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Tribal Law and Policy Institute

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute is a Native American owned and operated non-profit corporation organized to design and deliver education, research, Training, and technical assistance programs which promote the enhancement of justice in Indian country and the health, well-being, and culture of Native peoples. We are guided by a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board. We utilize an Approach to Training and Technical Assistance which is incorporated into all of our Programs and Services.

Tribal Law and Policy Institute Approach to Training and Technical Assistance

We seek to facilitate the sharing of resources so that Indian Nations and tribal justice systems have access to cost effective resources which can be adapted to meet the individual needs of their communities. We strive to establish programs which link tribal justice systems with other academic, legal, and judicial resources such as law schools, Indian law clinics, tribal colleges, Native American Studies programs, Indian legal organizations and consultants, tribal legal departments, other tribal courts, and other judicial/legal institutions. Through these collaborative alliances, we are implementing a synergistic approach to the delivery of services to Indian Country - accessing a wealth of talent and resources. We firmly believe that the coming years will see a dramatic change in the traditional mode of the delivery of tribal justice training and technical assistance services. Our staff and consultants are developing training through a variety of modes such as interactive CD-ROM and Internet based distant learning programs.

Tribal Law and Policy Institute Publications

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute has developed a series of Comprehensive Publications. We believe that resources - especially resources developed under federal grants - should be freely accessibly on the Internet in order to maximize tribal access to these resources.

Tribal Law and Policy Institute Programs

Our current projects include the following:

  • National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes (NRC4Tribes): Under a grant from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACF), Children’s Bureau, the Tribal Law and Policy Institute has launched the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes. The NRC4Tribes serves as a member of the Children’s Bureau Child Welfare Training and Technical Assistance Network (T/TA Network) which is designed to improve child welfare systems and to support States and Tribes in achieving sustainable, systemic change that results in greater safety, permanency and well-being for children, youth and families. Under this grant, the NRC4Tribes will provide and broker training and technical assistance to support the enhancement of Tribal child welfare systems. For more information, contact .
  • Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts Training and Technical Assistance Project Goals: TLPI and partners are designing, developing, and delivering a Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) Program with 3 overall goals: (1) to provide a wide array of T/TA to assist tribal jurisdictions in developing tribal adult, juvenile, and/or family wellness courts; (2) to provide T/TA to strengthen existing tribal wellness courts; and (3) to provide the field with state-of-the-art information and resources on effective strategies for addressing substance-abusing offenders in tribal drug courts.
  • Walking on Common Ground: Collaborative Promising Practices. Under a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, TLPI is transforming the current www.WalkingOnCommonGround.org website into an on-going permanent comprehensive resource highlighting tribal/state collaboration promising practices and providing resource toolkits to assist those wishing to replicate. TLPI will identify specific tribal state court forum promising practices (along with establishing tribal state court forum learning/mentoring sites) and then publicize these promising practices and how to replicate through both hard copy and Internet resources. In addition, TLPI is identifying specific Public Law 280 promising practices (along with establishing Public Law 280 learning and mentoring sites) and then publicizing these promising practices and how to replicate them through both hard copy and Internet resources. For more information, contact .
  • National Indian Nations Conference Justice for Victims of Crime- TLPI has successfully designed, developed, and delivered a national conference for Victims of Crime in Indian Country in Palm Springs, California, in December 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010  and the Current Site under a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime. For more information, contact .
  • Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Technical Assistance – Under a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) TLPI is continuing our work on issues surround violence against Native women. This current program includes three components: We are providing an ongoing evaluation process, revision process, online access, and dissemination activities for Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) resources developed under previous OVW grants. In addition, we are providing ongoing Technical Assistance and Training (T/TA) services in order to assist OVW Tribal Grantee Programs to more effectively utilize TLPI resources developed under previous OVW grants. And finally, we are developing a tribal specific promising practices initiative addressing effective intervention in Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment Cases. For more information, contact .
  • California American Indian Data Investigation Project: In collaboration with the California Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), TLPI is engaging Native communities in the state on priority areas for tribally specific data. TLPI will investigate available data sources, and issue a final report on what tribally specific data is available, what data is not available and why. For more information, contact .
  • Tribal Court Training and Technical Assistance Project - We are working under contracts with individual Indian Tribes and tribal justice systems to provide a broad range of training and technical assistance services, including on-site training sessions, tribal court development, and tribal code development. For more information, contact .

