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Tribal Court Decisions: Sources

 

Prepared by Mary Whisner Jan. 15, 2010. Updated Jan. 7, 2015.

Finding tribal court decisions can be challenging. There is no comprehensive source for all tribal courts. Many tribes' decisions may not be published at all.

Below is a table listing tribes and sources where at least some decisions from that tribe may be found.

 


 

Commercial online sources

The table shows coverage of these commercial online sources:

(Academic passwords for these systems generally may not be used for summer or part-time jobs.)

 

Non-commercial online sources

The table shows coverage of these non-commercial online sources:

  • (The Tribal Court Clearinghouse used to include cases from VersusLaw but no longer does. Tribes that contribute their decisions to Versuslaw get access to the service.)

Earlier editions of this guide included the National Tribal Justice Resource Center as a source.

  • In early 2010, this site included cases from 17 participating tribal courts: Cherokee Nation, Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (WA), Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community (OR), Coquille Tribe of Oregon, Crow Tribe of Montana, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation (AZ), Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Hopi Tribe of Arizona, Las Vegas Tribe of Paiute Indians of the Las Vegas Indian Colony (NV), Makah Indian Tribe (WA), Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Connecticut, Mohegan Indian Tribe of Connecticut, Navajo Nation (AZ, NM, UT), Puyallup Tribe of the Puyallup Reservation of Washington, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (NY), Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe (LA)
  • Another 17 courts were listed as "coming soon."
  • We first noticed that the databases were down in March 2010.
  • In 2012, the National Indian Court Judges Association announced that the Resource Center would be reestablished in Boulder, CO. See Tribal Judges Revive National Tribal Justice Resource Center, Indian Country Today, Feb. 15, 2012. In January 2013, a note on the new site said, "The Resource Center is gearing up to provide on-line resources highlighting tribal court funding opportunities, training events and a repository of tribal bench books and practice guides as well as information related to both Indian Child Welfare issues and tribal civil and criminal legal assistance for tribal legal aid attorneys and public defenders." The status remains the same in January 2014.

 

If you know of other tribal courts whose opinions are available online, please send me a note.


Print reporters

The table shows which tribes have opinions in the following print reporters:

  • Indian Law Reporter, KF8201.A3 I5 at Reference Area
    • Covers federal, state, and tribal courts, and occasionally administrative tribunals.
    • Began covering tribal courts in 1983, with stated intention of having cases on diverse issues from geographically diverse courts.
    • Duplicate set of 1974-1992 at Classified Stacks
    • Duplicate set of 1993-date at Clinical Law Program
    • Cited: ILR (in early volumes) or Indian L. Rep.
    • Publishes selected cases from selected tribal courts
      • Some tribal courts -- e.g., those of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, the Ho-Chunk Nation, and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe -- have many cases in almost every volume.
      • Other tribal courts have only occasional cases in scattered volumes.
    • The National Indian Law Library maintains a topical index to the tribal court decisions in Indian Law Reporter.
    • In table below, "ILR" plus a two-digit year indicates that at least one case from that tribe was published in that year.
  • West's American Tribal Law Reporter, KF8204.5 .W47 at Reference Area
    • cited: Am. Tribal Law
    • more information here
  • Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals Reporter (SWITCA) KF8220 .A515 S68 at Reference Area
  • Tribal Court Appellate Decisions: Northwest Intertribal Court System (v. 1-5) and Tribal Appellate Court Opinions: Northwest Regional Appellate Courts (v. 6- ), KF8220.A515 at Reference Area.
    • cited: NICS App.
    • covers courts of appeals administered by Northwest Intertribal Court System 1988-date.
    • Publication in print ceased with volume 9 (2009-10).
    • All volumes, including v. 10-date are here.

 


 

Courts listed in table

Tribes' names

The sources are inconsistent in how they list the tribes. For instance, the Westlaw directory refers to "Fort Peck Tribes," while VersusLaw's source list has "Fort Peck Tribal Court -- Assinboine and Sioux Tribe (MT)."

To have one consistent way to list tribes, I referred to Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs, 77 Fed. Reg. 47,874 (Aug. 10, 2012).  There the Fort Peck Tribes are listed as "Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Montana."

