American Bar Association


Who We Are

Welcome to the Committee on Native American Concerns. This Committee works with the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice to harness the vast resources of the ABA to enhance the development of federal Indian law in a manner that supports tribal sovereignty and self-governance and furthers the federal trust responsibility and government-to-government relationship between Indian tribes and the United States. As such, the Committee is focused on trying to educate and inform elected officials and their staff, the federal judiciary and legal professionals on pressing issues of Indian law and policy from Indian gaming and self-governance to welfare and trust reform. For more information on the Committee's work, or to join the Committee, contact the Section office.

Related Publications

Human Rights Vol. 43 No. 1 - New Horizons in Indian Country? What Lies AheadHuman Rights Vol. 43, No. 1
New Horizons in Indian Country? What Lies Ahead

This issue of Human Rights magazine encompasses a variety of issues that arose out of the opening of the Gateway to the West.

Human Rights Vol. 40 No. 4 - Tribal Sovereignty: A New Era of Self-GovernanceHuman Rights Vol. 40, No. 4
Tribal Sovereignty: A New Era of Self-Governance

This edition of Human Rights magazine celebrates the fortieth anniversary of this legislation, which broke many bureaucratic shackles on tribal government, with articles by distinguished practitioners. These writers discuss some of the ways in which the policy is reflected in contemporary Indian affairs today.

In the News

35 Tribal Organizations, representing hundreds of Tribal Nations from across Indian Country, have issued a call to action to President Obama requesting immediate and decisive action to deescalate the conflict and halt the human and civil rights violations occurring out at Standing Rock. View the joint letter here.

On Tuesday, October 6, 2015, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Office on Violence Against Women of the U.S. Department of Justice offered a panel discussion with representatives from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona and Tulalip Tribes of Washington titled, “Implementing VAWA 2013: Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction.” The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 included a historic provision recognizing tribes’ inherent power to exercise “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction” (SDVCJ) over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit acts of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders in Indian country. For a handout on the VAWA 2013 Implementation Update, please click here.

For a link to a video recording from the event, please click here.

As of September 1, 2015, eight tribes have implemented SDVCJ over non-Indians under VAWA 2013. Together, they have made 42 SDVCJ arrests, resulting in 18 guilty pleas, 5 referrals for federal prosecution, 1 acquittal by jury, 12 dismissals, with 6 cases pending. None of the SDVCJ non-Indian defendants have appealed to federal court. Nearly 40 additional tribes have participated in the Inter-Tribal Working Group on Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (ITWG) and are in varying stages of preparing to implement SDVCJ. Twenty tribes report that they expect to implement SDVCJ in the next year.

Committee Special Advisor, Jerry Gardner, is the Director of the Tribal Law & Policy Institute, which – in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) – has been providing training and technical assistance to interested tribes.

For more information, please click here.

Resolutions, Reports, and Letters

Visit this page for a complete list of ABA reports, letters, and resolutions on Native American issues.

Committee Leadership


Ferguson-Bohnee, Patty
Gardner, Gerald
Message From The Chair


Saunooke, Robert
Strommer, Geoffrey
van Schilfgaarde, Lauren

Committee Roster  

Modified by Alli Kielsgard on September 20, 2017

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