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Restorative Justice and the Community: Tribal Justice

            Community, restoration, and balance: these are the goals and tenets of Peacemaking in tribal courts.[1]Peacemaking is centered on customary and traditional laws and the values of the community.[2]Through these values and traditional laws, Peacemaking courts reconnect individuals to their communities and the values within those communities.[3]The judge in a Peacemaking Court seeks to help the parties involved arrive at a solution without the use the punitive measures or reprimand.[4]The Peacemaking Court seeks to restore relationships, not to render judgement or assign fault to any one person.[5]

The film Tribal Justice documents the role of Peacemaking in the communities of two tribal court judges in California.[6]In the trailer of the film, the tribal court judge communicates and meaningfully interacts with those in the Peacemaking court.[7]Peacemaking is solution-oriented, and the purpose of Peacemaking is to help individuals restore their relationships to their community and those in their lives.[8]There are no stringent formalities or formal hierarchy between the parties and the judge as one might find in adversarial Western courts.[9]The goal of Peacemaking is not to punish or judge, but to empower individuals to strengthen and improve their relationship to their community through traditional law.[10]


Savanna Duran, 3L, is the Submissions Editor for the Tribal Law Journal. She enjoys reading the new articles submitted for publication and getting to know incoming TLJ board and staff. Savanna joined TLJ because she wanted tobe in theSouthwest Indian Law Clinic and thought that being on the journal would help her learn about Native American issues. 

She hopes to work with the Native American and Hispanic Communities as a practicing attorney, specifically in public interest law such as policy work and legislative issues.

Savanna was born and raised in Albuquerque and has started a family of her own. She has a supportive husband, Paul, and a beautiful, energetic baby boy, Sevastian, who is 3 years old. 

She is currently a member of the Native American Law Student Association and the Immigration Law Student Association on campus and has done an externship with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. Savanna came to the UNM School of Law because she liked the environment of the school and was interested in the well-known clinical program. As far as her experience with TLJ, she is impressed by the progress we have made and how well we have worked as a group.


[1]See generally, Tribal Justice (Vision Maker Media), http://www.pbs.org/pov/tribaljustice/ (last visited Mar. 11, 2019); Susan J. Butterwick, Timothy P. Connors, and Kathleen M. Howard, Tribal Court Peacemaking: A Model for the Michigan State Court System?, 94 Mich. B. J. 34, 35 at 36-37 (2015).

[2]Nicholas A. Robinson, Elizabeth Burleson, and Lin-Heng Lye, Introduction to Tribal Sovereignty. 3 Comparative Environmental Law and Regulation § 56A:2 (2018). 

[3]See generally Butterwick et. al., supranote 1, at 37. 

[4]Robinson et. al., supraat note 2. 

[5]Tribal Justice(Vision Maker Media), http://www.pbs.org/pov/tribaljustice/ (last visited Mar. 11, 2019); Butterwick et. al., supranote 1, at 37-38.

[6]Tribal Justice(Vision Maker Media), http://www.pbs.org/pov/tribaljustice/ (last visited Mar. 11, 2019)

[7]Id.

[8]See generally Tribal Justice(Vision Maker Media), http://www.pbs.org/pov/tribaljustice/ (last visited Mar. 11, 2019); Butterwick et. al., supranote 1, at 37-38.

[9]See generally Tribal Justice (Vision Maker Media), http://www.pbs.org/pov/tribaljustice/ (last visited Mar. 11, 2019); Jennifer Hendry, Melissa L. Tatum, Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples, and the Pursuit of Justice, 34 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. 352, 361-62 (2016). 

[10]See generally Tribal Justice(Vision Maker Media), http://www.pbs.org/pov/tribaljustice/ (last visited March 11, 2019); Robinson et. al., supranote 2. 

By Tribal Law Journal Blog

The Tribal Law Journal was established in fall 1998 for the purpose of promoting indigenous self-determination by facilitating discussion of the internal law of the world’s indigenous nations. The internal law of indigenous nations encompasses traditional law, western law adopted by indigenous nations, and a blend of western and indigenous law. Underscoring this purpose is the recognition that traditional law is a source of law.

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