Tribal Judicial Institute awarded $1.4 million

The School of Law's Tribal Justice Institute has been awarded a federal grant totaling more than $1.4 million. Acting Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford announced the award this week at the 15th Annual Four Corners Indian Country Conference in Colorado Springs.

The $1,420,000 grant from the federal Department of Justice will be used by the Tribal Judicial Institute to promote cooperation among tribal, federal and state courts, and to design and implement training activities aimed at improving operations of tribal justice activities.

"The Tribal Judicial Institute is the cornerstone of the School of Law's Northern Plains Indian Law Center," said Paul LeBel, UND Law School dean. "Under the leadership of Institute Director B.J. Jones, the Institute has established itself as the premier tribal court and judicial system training organization in the country. It is gratifying to see the federal funding continue to support the work of the Institute." For more information visit

In comments at the award ceremony, Morford said that effective tribal courts are essential to the appropriate and equal enforcement of the law by tribal governments.

"These funds not only represent assistance to the organizations receiving them," Morford said, "but also reflect the continued shared commitment between the Department of Justice and tribal governments to maintaining a strong criminal justice system in Indian Country."

The Tribal Courts Assistance Program, which sponsors these awards, is administered by the Office of Justice Programs, explains Jones, the Tribal Judicial Institute director. The organization benefits federally recognized tribal governments by providing federal resources to support the development, implementation, and enhancement of tribal judicial systems. More information can be found at

"We are once again proud to announce that it we have received this competitive grant to continue our lead role as the technical assistance provider and training coordinator for the Department of Justice's Tribal Court Assistance Program" Jones said. "The TCAP is the primary source of Department of Justice funding for Indian tribal justice systems throughout the United States. The Tribal Judicial Institute has been involved with the program since it was launched in 1998."

TJI has received six separate grants from the DOJ in excess of $8 million to assist Indian tribes in developing and enhancing their justice systems. TJI has worked with more than 300 Indian nations during this time ranging from the Native Village of Barrow on the Arctic tip of Alaska to the Seminole Nation in the Florida Everglades. The Institute also has operated a scholarship program for an additional 100 Indian tribes.

Over the past nine years, TJI has participated in over 300 training events for Indian tribes.

"TJI is proud to assist Indian tribes nationwide as they exercise their sovereign rights to provide for the safety and justice for their citizens," Jones said.

Jones said that TJI's successful ventures would not have been possible without the support of former UND law dean Jeremy Davis, former interim dean Candace Zierdt, and present dean Paul LeBel.

Jones added that the organization was also encouraged and supported over the years by the directors of the Northern Plains Indian Law Center, including Stacy Leeds, Matthew Fletcher, and Doreen Yellow Bird. The Institute was the brainchild of Indians Into Medicien (INMED) director Gene Delorme and was nurtured over the years by Northern Plains Indian Law Center advisory board members Patti Alleva and James Grijalva.