National Tribal Justice Resource Center

A project of the National American Indian Court Judges Association

Welcome to the National Tribal Justice Resource Center! The Resource Center is the central national clearinghouse of information for Native American and Alaska Native tribal justice systems. Here you will find numerous resources, including searchable databases of tribal court opinions, codes, and constitutions; a listing of available publications and legal templates; a training events calendar of seminars and conferences; funding opportunities; information about our programs and services; and more.

Our programs and services are offered to all tribal justice system personnel nationwide—whether working with a formalized court system or with a traditional tribal dispute resolution forum. This website is designed to assist and inform both court personnel and the public.

Who We Are

The culmination of years of advocacy and work to fulfill the dream of providing a source of daily support and assistance to tribal justice systems nationwide, the National Tribal Justice Resource Center was established by the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA) under a one-year grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the U.S. Department of Justice on September 1, 2000.

Tribal justice systems are the most visible manifestations of tribal sovereignty. The Resource Center assists tribes in strengthening their self-government methods and improving the climate within tribal lands for economic prosperity by offering tools to enhance tribal justice systems. By offering a broad scope of technical assistance services, the Resource Center provides genuine and practical benefits to every American Indian and Alaska Native justice system in the United States.

Location and Staff

The Resource Center is located at 3333 Iris Avenue, Suite 101, Boulder, Colorado. Our staff is composed of experienced Native American tribal court judges and court administrators—offering broad national tribal justice systems expertise. NAICJA’s Board of Directors has established a Management and Oversight Committee composed of tribal court judges, tribal court personnel, and tribal justice system resource developers to oversee and advise the Resource Center Staff.

Strength Through Collaboration

Representing the first time that many key organizations that provide training and technical assistance to Native American and Alaska Native tribal justice systems are working together to coordinate service delivery and assess the need for new resources and services, the Resource Center is at the hub of a powerful network. Sixteen organizations have joined together as Collaborating Partners with NAICJA to support and contribute to the Resource Center.

A representative of each of the Collaborating Partners, plus other individuals and organizations with expertise in tribal justice issues, resource center development, Indian law, and court technology, serve on a Project Advisory Committee, which assists and advises the Resource Center.

The Resource Center also serves as the primary technical assistance provider for those American Indian and Alaska Native Nations that have received enhancement grants under the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Indian Tribal Courts Program established under the Indian Country Law Enforcement Initiative.


The Resource Center provides a wide range of technical assistance services and resources relating to developing and enhancing American Indian and Alaska Native justice systems. Programs and services developed by the Resource Center are offered to all tribal justice system personnel—whether working with formalized tribal courts or with tradition-based tribal dispute resolution forums.

The Resource Center also provides its visitors with a comprehensive and searchable database of legal documents and templates that can be used for various purposes, including health care, employment, financial, and vehicle-related matters. We’ve focused on state-specific documents since most paperwork should be prepared in compliance with state regulations. Look through the forms below to find the necessary templates and complete the documentation.

New York State PDF Forms

If you are a New York State resident, you will likely need to fill out various forms to comply with state requirements. These forms may include a health care proxy form, certificate of dissolution, or accident report. As a business owner in New York, you may also be required to file various state forms, such as a power of attorney or employer registration form. Preparing such forms can be confusing, especially if you have never done it before. Fortunately, we have compiled all the relevant templates here so that you can find the correct form and submit it quickly. Keep in mind that some forms may have specific requirements, so read the instructions carefully.

Ohio PDF Forms

Ohio authorities have a variety of forms that business owners and individuals may need to complete. For example, the property’s owner who wants to sell it is expected to prepare a disclosure form to inform the buyer about any hazards or overall condition. This section will tell you about some of the most common documents that Ohio residents should fill out, whether they are selling items, starting a new business, or just need to file their taxes.

Oklahoma PDF Forms

In order to comply with Oklahoma state laws, businesses and individuals must file various forms related to, for example, sales and use tax returns or wage statements. Also, you will have to prepare a state-specific residential lease application to apply for a tenancy successfully in Oklahoma. This section has the most common templates—you will only need to select yours and fill it out. By familiarizing yourself with these forms, you can save time and avoid costly mistakes.

