The Justice Programs Office is celebrating National Drug Court Month by sharing the personal perspectives of those who work in the treatment court field. Lauren van Schilfgaarde, Tribal Law Specialist at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, continues our series with a look at Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts and their ability to heal both addictions and communities.
The modern tribal court is not an organic indigenous system. It is, in part, a product of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934, a federal statute that rejected prior federal Indian policies of assimilation and land loss and promoted the reestablishment of tribal governments. Yet, the implementation of the Act meant tribal governmental structures needed to look and sound like Anglo institutions rather than traditional tribal ones. Furthered by the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, the typical tribal court mirrors the American adversarial system, complete with a focus on incarceration and poor recidivism rates.