Tribal Court Clearinghouse          

California Tribal Courts/TCAP-BJA

About the Tribal Courts Assistance Program

The Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) Tribal Courts Assistance Program (TCAP) is one of the U.S. Department of Justice's primary initiatives for providing court-related support to tribal justice systems. Since fiscal year (FY) 1999, BJA has awarded 224 grants through a highly competitive process. The goal of TCAP is to develop new tribal courts, improve the operations of existing tribal courts, and provide funding for technical assistance and training of tribal court staff. The objective in reaching this goal is to help tribal governments develop, enhance, and continue operation of tribal judicial systems, including intertribal court systems. In FY 2004, BJA awarded 12 TCAP grants in California. Please see the BJA Tribal Court Grantees Website for more information.

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 California specific training and technical assistance for TCAP California grantees. The Institute worked collaboratively on this project with:

Other national TCAP training and technical assistance providers are:

Please note that the funding for this project ended in 2004. Although funding under this project has ended, the Institute continues to provide on-going activities, including:

  1. Maintenance and updating of the California Native Issues page on the Tribal Court Clearinghouse;
  2. Maintenance and updating of the California Tribal Courts/BJA page on the Tribal Court Clearinghouse;
  3. Maintenance and updating of the California TCAP RFP page on the Tribal Court Clearinghouse;
  4. On-going contact with California TCAP grantees;
  5. Notification of the California TCAP grantees concerning TCAP RFP's and resources to assist with applying for TCAP RFP's - see FY 2004 California Guide and FY 2005 USET Guide
  6. On-going coordination with the NIJ PL280 study through UCLA and the development of PL280 resources.

California TCAP grantees contact is Heather Valdez Singleton. Heather can be reached at 323-650-5467 or at .

California Orientation and Training, Held May 13-15, 2004

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute held an orientation and training for California TCAP grantees on May 13-15 in Palm Springs. Most resource materials provided at the conference are available on the conference CD-ROM. To order the CA TCAP CD-ROM free of charge, please contact Heather at 323-650-5467 or .

Online Resources for California Tribal Court Development

Sample California Tribal Codes

Other Codes

Draft Memorandums of Understandings (MOUs)

Other Resources

Other Resources

(PL 280, but not California Specific)

General Information


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