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Tribal court system

National Survey of Tribal Court Systems (NSTCS)

​​​​​​The legal institutions in Indian country revolve around four main entities: indigenous or traditional courts, general jurisdiction courts, appellate courts, and the Bureau of Indian Affair’s Code of Federal Regulation courts. The National Survey of Tribal Court Systems (NSTCS) is the first complete enumeration of tribal court systems operating in the United States and gathers administrative and operational information from tribal court systems, prosecutors’ offices, and indigent defense providers operating in the United States.

Tribal Courts

The Indian Reorganization Act in 1934 recognized the right of tribes to enact their own laws and establish their own formal tribal courts. Some tribes have developed hybrid or blended judicial systems, incorporating a more formal focus to ensure due process and the dispute resolution elements of indigenous courts or Courts of Indian Offenses—Code of Federal Regulations, or CFR, courts operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Formal tribal courts, unlike the CFR courts, are under tribal control and are directly oriented to the needs of tribal members. 

Tribal Crime and Justice

The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (TLOA; P.L. 111-211, 124 Stat. 2258 § 251(b)) requires BJS to establish and implement a tribal crime data-collection system, and support tribal participation in national records and information systems. The Act specifies data collection and analysis of crimes committed on federally recognized reservations, in tribal communities, and on identified trust lands which in combination are commonly referred to as Indian country.

BJS FY 15 National Survey of Tribal Courts Systems (NSTSC-14)

Closing Date
The NSTCS, in combination with other planned and ongoing data collections, will fulfill BJS’s legislative mandate under the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act to “establish and implement such tribal data collection systems as the BJS Director determines to be necessary.” 42 U.S.C. § 3732(d)(2).

Tribal court

As defined in the Indian Tribal Justice Technical and Legal Assistance Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-559), the term "tribal court," "tribal court system," or "tribal justice system" means the entire judicial branch, and employees thereof, of an Indian tribe, including, but not limited to, traditional methods and fora for dispute resolution, trial courts, appellate courts, including inter-tribal appellate courts, alternative dispute resolution systems, and circuit rider systems, established by inherent tribunal authority whether or not they constitute a court of record.

Census of Tribal Justice Agencies in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Jurisdictions (CTJA02)

Includes data on the number of law enforcement agencies and officers; characteristics of tribal courts and their caseloads; types of available criminal sanctions; and criminal justice statistics data collection and sharing capacity. The census collected data from nearly 350 tribes in the continental U.S. and is the first comprehensive effort to identify the range of justice agencies operating in tribal jurisdictions, the services those agencies provide, and the types of information systems maintained