and technical assistance for South and East Tribes and Tribal Courts, including both (1) training and technical assistance for TCAP grantees and (2) capacity building for non-TCAP grantees.

Other national TCAP training and technical assistance providers are:

The Institute has established a formal collaborating partnership on this project with:

  • The Center for Indigenous Law, Governance Citizenship at Syracuse University School of Law is a research based law and policy institute focused on Indigenous nations, their development and their interaction with the U.S. and Canadian governments. Syracuse University College of Law, Suite 263 E.I., White Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244 315-443-9558
  • The Native Nations Law and Policy Center at UCLA School of Law whose mission is to support Native nations throughout the United States in developing their systems of governance and in addressing critical public policy issues and to apply the resources of state-supported education together with tribal expertise to address contemporary educational needs for Tribes. The NNLPC includes the following programs and projects: Research and Publications; Tribal Legal Development Clinic; Instructional and Training (Tribal Learning Community and Educational Exchange) University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, Box 951476, Los Angeles, CA 9009
  • American Indian Development Associates (AIDA) is a comprehensive resource for tribal, state, & federal agencies, service providers, and community members seeking information related to juvenile crime, violence and victimization issues in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. 2401 12th St., NW, Suite 212, Albuquerque, NM 87104 (505) 842-1122; Fax: (505) 842-9652.

The Institute has also been working informally with the Eastern Tribal Court Judges Association and the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) Tribal Justice Committee.

BJA sponsored trainings

All TCAP grantees are strongly encouraged to attend BJA sponsored trainings. Please see the 2005 BJA TCAP Training Calendar for upcoming BJA sponsored trainings. For additional information on BJA sponsored trainings, please contact Karrie Azure-Elliott at the Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Institute at and 701-777-6306.

South and Eastern Tribes

Most South and Eastern Tribes are members of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET). United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. is a non-profit, inter-tribal organization that collectively represents its member Tribes at the regional and national level. USET has grown to include twenty-four federally recognized Tribes, operating through various workgroups and committees and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information amongst Tribes, agencies and governments. In addition to the four initial 1968 USET Tribal members (Eastern Band of Cherokee, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, the Miccosukee Tribe and the Seminole Tribe of Florida), USET now includes:

  1. Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, 1971
  2. Seneca Nation,1972
  3. Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, 1974
  4. St. Regis Band of Mohawk Indians, 1976
  5. Penobscot Indian Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribes, 1979
  6. Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, 1981
  7. Tunica Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, 1984
  8. Poarch Band of Creek Indians, 1984
  9. Narragansett Indian Tribe, 1984
  10. Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, 1984
  11. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), 1987
  12. Alabama Coushatta Tribe of Texas, 1989
  13. The Oneida Indian Nation, 1991
  14. Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians, 1992
  15. Catawba Indian Nation, 1993
  16. Jena Band of Choctaw, 1995
  17. Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, 1996
  18. The Cayuga Nation, 2000

United South and Eastern Tribes Inc. (USET) is dedicated to promoting Indian leadership, improving the quality of life for American Indians, and protecting Indian rights and natural resources on tribal lands. Although its guiding principle is unity, USET plays a major role in the self-determination of all its member Tribes by working to improve the capabilities of Tribal governments.

Online Resources for South and East Tribal Justice Systems

Tribal Court Websites

Penobscot Nation Tribal Court is the judicial system of the Penobscot Nation in Maine. This site is part of Wabanaki Legal News - a newsletter of Pine Tree Legal Assistance. It contains A Self-Help Guide to the Tribal Court System which includes the following sections:

South and Eastern Tribal Codes

Draft Memorandums of Understandings (MOUs)

Other Resources

General Information


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