The names in the federal list may differ from the names tribes use for themselves.

Intertribal Courts, Court of Indian Offenses

Some tribes' appeals go to regional courts. When possible, I list the tribe where the case originated rather than the regional court -- for instance, a Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux case heard by the Intertribal Court of Appeals would be listed as Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux. Actually, applying the Federal Register name, it would be listed as Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation (SD).

Similarly, a case from the Court of Indian Offenses, Lovelock Paiute Tribe would be listed as Lovelock Paiute Tribe (NV).


 

Tribal court directories

April Schwartz & Mary Jo B. Hunter, United States Tribal Courts Directory (3d ed. 2008), KF8224.C6 S39 2008 at Reference Office) provides:

  • addresses and phone numbers
  • names of staff (court administrators, judges)
  • description of courts' jurisdiction (in tribes with more than one court, this includes jurisdiction of trial court, appellate court, gaming disputes court, etc.)
  • other information, which may include (depending on the tribe listed):
    • qualifications to be a judge
    • qualifications to be admitted to practice
    • availability of a public defender service
    • sources of decisions
    • availability of tribal code

 

Tribal court websites

The Tribal Court Clearinghouse includes a directory of tribal court websites.

It is rare for a tribe's website to include tribal court opinions. A few offer sample forms for common actions (e.g., name change, divorce).


 

SOURCES OF TRIBAL COURT DECISIONS

Tribe

Source(s)

Ak Chin Indian Community of the Maricopa (Ak Chin) Indian
Reservation
SWITCA
Apache Tribe of Oklahoma

ILR 91

Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation (MT)

Fort Peck Tribal Court website (1986-date)
ILR 84, 85, 89, 93, 00, 01, 03, 10
LexisNexis (1984-2004)
VersusLaw (1986-date)
Westlaw FORTPECK-CS* (1997-date)

Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Indians (WI)

ILR 90

Blackfeet Tribe (MT)

ILR 83, 84, 90

Burns Paiute Tribe (OR)

ILR 94, 95, 98
NICS App.

Chehalis Tribe -- see Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation (WA)

Cherokee Nation (OK)

Cherokee Courts' website (1978-date) (Registration is required, but it's free.)
Am. Tribal Law (1997-date)
LexisNexis (1978-date)
Westlaw CHRKEE-OK-CS* (1997-date)

Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes (OK)

Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes website
ILR 91, 94

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (SD)

ILR 83-87, 89-02, 04-07, 09-11, 13
Am. Tribal Law (2001-date)
Westlaw CRSIOUX-CS* (2001-date)

Chilkat Indian Village (AK)

ILR 92, 93

Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana

ILR 96-01, 03
LexisNexis (1994, 1996-2001, 2003)
VersusLaw (1994-date)

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

ILR 96, 97

Citizen Potawatomi Nation (OK)

ILR 88, 90, 02

Cocopah Tribe of Arizona SWITCA
Coeur d'Alene Tribe (ID)

ILR 96, 11, 12

Colorado River Indian Tribes of the Colorado Indian Reservation (AZ, CA)

ILR 83-85
SWITCA

Colville -- see Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (WA)
Comanche Nation (OK)

ILR (90-92)
SWITCA

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe of the Flathead Reservation (MT)

ILR 83, 87-89, 90, 92, 95-05, 07
LexisNexis (1989-2003)
NICS App.
Univ. of Montana Law Library
Am. Tribal Law (1997-date)
Westlaw CSKT-CS* (1997-date)

Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (WA)

ILR 92, 93

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon

ILR 89, 97

Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation (WA)

ILR 93, 95
NICS App.
LexisNexis (2013-date)

Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (WA)

ILR 83, 84, 86-91, 93-10, 12-13
Am. Tribal Law
LexisNexis (1981-86, 1988- )
VersusLaw (1981-date)
Westlaw COLVILLE-CS* (1997)

Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon Tribes' website (2006-08)
LexisNexis (2006-date)

Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community (OR)

ILR 91, 92, 00, 01, 04-07
VersusLaw (1991-date)
Am. Tribal Law (1999-date)
LexisNexis (1991-92, 1999-2005, 2007)
Westlaw GRRONDE-CS* (1999-date)

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (OR)