Past projects include the following:

  • Project Peacemaker Tribal Legal Studies - We worked with the UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Turtle Mountain Community College, and other tribal colleges on Project Peacemaker, a collaborative initiative to develop, pilot, and implement Tribal Legal Studies curricula for tribally controlled colleges. We formalized the design, development, and printing of Tribal Legal Studies textbooks and instructor guides for each of the nine Tribal Legal Studies courses. The first three Tribal Legal Studies textbooks - Introduction to Tribal Legal Studies and Tribal Criminal Law and Procedure, and Sharing our Stories of Survival: Native Women Surviving Violence (along with the accompanying Instructor Guides)- are now available through AltaMira Press. Tribal Legal Studies courses are also being offered through distance learning (Internet and satellite) by Turtle Mountain Community College, Northwest Indian College, and UCLA Extension (See Tribal Legal Studies).
  • Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Technical Assistance - We provided a Tribal Domestic Violence Legal Program for grant recipients of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The program included three components: Tribal Code Development and Implementation; Violence Against Indian Women Course for Tribal Colleges and Coordination and communication among OVW Tribal Technical Assistance Providers. Activities include regional trainings, on-site technical assistance, development of resource materials and workbooks, and internet-based reference materials. This project focused on the safety of Indian women and children, while helping strengthen the ability of tribal justice systems to hold offenders accountable for violent behavior. (see Violence Against Indian Women ).
  • Training and Technical Assistance for Children's Justice Act (CJA) Grantees - We provided comprehensive, skills-building training and technical assistance to eligible tribes and tribal organizations that receive funding under the Children's Justice Act program. (see Tribal CJA Resources)
  • Indian Nations Conference - We successfully designed, developed, and delivered a national conference for Victims of Crime in Indian Country in Palm Springs, California, in December 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 under a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime.
  • Tribal Healing to Wellness (Drug) Courts - We have been providing technical assistance for tribal drug courts and developing tribal court specific resource materials. The Institute provided extensive on-site and regional technical assistance under this project. Moreover, the Institute developed six major publications under this project - the publications are available for downloading (see Tribal Drug Court Resources).
  • Tribal Court CASA - We worked with the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA) to provide training and technical assistance for the development and enhancement of tribal court CASA programs (see Tribal CASA Resources).
  • HUD Tribal Legal Code Program - We have developed a comprehensive Tribal Legal Code Resource to assist Indian Nations in the development of the legal infrastructure needed for housing and community development. The Tribal Legal Code Program includes a revised Tribal Housing Code.
  • Hopi Appellate Program - The Hopi Appellate Program worked in conjunction with UCLA Native Nations Law & Policy Center and the Hopi Appellate Court to provide a clinical program which trains and supervises law students to serve as law clerks for the Appellate Court of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona.
  • NAICJA Administrator - The Institute served as Administrator for the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA) from May 1998 – December 2000. The Institute provided the lead role in all NAICJA activities including the development of the Initial NAICJA Website (from the Internet Archive), the design and delivery of NAICJA’s annual conferences, and the design and delivery of the NAICJA Violence Against Women (VAWA) grants. Moreover, one of the Institute’s main responsibilities as NAICJA Administrator was to design, develop, and establish the National Tribal Justice Resource Center under Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) grants. Following the establishment of the National Tribal Justice Resource Center, we also designed and developed the Initial National Tribal Justice Resource Center Website, including the initial searchable database of tribal court opinions and searchable database of tribal codes.

Tribal Law and Policy Institute Services

We provide a wide range of exceptional training and technical assistance services, including the following:

