Tribal Law Attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, there are five major Native American tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, and several others. These Indian Tribes, as U.S. law still refers to them, are allowed a special kind of sovereignty to govern themselves, subject to overriding federal authority. Congress legislated this sovereignty to protect Indian groups from potentially oppressive state authority.
Included in this sovereignty is the right to establish tribal courts, which can adjudicate matters relating to Indian affairs. These courts’ authority was restricted in a 1978 Supreme Court decision that ruled that tribes do not have the legal authority to prosecute non-Indians who are conducting business or another activity on a reservation unless the activity threatens the welfare of the tribe.
If you are a Native American looking for legal representation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, whether the case is subject to tribal jurisdiction, state jurisdiction, or both, contact me at the Military Law Group. My experience embraces both criminal and civil legal actions, including criminal defense, divorce, paternity, child support, and property and debt issues, to list a few. I possess the resources and experience to represent you in tribal and state courts.
WHAT IS TRIBAL LAW?
There are approximately 500 trial justice systems throughout the United States. These courts are partially funded by Tribal Priority Allocations (TPAs) authorized by Public Law 638. In addition, Title 25 of the United States Code mandates the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to provide training, technical support, and funding, when available, to all tribal courts, though the BIA does not manage the courts,
18 U.S. Code Section 1511 grants tribal court jurisdiction over lands defined as “Indian country.” Indian country includes reservation lands, dependent Indian communities, and Indian allotments. The tribal courts can try Indians on their territory for misdemeanors, but felonies under federal law must be referred to a federal court. If a non-Indian commits a crime on Indian land, that person will usually be brought before a state court.
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Indian Tribal Constitutions govern the procedures of the court system and delineate the rights of defendants. Tribal rights and procedures are also governed by federal law, including the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA). Punishments can include labor, imprisonment, and or the payment of court costs and fines, as set by tribal governance.
Generally speaking, tribal courts have civil jurisdiction over Indians and non-Indians who reside or do business on federal Indian reservations. Civil matters that the tribal courts preside over include divorce, guardianship, custody, child support, determination of paternity, name change, business contracts, personal injury, probate of non-trust property, and addition to other civil disputes.
GENERAL COUNSEL FOR
NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES
The Military Law Group is experienced in several relevant areas of the law, including business law, family law, estate planning, civil litigation, personal injury, and criminal defense. I, attorney Scott B. Goode, am a certified Native American Lawyer, and I can help you in tribal court or state court. Also, the other attorneys on staff can seek to advise and guide you on civil and criminal matters.
Though tribal courts have broad civil legal authority on their lands, sometimes state courts get involved in issues of divorce, child support, parentage, guardianships, and the like. In these cases of family law, you might also have an action brought against you in state court. Your rights are a little different in each system, and I can help you navigate the different proceedings.
If you are a trial member seeking a divorce, paternity case, or child support, we should discuss the pros and cons of using the tribal justice system and whether you should opt for the state system.
If you are seeking custody or adoption of a Native American child, you need to know the requirements and limitations of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The ICWA was passed in 1978 in the wake of a high number of Native American children being separated from their parents, families, and communities by state child welfare agencies and private adoption agencies.
The ICWA enacted added protections for Native children and placed new requirements on caseworkers to notify the child’s parents and the tribe of any child custody proceedings.
If you’ve been injured on tribal territory, you cannot sue the tribal nation itself – it enjoys immunity in almost all cases. You can bring a lawsuit against an individual or a person, however. If you are suing or being sued for personal injury in Indian Country, contact me so I can explain the legal requirements and the proper strategy aiming toward the best result possible.
Of course, if you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor and are set to stand trial in a tribal court, you will need experienced legal representation for your criminal defense. I can also handle many business issues with you, including business formation and compliance issues with employment laws and regulations as they may apply to Indian Country.