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Message from the Director

I am honored to serve as the founding director of the Tribal Justice Project.   My commitment to the tribal communities and populations we serve will be to bring a standard of excellence and cultural responsiveness to everything we do.  Tribes in California and other tribes sharing concurrent jurisdiction with their state counterparts (PL-280 States) deserve access to the best training and education resources for their justice systems, and that is what we strive to provide.   As a member of the California Tribal Community myself, I can confidently say, justice is part of our traditions.  I have always felt strongly that tribes in our community can and should develop and grow their own justice systems to complete the circle of sovereignty.  I have spent much of my career endeavoring to find ways to partner with state courts, as equals, rather than relying on them to resolve tribal disputes. I have applied innovative approaches to court development focused on Tribes relying on each other for strength, to create sustainable justice systems, rather than competing against one another for funding.  I believe that Tribes have all the knowledge we need to resolve our own disputes, in our own traditions, for our own people.  I have seen it work firsthand, even within the complex framework of tribal, state and federal jurisdiction we deal with in California.  We at the Tribal Justice Project are here to support, in a culturally responsive way, every tribe with a goal to create or enhance their own justice systems, to fulfill that goal

- Hon. Christine Williams

Message from the Aoki Director

It is a great honor for the Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies to host the Tribal Justice Project at King Hall.  Working with tribal judges, lawyers, and leaders to enhance the sovereignty and capacity of tribes in California and other Public Law 280 states is a privilege that the Aoki Center embraces.  California has more tribes than any other state in the country and their strength and vibrancy benefits all of us.

The Tribal Justice Project provides accessible and culturally appropriate training to California tribal court judges and other personnel and will be establishing an intertribal appellate court.  By helping to expand the curricular offerings in Federal Indian Law and Tribal Justice at the law school as well as opportunities for students to work with tribes, we also hope that King Hall will become an even more inviting place to study for Native law students and others interested in representing tribal interests.

We are so fortunate that the Project is led by a distinguished jurist, Judge Christine Williams, President of the California Tribal Judges Association, and managed by an experienced and renowned tribal administrator, Jennifer Leal. We are also grateful for the support of the Yurok Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

As one of the few American universities offering a doctoral program in Native Studies and having a keen recognition of the importance of indigenous cultures, UC Davis is an ideal campus for the Tribal Justice Project.  With its majority minority faculty and reputation for educating law students for public service, King Hall provides a welcoming home for the Project.  In addition, the purposes of the Tribal Justice Project align closely with the Aoki Center’s mission of fostering community-engaged and interdisciplinary scholarship on race, ethnicity, and indigeneity.

I am also personally thrilled to work with the Tribal Justice Project as it resonates with my view that public universities have an obligation to be resources for Indian tribes still recovering from the traumas of enslavement, genocide, discrimination, and land theft by colonial governments and missions. Because my own research and teaching focuses on restorative justice, a concept of justice practiced by many indigenous people around the world and many tribes in this country,  I am grateful for this opportunity to learn from tribal leaders. I anticipate that my teaching and scholarship, as well as that of my colleagues, will be enriched by the wisdom that the Tribal Justice Project will bring to King Hall.    

- Mary Louise Frampton