The U.S. Justice Department has awarded the Tlingit and Haida Central Council nearly $900,000 to expand tribal court services.
Currently, the court hears paternity and child support cases involving tribal members. Attorney Jessie Archibald with Tlingit and Haida’s Child Support Unit says the grant will eventually allow the court to hear domestic violence cases.
The Central Council was one of 20 Alaska Native organizations to receive a grant under the Justice Department’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance program this year.
Archibald says the council’s Judiciary Committee will use the money to develop codes governing family violence cases, and work on a cooperative justice agreement with the State of Alaska. Funds will also be used to update court computers and develop a video conferencing system.
Eddie Brakes, Manager of Tlingit and Haida’s Tribal Child Support Unit, says the goal is to offer a more “holistic” approach to tribal member victims of domestic abuse.
The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is the sovereign tribal government for more than 27,000 Tlingit and Haida Indians worldwide. Its judicial branch includes three elected judges and a magistrate.
Earlier this year, the Alaska Supreme Court recognized tribal court authority in child welfare cases in its decision in the case State of Alaska vs. Native Village of Tanana.