Native Americans can face a unique set of challenges when navigating the legal system. Many state courts, and even state lawyers, are unfamiliar with the special laws that protect individual native sovereignty, from reserved treaty rights to the Indian Child Welfare Act.
The laws affecting Native Americans range from original treaty rights, acts of Congress, and tribal ordinances or regulation. State laws do not generally apply to tribal members on their reservations, though many attorneys and even judges do not understand this until it is explained to them. And when a native person is hailed into state court for a crime or a civil matter, there is no use pretending that systemic racial assumptions are not present. It is very important to carefully analyze each situation to ensure that the correct government is applying the correct law to a given situation.
Michelle Bostic went to law school specifically to study this area of law, and was employed in-house for tribal governments for many years. She regularly appears in tribal courts, and understands the importance of thoroughly researching each tribe’s unique laws and regulations. If you are defending yourself against state charges or navigating your own government’s bureaucracy, she is available to help you through the process.