Oregon PDF Forms

The following forms are designed to make it easier for Oregon residents to apply for various state services. A person should use a DMV accident report if their car gets in an accident. However, this form has particular requirements individuals must comply with before submitting the document. There are also a worker’s compensation form and teacher application that may come in handy in different circumstances. If you are a resident of Oregon, make sure to take advantage of these templates. The process is simple and can be completed in just minutes.

Pennsylvania PDF Forms

This section provides the residents of Pennsylvania with all of the essential state-related forms. The most common form is the Income Tax Return (Form PA-40), which reports a person’s income and taxes. Other forms that you may need to file include a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement, Formal Notice of Intention to File Claim, New Hire Reporting Form, and Driver’s Accident Report. With such a large selection of downloadable forms, you’re sure to find what you need.

Other State-Specific PDF Forms

Depending on your state, there may be specific requirements to fill out and submit this or that legal form. As a result, it’s vital to check your state laws while writing any legal document constantly. This is especially true when preparing prenuptial agreements or divorce contracts. Below, you’ll also discover templates related to operating agreements, tax exemption, and claim checklists.

PDF Forms for Vehicles

Vehicle forms are an important part of everyday life. Whether you’re registering a new car, renewing your registration, or transferring a title, there are a number of forms you may need to complete. Here, we’ve gathered different templates of an odometer disclosure statement. If you want to sell your vehicle, you will have to provide the buyer with this document. Valid odometer disclosure is crucial to complete the transaction successfully.

PDF Application Forms

In order to be considered for a job, most employers require a person to complete an application form. These forms can be lengthy and time-consuming to complete, but they are an essential part of hiring. However, application forms can come in handy not only when you’re looking for a job. They may also be used to apply for rental property, a study in college or university, or a passport.

PDF Checklists

Checklists are essential documents helping streamline your workflow. They can be helpful in several situations, from starting a new job to making purchases. The following templates include a nursing competency checklist (to assess nursing skills), operating room competency checklist (to assess operating room equipment and procedures), and workplace inspection checklist (to assess workplace safety).

PDF Notices

Notices are used to alert someone about something. Frequently, these documents come in handy when landlords need to inform their tenants about lease agreement violations or tenancy termination. A landlord can also use a notice to warn a tenant that another person will be entering the property. However, not only landlords or tenants benefit from this type of documentation. Notices are also used to notify employees about employment termination or remind drivers to inspect their vehicles.

PDF Order Forms

Order forms are a crucial part of any business. They allow customers to place orders for the products or services they need. There are a variety of different order forms available below, and each one has its own advantages. They provide customers with a way to put their requests in writing, and they help you keep track of what’s been ordered and when it’s expected to arrive.

Other PDF Forms

If you’ve reached this section and not found the appropriate template, do not panic! This area has a lot more legal templates provided by state and local authorities. For example, you can find the forms provided by the US Department of Labor (Form OWCP-915 or Claim for Medical Reimbursement) or the New York City Major’s Office of Contract Services (Doing Business Data Form). All these templates are highly customizable and can be used in different situations.

Tribal Courts: Extension of Application Deadline

Eligible Applicants: A qualified applicant is a tribal government submitting an application for funding for a tribal court meeting the following threshold requirements:

  1. The tribal government has enacted the codes necessary for the tribal justice system to carry out its responsibility under 25 CFR part 115.
  2. The tribal court has adopted and made accessible the court rules setting forth the procedures to adjudicate these cases.
  3. Tribal court personnel has been trained to process these cases, and the court is staffed to fulfill the tribal legislative mandate.
  4. The tribal justice system serves as the judicial component of a tribal government that the United States Government federally recognizes.



Bureau of Indian Affairs


Funding is available to tribal courts (including CFR courts) that assume responsibility for adjudicating matters under 25 CFR part 115. Under part 115, tribal courts are responsible for appointing guardians, determining competency, awarding child support from Indian Individual Money (IIM) accounts, determining paternity, sanctioning adoptions, marriages, and divorces, making presumptions of death, and adjudicating claims involving trust assets.



Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention


Grantees will receive up to $100,000 in funding and training and technical assistance to reduce substance abuse among youth by addressing the factors in a community that serves to increase or decrease the risk of substance abuse and establish and strengthen the collaboration among communities, including Federal, State, local, and tribal governments and private nonprofit agencies, to support community coalition efforts to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth.