  • On-Site Training - We specialize in the design, development, and delivery of on-site training and technical assistance which is a cost effective method for providing training and resource materials designed to meet the specific needs of the individual community. Our on-site training is designed to cover a wide range of possible topics and audiences. Moreover, we are in the process of implementing training methodologies which will enable your staff to continue their training long after the formal training has ended, including interactive CD-ROM resource materials, Internet based distance learning, periodic email updates to our resource materials, and access to restricted areas of the Tribal Court Clearinghouse.
  • Tribal Court Development - We provide a wide range of tribal court development services, including tribal court development technical assistance services, tribal court development training sessions, tribal court advocate training, tribal bar examination development, traditional/peacemaker court development, tribal appellate court development, policy development assistance, program development/capacity building, tribal code development, and long term planning/development.
  • Tribal Court Review Services - We provide evaluations of tribal judicial systems (and other tribal governmental institutions) to determine operational strengths and weaknesses and to make recommendations for improvements along with the necessary information and resources to implement these improvements.
  • Tribal Code Drafting and Revision - We provide tribal code drafting and revision services for tribes and tribal courts. We approach the critical issue of tribal code development by working with the individual community to address the community’s special needs and legal requirements and to develop codes which reflect unique local solutions to local problems.
  • Grant and Proposal Writing - We provide a range of grant and proposal writing services, including technical assistance with fundraising strategies, grant and proposal writing training sessions, and assistance with drafting of specific proposals.
  • Tribal Court Website Development - We provide a range of computer and Internet services, including tribal court web site development. Besides developing the Tribal Court Clearinghouse, we have created the initial web sites for the National American Indian Court Judges Association, the National Tribal Justice Resource Center, and the OJJDP Tribal Youth Program. We also helped develop web sites for the Hopi Nation Tribal and Appellate Courts, and American Indian Development Associates.

California Staff

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute
8235 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 211
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 650-5467 ~ Fax: (323) 650-8149

  • Administrative Assistant: Chad Jackson (Cocopah)
  • Executive Director: Jerry Gardner (Cherokee)
  • Graphics Specialist: Terrilena Dodson (Navajo)
  • Operations Director: Jessica Allen (Apache)
  • Program Assistant: Naomi Miguel (Tohono O’odham)
  • Program Director: Heather Valdez Singleton
  • Project Assistant: Melissa Aaker (Turtle Mountain Ojibwa Descendant)
  • Tribal Advocacy Legal Specialist: Maureen L. White Eagle (Métis)
  • Tribal Court Specialist: Chia Halpern (Spirit Lake Dakota)
  • Tribal Law Specialist: Lauren van Schilfgaarde (Cochiti Pueblo)
  • Victim Advocacy Legal Specialist: Kelly Stoner (Cherokee)
  • Webmaster: Lou Sgroi

Alaska Office

Please note that the Institute’s Alaska office was closed due to the loss of funding for the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Children’s Justice Act (CJA) Technical Assistance (TA) grant that had funded the Alaska office.

Minnesota Staff

Tribal Law and Policy Institute
161 Marie Ave. E
St Paul, MN 55118
(651) 644-1145 ~ Fax: (651) 644-1157

  • Victim Advocacy Assistant: Arlene Downwind-White (Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians)
  • Victim Advocacy Specialist: Bonnie Clairmont (Ho-Chunk)

Montana Staff

National Resource Center for Tribes
501 N. Sanders St., Suite 2
Helena, MT 59601

  • Administrative Manager: Maria Alidio
  • Director: Kathy Deserly
  • Program Assistant: Kim Just (Gros Ventre/Arapaho)
  • Program Coordinator: Elizabeth Deserly (Kickapoo)
  • Tribal Child Welfare Specialist: Joe Walker (Delaware)

* Please note that our staff cannot answer questions about Native Genealogy nor can we provide legal advice or legal assistance with any case pending in any court.

 

Tribal Law and Policy Institute Board of Directors

  • President: Abby Abinanti (Yurok) - California Juvenile Dependency Judge
  • Vice President: David Raasch (Stockbridge-Munsee) - Chief Judge, Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Court
  • Secretary - Treasurer: Margrett Oberly Kelley (Osage/Comanche) - Tribal Court Consultant
  • Board Member: Evelyn Stevenson (Salish) - Attorney, Legal Department of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation
  • Board Member: Ed Reina (Pima/Maricopa) - Chief of Tribal Police Services of the Yavapai-Prescott Tribal Police Department
  • Board Member: Pat Sekaquaptewa (Hopi)
  • Board Member: Mike Jackson (Tlingit/Haida)

