Vision, Mission, Objectives, and Philosophies of the Tribal Law and Policy
Our vision is to empower Native communities to create and control their own
institutions for the benefit/welfare of all community members now and for future
Our mission is to enhance and strengthen tribal sovereignty and justice while
honoring community values, protecting rights, and promoting well being.
- To help create and support institutions and
systems that work toward improving the welfare of Native communities,
including future generations.
- To support tribal sovereignty and autonomy.
- To facilitate the empowerment of all Native
individuals and communities that have suffered from abuse or abusive
historical practices and policies.
- To enhance the development of resources by
making more options available, providing resources and tools for
developing tribal sovereignty, and developing model service delivery
systems that meet the needs of individual Indian communities in a
culturally appropriate manner.
- To assist tribes in building the capacity to
be self-reliant by utilizing tribal members to meet the internally
defined needs of the tribe.
Philosophy on sovereignty and historical context:
- We acknowledge that tribal governments
have the inherent capacity and responsibility to effectively respond to
issues, disputes, crimes, and crises within their communities.
- We seek to empower tribal communities to
build upon inherent strengths as sovereign nations.
- We believe that tribal sovereignty and
tribal self-determination are critical for the healthy functioning of
- We believe that addressing tribal issues
in contemporary times requires a thorough examination of the historical
relationship between individual tribal nations and the federal, state,
and local governments.
Philosophy on victimization of Native people and tribal communities:
- We acknowledge that colonization happened
and understand that it has ongoing impact.
- We believe that past institutionalization
of biased policies and practices have created an environment of
disparity and despair in parts of Indian Country.
- We believe that Tribes and individual
Native people have suffered and continue to suffer from on going unjust
policies and practices that have worked to prevent fully empowering
tribes as sovereigns and Native people as self-reliant citizens of
- We believe that the response to all
violence should include adapting culturally respectful solutions that do
not compromise the safety of individuals or communities.
Philosophy on victimization in tribal communities:
- We believe victims of crime have inherent
rights that should be honored and upheld by all governments.
- We seek to empower victims of crime rather
than pathologize their response to victimization.
- We believe that tribal communities have a
long history of providing support and services to victims of crime, and
contemporary responses should enhance these inherent strengths.
- We endorse safety for victims,
accountability for offenders, and accountability for governmental
entities for prevention of offenses and the rehabilitation of offenders
or the segregation of those offenders when that will protect the
- We believe that all governments must be
accountable for the safety of their citizens.
Philosophy on gender-based crimes:
- We believe there is a disproportionately
high rate of violence committed against Native women.
- We acknowledge that prior to colonization,
women had revered and respected roles in tribal communities.
- We believe that colonization has had a
disparate impact on women and has promoted violence against Native
- We endorse the reclamation of traditional
beliefs about the sacredness of women.
- We believe that the response to violence
against Native women must be framed within an empowerment model.
Philosophy on how we work with tribal nations:
- We recognize tribal communities themselves
are the source of cultural knowledge and legal authority through
leaders, elders, and culture-bearers.
- We believe that tribal communities should
control the design and form of their laws and the enhancement of their
- We believe that tribal laws should be
developed through a representative and inclusive community-based
- We commit to designing “do-it-yourself”
tools that can be tailored for the needs of particular tribal
communities rather than a “one size fits all” approach.
- We commit to identifying and working with
local consultants and those with expertise in the targeted communities.
- We commit to working with those
organizations that are willing to be accountable to tribal nations and
that support our mission.
- We commit to making resources readily
available in a variety of formats at the lowest cost possible.
Philosophy on Alaska Native issues:
- We recognize and respect the right of
Alaska Native villages to express and assert their sovereignty on their
- We recognize Native peoples in Alaska have
unique histories and challenges that are distinct from those in Native
nations in the lower 48.
- We recognize that statewide organizations
and regional organizations representing Native communities do not often
have consensus on how to address social and justice system problems.
- We believe it is essential to collaborate
and coordinate with a variety of entities, especially those that share
the Institutes mission and philosophies.
- We believe it is essential to have
responses tailored to the local Alaska Native communities.
Philosophy on terminology:
- We acknowledge that words and labels have
tremendous power, especially when referring to the identities of
- We believe that Indigenous Peoples have
the right to self-identify and we respect their choices on how to
- We believe that no single term is
acceptable by all indigenous people.
- We acknowledge the importance of
reflecting the sovereign status of tribal nations through words such as
“nations” and “governments.”
- We acknowledge the importance of
reflecting the political identity of members of tribal nations through
the use of the word “citizen.”
- We will use the terms “tribal nations,”
“tribes,” “Alaska Natives,” “indigenous nations” and “indigenous
peoples” interchangeably to refer to indigenous peoples in a collective
- We mean to include Alaska Natives when
using the term “tribal.”