This article explores the ways in which Indian tribal judges are constituting their tribe's unique culture through jurisprudential "weavings" in the realm of family dispute resolution. Part II describes the history of tribal courts in this country and the contemporary characteristics of many such judiciaries. In addition, Part II highlights the vast differences among modern tribal courts but also suggests that many tribes share common values regarding the cultural role of dispute resolution. Part III briefly explores the incorporation of custom and tradition into judicial decision making by tribal courts, including the methods by which traditions are proven and the difficulties inherent in a court's reliance on unwritten customary law. Part IV analyzes a range of published family law opinions from the judiciaries of diverse tribes, with an emphasis on issues as to which tribal law offers an approach or resolution that is distinct from that found in Anglo-American law. In particular, the prominent childrearing role of the extended family in the tradition of many Indian tribes offers a vivid contrast with the dominant society's emphasis on parental autonomy—recently reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Troxel v. Granville. The Supreme Court's constitutional approach in Troxel and contrasting decisions from several tribal courts are explored in detail in Part IV.
Barbara Ann Atwood,
Tribal Jurisprudence and Cultural Meanings of the Family,
79 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol79/iss3/3