Tribal Law and Policy Institute Advisory Board

  • Robert Cooter - Professor of Law (UC Berkeley School of Law)
  • Jean Buffalo-Reyes (Chippewa) - Chief Judge, Red Cliff Tribal Court
  • Duane Champagne (Chippewa) - Professor of Sociology (UCLA)
  • Edythe Chenois (Quinault) - Chief Judge, Quinault Tribal Court
  • Michelle Chino (Northern Cheyenne) - Professor (University of Nevada Las Vegas)
  • Caroline Cooper - Professor of Law (American University Justice Programs Office)
  • Joseph Flies-Away (Hualapai) - Tribal Court Judge/Consultant
  • Carrie Garrow (St. Regis Mohawk) - Chief Judge, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Court
  • Carole Goldberg - Professor of Law (UCLA)
  • Ada Pecos Melton (Jemez Pueblo) - Director, American Indian Development Associates
  • Patricia Riggs (Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo) - Tribal Court Judge/Consultant
  • Daisy Stevens (Athabascan) - Executive Director, Native Village of Fort Yukon
  • Tom Tso (Navajo) - Retired Chief Justice, Navajo Nation Supreme Court
  • Mary Wynne (Rosebud Sioux) - Chief Judge, Colville Tribal Court
  • Robert Yazzie (Navajo) - Chief Justice, Navajo Nation Supreme Court
  • James Zion - Solicitor, Navajo Nation Supreme Court

Staff Biographies

Jerry Gardner is an attorney with more than 25 years of experience working with Indian tribes, tribal court systems, and victims of crime in Indian country. He is the founding Executive Director of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute - an Indian owned and operated non-profit corporation established in 1996 to design and deliver education, research, training, and technical assistance programs which promote the improvement of justice in Indian country and the health, well-being, and culture of Native peoples. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the UCLA School of Law and an Appellate Court Judge for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in North Dakota. He was an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall) from 1995-2000 and Administrator for the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA) from May 1998-December 2000. He served as the Senior Staff Attorney with the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) from NIJC’s establishment in 1983 until December 1996. He has also worked for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the national office of the Legal Services Corporation, and the American Indian Lawyer Training Program.

Heather Valdez Singleton holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a Master's degree in American Indian Studies from UCLA and an undergraduate degree in anthropology from UC Berkeley. Her policy research focuses on tribal criminal justice policy in Indian Country. She has researched and written in the area of tribal legal and community development, and California tribal history. Her experience includes serving as project director for UCLA’s Native Nations Law and Policy Center’s nationwide assessment of Public Law 280; tribal liaison for tribal court grantees in California; research coordinator for UCLA’s American Indian Studies Center; and consultant for the Gabrieleno/Tongva tribal recognition project. Heather lives in Venice, California.

Bonnie Clairmont has been an effective advocate for battered women and other sexual assault victims in the Native American community for the past 14 years. A skilled educator and leader, Bonnie was one of the first Native American women in the country to speak out and organize the Native American community to provide culturally appropriate education and services for victims. In 1981, Bonnie began her career in the battered women's movement at Women's Advocates, a shelter in St. Paul. This led to her instrumental role in the creation of Women of Nations, the first organization to address the issue of battering in the Native American community. In 1992, Bonnie initiated the development of the Eagle's Nest Shelter, which provides culturally appropriate shelter services for battered Native American women. Bonnie became the director of the Division of Indian Work Sexual Assault Project in Minneapolis in 1985, where her commitment to sexual assault victims and her community activism skills led her to organize a community response to a series of brutal murders of Native American women. Bonnie has developed a culturally specific training curriculum for a wide variety of programs that serve Native American sexual assault victims, and she has served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault as well as on the Attorney General's Task Force on Sexual Violence in 1988. Since 1989 Bonnie has served as a staff member of Sexual Offense Services of Ramsey County.

Arlene Downwind-White joined the Tribal Law & Policy Institute in April 2005 as the Victim Advocacy Program Assistant at the Institutes St. Paul office. She has volunteered and worked in the Indian community for over 20 years. She has been an active volunteer and continues to try and help people overcome obstacles and barriers to becoming self-sufficient and independent. She has worked with Mending the Sacred Hoop/Technical Assistance Project as their Administrative Coordinator and Praxis International as their Tribal Liaison to provide technical assistance to tribes and villages throughout the U.S. and Alaska regarding domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse. She is a member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. She has two girls (21 and 15) as well as her niece (14) who has lived with her since she was 7 years old. She is also a very proud grandmother to two grandsons (3 1/2 and 9 months).

Contact

For information concerning our training and technical assistance services, we can be reached at:

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute
8235 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 211
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 650-5467 ~ Fax: (323) 650-8149

 

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Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
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Native Organizations

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