U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Expanding the Tribal Court's Jurisdiction by the Creation of Ordinances and Integration of Traditional Peacemaking Practices

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $900,000)

The jurisdiction of the Cher-Ae-Heights Indian Community Tribal Court, and by extension the incorporation of culture in the justice system, is constrained by the lack of ordinances. There are only six ordinances assigning jurisdiction to the tribal court. The court is a limited jurisdiction court, with authority to hear different subject matter derived through ordinances. This results in the jurisdiction of the court covering only a fraction of the jurisdiction asserted by the tribe in the constitution. The community needs assessment, and multiple tribal court assessments have identified as problematic the lack of ordinances providing tribal court jurisdiction. This is echoed in the requests of tribal members for the court to hear a particular case, but without an ordinance, they must be referred to state court. The community has also identified the incorporation of the culture and traditions of the tribe into all programs, including the justice system. The tribe has a peacemaking panel, and two ordinances expressly include a means of traditional dispute resolution. The Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria seeks funding for the expansion of tribal court jurisdiction and integration of the culture and traditions of the tribe. The tribe will use the funds for two main purposes: (1) Expansion of the tribal court’s jurisdiction with the development and implementation of new ordinances and revision of current ordinances. (2) Fully implement peacemaking into all tribal laws and pass on the knowledge to tribal youth. The retention of core tribal court staff and peacemakers is included within these purposes.

Date Created: September 28, 2023