ILR 89, 91-93, 99

Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon

ILR 89, 90, 95

Coquille Tribe of Oregon

ILR 99, 04
LexisNexis (1999, 2003-04, 2009-10)
VersusLaw (1999-date)
Am. Tribal Law

Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana

VersusLaw (2000-date)
LexisNexis (2000-01)

Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of the Crow Creek Reservation (SD) ILR 85, 91-94

Crow Tribe of Montana

Crow Court of Appeals website (1986, 1996-2002)
ILR 83, 84, 86-89, 94, 98-00
Univ. of Montana Law Library

LexisNexis (1986-2002)
VersusLaw (1986-date)

Delaware Tribe of Indians (OK) (One or more entries might be confused with Delaware Nation (OK).) ILR 90-92
Devils Lake Sioux -- see Spirit Lake Tribe (ND)
Duckwater Shoshone Tribe (NV)

ILR 98, 00, 01

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina

ILR 94, 06
LexisNexis (2000-date)
VersusLaw
Westlaw CHEROKEE-NC-CS* (2000-date)

Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota

ILR 93

Forest County Potawatomi Community (WI)

ILR 01

Fort Belknap Indian Community of the Fort Belknap Reservation of Montana

ILR 84

Fort Berthold -- see Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (ND)
Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes (NV, OR)

ILR 89, 93, 97

Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation (AZ)

ILR 00, 01
VersusLaw (1999-date)
Am. Tribal Law (2001-date)
LexisNexis (1999-2004)
Westlaw FMYAVAPAI-CS* (2001-date)

Fort Mohave Indian Tribe of Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada

ILR 83, 84, 99
SWITCA

Fort Peck Tribes -- see Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation (MT)
Grand Portage Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe

ILR 01

Grand Ronde -- see Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community (OR)

Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (MI)

ILR 89-91, 93, 98
Am. Tribal Law
Westlaw GTBTRIB-CS (1997-date)
LexisNexis (2013-date)

Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin

Ho-Chunk Nation website

ILR 96-03, 05-09
Am. Tribal Law (1997-date)
Westlaw HOCHUNK-CS* (1997-date)
LexisNexis (19995, 1997, 2012)

Hoh Tribe (WA)

ILR 88, 94, 95, 98
NICS App.

Hoopa Valley Tribe (CA)

ILR 83-85, 92, 94-98
NICS App.

Hopi Tribe of Arizona

For a time, the Hopi Judicial Branch website covered cases from (1984-). Site was down when visited in 2010, 2012. As of Jan. 7, 2015, this page for the Judicial Branch says to check back for more information.
ILR 86, 87, 89, 94, 95, 98-00
VersusLaw (1981-date)
Am. Tribal Law (1997-date)
Westlaw HOPI-CS* (1997-date)
LexisNexis (1981, 1989-91, 1995-2002)

Hualapai Indian Tribe of the Hualapai Indian Reservation, Arizona

Versuslaw (2007-date)
LexisNexis (2007-09)
SWITCA

Inter-Tribal Court of Appeals of Nevada Westlaw ITCN-CS* (1997-date)
Jicarilla Apache Nation (NM)

ILR 91

Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians (AZ)

ILR 99, 00
SWITCA

Kalispel Indian Community (WA)

ILR 89, 93
NICS App.

Karuk Tribe of California

ILR 05

Kaw Nation (OK)

ILR 95, 03

Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma

ILR 93

Kootenai Tribe of Idaho

ILR 93, 98
NICS App.

Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (WI)

ILR 89, 98

Las Vegas Tribe of Paiute Indians of the Las Vegas Indian Colony (NV)

ILR 02, 03

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (MI)

ILR 00, 01, 08
Am. Tribal Law
LexisNexis (1998-date)
Westlaw LRBOI-CS* (1998-)

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (MI) Little Traverse Bay Bands' website (1998-)
Am. Tribal Law
LexisNexis (1999-date)
Westlaw LTBBODAWA-CS* (1998-)
Lovelock Paiute Tribe (NV)

ILR 88, 89

Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (SD)

ILR 83

Lower Elwha Tribal Community of the Lower Elwha Reservation (WA)

ILR 92, 95, 99
NICS App.

