Tribal Justice

Inst. Price: $450
Site Price:
Home Price:

» Request Preview Access

Subjects: Addictions, American Studies, Anthropology, At Risk Youth, Community, Human Rights, Law, Mental Health Issues, Social Justice, Sociology, Women's Studies

Grade Level: JrH-Adult
Producer: Bullfrog Films
Closed Captioned: Yes
Running Time: 87 mins
Country of Origin: United States
Study Guide: Yes, see links below.

Copyright Date: 2017
Available in French: No

TRIBAL JUSTICE is a feature documentary about a little known, underreported but effective criminal justice reform movement in America today: the efforts of tribal courts to create alternative justice systems based on their traditions. In California, the state with the largest number of Indian people and tribes, two formidable Native American women are among those leading the way. Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe on the northwest coast, and Claudette White, Chief Judge of the Quechan Tribe in the southeastern desert, are creating innovative systems that focus on restoring rather than punishing offenders in order to keep tribal members out of prison, prevent children from being taken from their communities, and stop the school-to-prison pipeline that plagues their young people.

Abby Abinanti is a fierce, lean, elder. Claudette White is younger, and her courtroom style is more conventional in form; but like Abby, her goal is to provide culturally relevant justice to the people who come before her. Observational footage of these judges' lives and work provides the backbone of the documentary, while the heart of the film follows offenders as their stories unfold over time, in and out of court. These other stories unfold over time, engaging viewers with the dedication of the judges, the humanity of the people who come before them, and a vision of justice that can actually work.

Through the film, audiences will gain a new understanding of tribal courts and their role in the survival of Indian people. The film will also inspire those working in the mainstream legal field to consider new ways of implementing problem-solving and restorative justice, lowering our staggering incarceration rates and enabling offenders to make reparations and rebuild their lives. 

"Raw and honest, Tribal Justice takes an unflinching look at criminal justice in Indian country...Alongside a fearless portrayal of reservation life and those caught up in the criminal justice system, this film highlights the potentially redemptive force of restorative justice in tribal communities. It's not to be missed."
- Angela R. Riley, Professor of Law, Director of Native Nations Law and Policy Center, University of California, Los Angeles

DVD Features
DVD includes SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.

National Broadcast on PBS's "POV"
Directing Award, Cinetopia Film Festival
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Port Townsend Film Festival 

Links: - film's study guide - film's discussion guide

Related Titles Clip Producer
Return, The Bullfrog Films
Incarcerating US Bullfrog Films