Comments Wanted

Here’s your chance to be heard! The 2002 Census of Tribal Justice Agencies in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Jurisdictions is the first comprehensive effort by the Department of Justice to document tribal justice agencies, the services they provide, and the capacity among American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to collect and report information on crime in their jurisdictions. Special emphasis will be made on identifying the tribal justice forums used to resolve disputes, tribal court services, personnel, law enforcement agencies, record-keeping methods, and crime reporting practices.

Tribal Justice Systems

 A Brief History of Tribal Courts

Since time immemorial, Native American and Alaska Native tribes have kept the peace and administered justice in their homelands by using their own ancient laws, traditions, and customs. Historically, the United States federal government has recognized the inherent sovereignty of Indian nations to make their own laws and be ruled by them. (Williams v. Lee, 358 U.S. 217, 1958.) Traditionally, most tribes resolved disputes and addressed criminal activity by consensus, not by an adversarial system, as do Anglo-Americans. While each of the more than 560 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. possesses traditional dispute resolution methods, formal court institutions are a relatively recent development in Indian Country.

The development of tribal courts as they are now known can be traced to a case arising in the 1880s on land that is now the Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota, when a Lakota tribal member, Crow Dog, killed a fellow tribal member, Spotted Tail. At the time, there was no formal court system utilized by the Lakota people. Utilizing traditional dispute resolution methods, the tribe required Crow Dog to provide restitution to Spotted Tail’s family in the form of goods and provisions. Although the victim’s family was satisfied with the resolution, in the eyes of the federal government, the tribal approach did not inflict what it thought was the appropriate punishment. Consequently, the Department of the Interior, the federal agency responsible for directing Indian affairs, set up the Court of Indian Offenses to handle less serious criminal offenses and resolve disputes between tribal members through the application of federal law and regulations-not tribal law or custom.

It was not until 1934, with the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act, that tribes were encouraged by the federal government to enact their own laws and establish their own justice systems. Many tribes, however, did not adopt their own codes at that time but instead operated under provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Due to a lack of financial resources, many smaller tribes could not afford to operate their own tribal courts and retained the CFR courts operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. There are approximately 23 CFR courts still in existence.

Approximately 275 Indian nations and Alaska Native villages have established formal tribal court systems. There is a wide variety of forums, and the law applied in each is distinctly unique to each tribe. Some tribal courts resemble Western-style judiciaries where written laws and rules of court procedure are applied. An increasing number of tribes are returning to their traditional means of resolving disputes through peacemaking, elders councils, and sentencing circles.

Each tribe, in developing its justice system, confronts three considerations:

  1. Is our justice system effective in reaching prompt, long-term resolutions to disputes?
  2. Does our system ensure the safety and well-being of our community by preventing crime?
  3. Does our justice system inspire confidence in its abilities to the tribal community and the outside American society?

To address all of these goals, many tribes establishing new tribal courts, or enhancing established ones, are developing hybrid or blended systems that will incorporate traditional dispute resolution elements that have proven effective within their culture and community while also ensuring that due process is provided.

The Indian Country Law Enforcement Initiative

On February 14, 1998, the U.S. The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics issued an alarming report entitled American Indians and Crime concerning the rising level of crime in Indian Country. BJS reported that while violent crime was on the decrease generally in the United States, violent crime on Indian reservations was more than twice the rate found in the rest of the nation. In response to this finding, the Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Janet Reno, and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, headed by Assistant Secretary Kevin Gover, brought the criminal justice needs of tribes to the attention of the U.S. Congress in the form of the Indian Country Law Enforcement Initiative (Initiative). The Initiative’s goal was to provide additional financial resources to tribes and federal agencies in an effort to turn the tide of violent crime in Indian Country.

Indian Tribal Courts Program

Understanding that increased law enforcement activity on reservations would impact already overburdened tribal justice systems, $5,000,000 was appropriated to establish the Indian Tribal Courts Program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). BJA announced in June 1999, as part of the Initiative, the availability of grants to support the development, enhancement, and continuing operation of tribal judicial systems. At the same time, grants to develop an extensive training and technical assistance program to serve the tribal court grantees and all other tribal judicial systems were also announced.

