Anne Bruno


This article examines the implications of the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA), and its impact on one tribe in New Mexico. The article first discusses the development of the ICRA and its subsequent effect on individual rights and tribal nation’s responsibilities when handling criminal offenses in tribal courts. Second, the article provides some historical context and background of pueblo Indian communities in New Mexico as a prelude to providing observations that were made of one specific Pueblo’s Contemporary Tribal Court. Third, the article provides a detailed glimpse into the procedures that were followed during six criminal arraignments: focusing on the tribal court’s application of the ICRA during the proceedings. Fourth, the article provides commentary on the Tribal Court’s application of the ICRA; highlighting three critical issues within this Tribal Court: (1) the lack of a public defender or public defense system, (2) the unclear role of the judge, and (3) the adopted western-style court proceeding. Finally, the article concludes by encouraging tribal leaders to examine their tribal court structures and inquire whether violations of civil rights could be occurring, and to look within the tribal values to help find ways to resolve or prevent violations.



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