Here, the Johnsons assert that the Tribal Court is dominated by the Tribe. They point to the tribal law stating that the Tribe has jurisdiction over the river and to the amount of the fine imposed against them. As discussed above, the Johnsons have failed to show that the Tribe does not have jurisdiction over the bed of the St. Joe River adjoining their property. Further, while the fine was large, it was only one-fifth of that authorized by the tribal code. CTC 44-24.01 (authorizing a fine of $500 per day for unlicensed encroachments). We hold that the Johnsons have failed to show that the Tribal Court was biased.
Further, the Johnsons had more than sufficient notice and opportunity to be heard in the Tribal Court. The record shows the Johnsons were informed of the proceedings on four occasions before default judgment was entered. Despite this, they elected to simply ignore the proceedings in Tribal Court. The Johnsons were not denied due process.
Here is the order in FMC Corp. v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes (D. Idaho):
News coverage here.
Whether a tribal court has jurisdiction to adjudicate employment claims by Arizona school district employees against their Arizona school district employer that operates on the Navajo reservation pursuant to a state constitutional mandate to provide a general and uniform public education to all Arizona children.
Lower court materials here.
Update: Arizona Amicus Brief [notably, no other state signed on with Arizona]
Here is the opinion in Window Rock School District v. Nez.
An excerpt from the court’s syllabus:
The panel held that it was “colorable or plausible” that the tribal adjudicative forum, the Navajo Nation Labor Commission, had jurisdiction because the claims arose from conduct on tribal land over which the Navajo Nation had the right to exclude nonmembers, and the claims implicated no state criminal law enforcement interests. Well-established exhaustion principles therefore required that the tribal forum have the first opportunity to evaluate its own jurisdiction, including the nature of the state and tribal interests involved.
Briefs and lower court materials here.
Our own Leah Jurss (MSU Law ’15, MSU Law Review EIC, White Earth Ojibwe) has published “Halting the Slide Down the Sovereignty Slope: Creative Remedies for Tribes Extending Civil Infraction Systems over Non-Indians” in the Rutgers Race and The Law Review.
The best option for tribes is to work towards building open communications with non-Indians residing on reservations, non-Indians visiting reservations, and state and local governments surrounding reservations. These communications can help to build trust between all parties and a base of empirical evidence showing the effectiveness of tribal civil infraction systems. It is imperative that tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians not be reduced any more than it currently is to ensure the continuing success and viability of tribal nations themselves. A tribal nation that does not have the ability to protect itself from harmful outside influences via its tribal courts has little ability to ensure the safety and security of its citizens, a priority of all sovereign nations.