Lower Sioux Indian Community in the State of Minnesota

ILR 08

Lummi Tribe (WA)

ILR 89, 92-95, 98, 03

NICS App.

Makah Indian Tribe (WA)

VersusLaw (2001-date)
LexisNexis (2001-02)

Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Connecticut

ILR 95-13
VersusLaw (1992-date)
West's Mashantucket Pequot Reports (1992-date) (not in Gallagher Law Library)
Westlaw MASHPEQ-CS* (1992-date)
LexisNexis (1992-2013)

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin

ILR 90-94, 97

Metlakatla Indian Community, Annette Island Reserve (AK)

ILR 87, 89

NICS App.

Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida

ILR 95, 96

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma

ILR 95

Minnesota Chippewa Tribe

Am. Tribal Law
LexisNexis (1998-date) (Mille Lacs Band)
Westlaw LEECHLAKE-CS* (2002-) (Leech Lake Band)
Westlaw MILLELACS-CS* (1998-) (Mille Lacs Band) (only two cases of of Jan. 2015)

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MS)

ILR 92, 96, 01, 10

Mohegan Indian Tribe of Connecticut

ILR 98, 02, 04-07, 09, 10, 12
VersusLaw (1997-date)
Am. Tribal Law (1997-date)
Westlaw MOHEGAN-CS* (1997-date)
LexisNexis (1997-2005, 2008, 2010, 2012)

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe (WA)

ILR 89

NICS App.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation (OK)

ILR 90, 98, 05
LexisNexis (2009-date)

Native Village of Karluk (AK) ILR 11

Navajo Nation (AZ, NM, UT)

ILR 83, 84, 87-03
Navajo Reporter
(1969-1987) KF8228.N3 A5 at Classified Stacks (5 volumes)
Navajo Supreme Court website (2006-date)
VersusLaw (1970-date)
Am. Tribal Law (1997-date)
Westlaw NAVAJO-CS* (1997-date)
LexisNexis (1969-75, 1977-13)

Nez Perce Tribe (ID)

ILR 93-95, 09

Nisqually Indian Tribe (WA)

NICS App.

Nooksack Tribe (WA)

NICS App.

Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation (MT)

ILR 85, 88

Northern Plains Intertribal Court of Appeals -- see also individual tribes (Crow Creek Sioux, Omaha, Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux, Spirit Lake, Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Winnebago LexisNexis (1981-date)
Oglala Sioux Tribe (SD)

ILR 83, 84, 89, 92, 01, 10-11

Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico (previously listed in Fed. Reg. as the Pueblo of San Juan)
SWITCA

Oklahoma Tribal Courts (CFR or tribal courts in Oklahoma, including the tribal courts, Courts of Indian Appeals, and Courts of Indian Offenses)

-- see also individual tribes in Oklahoma (Apache, Cheyenne & Arapaho, Choctaw, Citizen Potawatomi, Comanche, Delaware, Kaw, Kiowa, Miami, Muscogee, Pawnee, Ponca, Sac and Fox, Tonkawa, Wichita and Affiliated Tribes

Oklahoma Tribal Court Reports (Oklahoma City U.) (not in Gallagher Law Library)
Westlaw OKTRIB-CS* (1979-date)

Omaha Tribe of Nebraska ILR 93, 94

Oneida Nation of New York

ILR 01
LexisNexis (1992-date)

Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin VersusLaw (1992-date)
Westlaw ONEIDA-WI-CS* (1997-)
Paiute-Shoshone Tribes (of the Bishop Community, of the Fallon Reservation and Colony, et al.) (NV)

ILR 92-94, 97, 98

Passamaquoddy (ME)

VersusLaw (1985-date)
LexisNexis (1985-date)

Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma

ILR 05, 10

Penobscot Tribe of Maine

ILR 91-94

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians (MI, IN) Pokagon Band's website (2004-date)
Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma ILR 90, 94
Port Gamble Indian Community of the Port Gamble Reservation of Washington

ILR 94, 95
NICS App.

