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ERIC Number: EJ1081506
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Nov
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1052-5505
A Human Rights Crisis in Indian Country
Vigil, Chris
Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education, v27 n2 Nov 2015
There is a human rights crisis in Indian Country. This crisis--one of many--is the result of an almost universal lack of legal representation of Native people when they appear as defendants in tribal courts. The lack of lay advocates and attorneys representing Native defendants creates tremendous problems for tribal members who find themselves in civil or criminal court. In many instances, tribal members who find themselves in tribal court are the only Natives who are party to the proceedings. It is common that the judge and both attorneys are non-Native. In a criminal proceeding, the prosecuting officer is very often non-Native. When the plaintiff is a predatory lender seeking a judgment against a Native defendant, they are virtually certain to be non-Native. When a Native parent who has fallen behind on child support is subject to collection and incarceration by the State, the enforcement attorney is reliably non-Native. When a tribal member is convicted of a crime, any jail time is typically served in a state or federal detention center housing mostly non-Natives and staffed by non-Natives. Loss in a civil suit can mean garnishment of small income that can push a Native family further into poverty. Conviction and incarceration devastates Native families, with the defendant suffering not just the penalty itself, but also loss of a job, likely default on any financial obligation, growing arrears of child support payments, and separation from loved ones. Native defendants must have affordable advocates, lay or attorney, when they face civil or criminal proceedings in tribal courts. Even better, the advocates should be Native. Tribal colleges can help with this by developing new, and strengthening existing, advocate training and pre-law programs.
Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education. P.O. Box 720, Mancos, CO 81328. Tel: 888-899-6693; Fax: 970-533-9145; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A