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 court system
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.
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.