Native Law and Legal Strategy | Native Peoples, Native Politics || Radcliffe Institute | Summary and Q&A

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May 23, 2016
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Harvard University
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Native Law and Legal Strategy | Native Peoples, Native Politics || Radcliffe Institute

TL;DR

This panel discussion explores the role of tribal court systems, the influence of the federal government, and the nuances of judging within tribal and federal courts.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What are the main goals of the Native American Rights Fund?

The Native American Rights Fund aims to preserve tribal existence, protect tribal resources, preserve Native American human rights, and hold governments accountable to Native Americans.

Q: How has the Tribal Supreme Court Project impacted tribal advocacy?

The project has strengthened tribal advocacy by monitoring cases, coordinating resources, and developing strategies to protect tribal sovereignty.

Q: How has the Hopi tribal court system been influenced by federal policies?

The Hopi tribal court system was established as a result of the Indian Reorganization Act, which allowed tribes to reorganize and govern themselves. However, the influence of federal policies has sometimes hindered the full exercise of tribal authority.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) was established in 1970 to address the preservation of tribal existence, the protection of tribal natural resources, the preservation of Native American human rights, and the accountability of governments to Native Americans.

  • The Tribal Supreme Court Project, a part of NARF, monitors cases in lower courts and coordinates resources to strengthen tribal advocacy. The project has seen varying success in the US Supreme Court, with a current 50% win rate.

  • The Hopi Tribe is an example of a traditional tribe with a matrilineal society. The tribe has its own constitution and court system, which has been influenced by federal policies and the Indian Reorganization Act.

  • The Hopi tribal court system originated from ad hoc rules established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to regulate Indian behavior. The courts initially focused on criminal matters and were often presided over by individuals appointed by the BIA superintendent.

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