Forty-six tribes were awarded tribal court planning grants of $30,000 each. Six of those grants were awarded for the development of inter-tribal courts. Enhancement grants of up to $50,000 each were awarded to fifteen tribes, and larger grants of up to $100,000 were awarded to another fifteen tribes. A majority of the enhancement projects involve efforts to improve the processing of tribal court caseloads through case management computer software. Other funded projects include one or more of the following components: development or revision of tribal codes and/or rules of procedure; hiring of additional personnel such as prosecutors, criminal defense counsel, and judges; purchase of needed equipment such as recording systems and fireproof storage cabinets; law library materials and access to computerized legal research and training for tribal judges and court personnel.

In May of 2000, technical assistance grants were awarded to the Alaska Intertribal Council to work with planning grantees in the State of Alaska, the Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Institute to serve planning grantees in the lower 48 states, and NAICJA to assist tribes receiving enhancement grants and to establish a national tribal court resource center.

National Tribal Justice Resource Center

Unlike the federal and state judiciaries, tribal judiciaries have not had access to a national resource center to assist them with materials and guidance to help to improve the operation of tribal courts. The need for a tribal justice center was documented in the 1978 National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA) study entitled Indian Courts and the Future. The unmet need for a resource center was raised again in 1988 during testimony presented at the working conference on court systems in Indian Country and the U.S. Senate Select committee on Indian Affairs hearings on Indian tribal court systems and the Indian Civil Rights Act. In June of 1998, NAICJA’s Executive Committee again proposed the development of the resource center in a meeting with Attorney General Janet Reno. With the technical assistance grant awarded to NAICJA, the National Tribal Justice Resource Center (Resource Center) finally became a reality after decades of work and advocacy.

On September 1, 2000, the Resource Center opened its doors. It became a source of daily support and technical assistance to Native American and Alaska Native tribes to develop and enhance tribal justice systems. The Center initially shared office space with the National Indian Law Library (a project of the Native American Rights Fund) in Boulder, Colorado, but has now moved into its own offices at 3333 Iris Avenue in Boulder, CO.  For the first time in history, many of the key organizations that provide training and technical assistance to tribal justice systems will be working together to pool resources and assess the need for new ones.

NTJRC Services

Programs and services developed by the Resource Center are offered to all tribal justice system personnel—whether working with formalized tribal courts or with traditional tribal dispute resolution forums. The Resource Center provides several services and programs, including the following:

On-Site-Technical Assistance and Evaluation. This service is provided to a limited number of tribes based upon need, available resources, and objectives. Bureau of Justice Assistance Tribal Court Enhancement Grantees are given a higher priority, but other justice systems will be assisted whenever possible. There is no charge for this service; however, reimbursement for travel and related expenses may be requested in some instances. Technical assistance on-site can range from new court/justice system development to program evaluation to new justice programming, case management and records assistance, and much more.

If you think your justice system needs on-site technical assistance, please contact us directly. If you would like, you can print our Technical Assistance Services Request Form online and mail or fax it to us. You may submit an online Technical Assistance Services Request Form. Once your form has been submitted, the Resource Center staff will contact you promptly to discuss the type and scope of service, including the possibility of a joint approach with other technical assistance providers. If on-site services are indicated, and resources are available, they will be designed and scheduled in collaboration with the requesting official.

Lending a Helping Hand: The Tribal Justice System Mentor Project. This national project creates mentor partnerships by matching new and developing Native American and Alaska Native tribal justice systems with established, effective tribal courts to provide technical assistance to create and enhance these systems. This project builds on the already decades-old practice of tribal courts helping each other through the informal sharing of information, advice, and experiences. More information and a participation form can be found by clicking here.

Searchable Databases. The Resource Center has many searchable databases on this website that tribal justice system personnel may find helpful.  One database is devoted to Tribal Court Opinions and Tribal Codes and Constitutions.

Calendar of Seminars and Conferences. This calendar lists current information about training, seminars, and conferences that relate to tribal justice. In addition, you may post a tribal justice-related event on our site.

Tribal Judicial Resources. The Resource Center has many resources available online for tribal justice systems, including numerous publications; links to funding resources; a talking circle where questions, concerns, and suggestions can be posted and responded to; and links to other organizations and informational resources. In addition, many other judicial resources can be located and/or accessed by contacting the Resource Center directly.