Pueblo of Acoma (NM)

ILR 98

Pueblo of Isleta, New Mexico SWITCA
Pueblo of Laguna (NM) ILR 12
Pueblo of Nambe, New Mexico SWITCA
Pueblo of Pojoaque (NM)

ILR 97-99, 01, 03, 10

Pueblo of Santa Ana (NM)

ILR 87

Pueblo of Santa Clara, New Mexico SWITCA

Puyallup Tribe of the Puyallup Reservation of Washington

ILR 83, 84, 93, 94, 99
NICS App.
VersusLaw (1982-date)
LexisNexis (1982-date)

Quileute Tribe of the Quileute Reservation of Washington

ILR 93

NICS App.

Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation (SD)

ILR 85-89, 91-93, 96, 98-00, 07

Sac and Fox Nation (OK)

Am. Tribal Law (1998-date)
Westlaw SACFOX-CS* (1998-date)

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (MI)

ILR 97, 00, 05, 07

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (NY)

ILR 94
VersusLaw (1996-date)
LexisNexis (1996-date)

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community of the Salt River Reservation (AZ)

ILR 84, 85

Salish and Kootenai -- see Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe of the Flathead Reservation (MT)
Samish Indian Tribe (WA) NICS App.
San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe of Arizona
SWITCA
Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe of Washington

NICS App.

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (MI)

ILR 94

Seneca Nation (NY)

ILR 96

Shoalwater Bay Tribe of the Shoalwater Bay Indian Reservation (WA)

ILR 89

NICS App.

Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation of Idaho

ILR 87-90, 95
NICS App.

Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation (NV)

ILR 93, 97

Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation (SD)

ILR 84, 88-91, 93, 94

Sitka Tribe of Alaska

ILR 86, 97

Skokomish Indian Tribe of the Skokomish Reservation (WA)

ILR 94
NICS App.

Southern Ute Indian Tribe of the Southern Ute Reservation (CO)

ILR 89-92, 94-97
SWITCA

Spirit Lake Tribe (ND) (formerly known as Devils Lake Sioux Tribe)

ILR 91-94, 97, 01

Spokane Tribe of the Spokane Reservation (WA)

NICS App.

Squaxin Island Tribe of the Squaxin Island Reservation (WA)

ILR 83, 93, 95

NICS App.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota

ILR 83, 89, 90, 92, 93, 97, 98, 00, 02

St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin

ILR 99

Stillaguamish Tribe (WA)

NICS App.

Suquamish Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation (WA)

ILR 87, 94
NICS App.

Swinomish Indians of the Swinomish Reservation (WA)

ILR 94
NICS App.

Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (ND)

ILR 87, 90-94, 96-05, 08-10, 12

Tohono O'odham Nation of Arizona

ILR 89

Tonkawa Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma

ILR 93

Tonto Apache Tribe of Arizona SWITCA

Tulalip Tribes of the Tulalip Reservation (WA)

ILR 89, 94-98, 01, 08-10, 12-13
NICS App.
Am. Tribal Law (1997-date)**
Westlaw TULALIP-CS* (1997-date) (81 cases as of Jan. 2015)
LexisNexis (2011-date)

Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe (LA)

ILR 98
VersusLaw (1997-date)
LexisNexis (1997-date)

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (ND)

ILR 89-92, 95, 04, 05, 08, 12
VersusLaw (2001-date)
LexisNexis (2001-05)

Upper Skagit Tribe (WA)

NICS App.

Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation (UT) ILR 83, 86
Ute Mountain Tribe of the Ute Mountain Reservation, Colorado, New Mexico & Utah
SWITCA
Walker River Paiute Tribe of the Walker River Reservation

ILR 94-97

Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (Wichita, Keechi, Waco, and Tawakonie) (OK)

ILR 91, 93

Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

ILR 92-01, 03, 07, 09, 12

Yakama Nation -- see Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (WA)
Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe SWITCA
Yomba Shoshone Tribe of the Yomba Reservation (NV)

ILR 00

Yurok Tribe of the Yurok Reservation (CA)

ILR 00

NICS App.

Zuni Tribe of the Zuni Reservation, New Mexico
SWITCA

 

* Not available on academic Westlaw contract. But you can use WestlawNext to help you find cases in print.

** Westlaw scope indicates coverage begins in 1997, but the only case in the print reporter, as of Jan. 2010, is from 2009.

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