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Tribal Justice

The tribal courts both incorporate traditional values and hold up an example to the nation about the possibilities of alternative dispute resolution. [They] have much to offer to the tribal communities, and much to teach the other court systems operating in the United States.
          — The Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, former Supreme Court Justice

Two judges, two tribes, one goal: restoring justice.

2 Judges

Two Native American judges reach back to traditional concepts of justice in order to reduce incarceration rates, foster greater safety for their communities, and create a more positive future for their youth. By addressing the root causes of crime, they are providing models of restorative justice that are working. Mainstream courts across the country are taking notice.

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Meet our featured judges and the people whose cases we followed
in the film in this brand new trailer, less than five minutes long.

(Pressvimeo full screenabove to view full screen)

Abby Abinanti

The Honorable Abby Abinanti
Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe on the North Coast of California, is the first Native American woman to pass the California bar exam. She established the first tribal-run clean slate program in the country to help members expunge criminal records, and focuses on keeping young people out of jail, in school and with their people. She has also served as Appellate Judge for the Colorado River Indian Tribe; Judge for the Hopi Tribal Court and Shoeshone-Bonnock Tribal Court; Chief Magistrate on the Court of Indian Offenses for the Hoopa Valley Tribal Court; and Tribal Courts Evaluator for the Indian Justice Center and the American Indian Justice Center.

Yurok Judge Abby Abinanti with
Judge Christopher Wilson of Humboldt County


Winner Charlotte  First Peoples Festival

woods hole  Cinetopia - Winner

The Honorable Claudette White
Judge White has served as Chief Judge for the Quechan Tribal Court since 2005. She also rides circuit, serving in tribal courts throughout Southern Arizona and California, including the Fort McDowell Indian Community, Ak-Chin Indian Community, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and Tonto Apache Tribal Courts. She is President of the Arizona Indian Judges Association, and is a member of the Arizona Tribal, State and Federal Court Forum and the newly formed California Tribal Court/State Court Forum. She works closely with families, state court judges, probation officers and social workers to ensure the best outcomes for families and children.

Quechan Judge Claudette White & Judge Juan
Ulloa of Imperial County

Claudette White


Tribal Justice Slideshow

Tribal Justice

Tribal Justice


Tribal Justice Credits
Producer/Director: Anne Makepeace
Executive Producer: Ruth Cowan
Production Consultant: Jennifer Walter
Co-Producer: Daniel Golding (Quechan)
Production Consultant: Lori Nesbitt (Yurok)


Vision Maker National Endowment for the Humanities MacArthur Foundation California Humanities POV Awesome Makepeace Productions