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Legal Code Development Series 


TLPI is proud to offer the following Legal Code Development series as part of our organization’s vision to empower Native nations to create and control their own institutions for the benefit and welfare of all community members. 


Please visit our Projects and Services page for more information on our various grant projects that allow for free technical assistance to Native nations that are creating or revising legal codes. Additionally, we have a Fee For Service option for projects that are not eligible for free technical assistance under one of our operating grants.

On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (VAWA 2022) as a part of the Omnibus funding bill (H.R. 2471). VAWA 2022 builds on VAWA 2013’s tribal jurisdiction provision (covering domestic violence, dating violence, and protection order violations) by incorporating additional categories of criminal conduct that can be prosecuted by tribes against non-Indians including sexual violence, stalking, sex trafficking, child violence, obstruction of justice, and assaults against tribal justice personnel. VAWA 2022 also creates a pilot program for Indian Tribes in Alaska to exercise Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction within Alaska Native villages; provides formal authorization for the Tribal Access Program (TAP); and reestablishes the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Tribal Prisoner Program first authorized as a pilot in the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act. The tribal provisions of VAWA 2022 are included in Title VIII of Division W of the overall bill. For more information, please check out the Section by Section Summary of VAWA 2022 Tribal Provisions by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Inter-Tribal Working Group Summary of VAWA 2022 Tribal Provisions. This webpage was developed prior to passage of VAWA 2022 and has not yet been updated to reflect the most recent changes. Please be sure to review the amendments to the law before relying on this webpage for guidance. Please note - the enhanced “special tribal criminal jurisdiction” provisions will not take effect until October 01, 2022. The current “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction” will apply until then.


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Guide for Drafting or Revising Tribal Laws on Crimes against Children is designed to provide a process for enacting a culturally-appropriate criminal code that addresses the victimization of tribal children. Content covered in this publication includes the effects of violence on children, protections for child victims during the criminal process, summaries of existing tribal criminal code provisions, and considerations for approaching tribal code development. This Guide is an update to a previous publication on this topic released in 2008.

Guide for Drafting or Revising Tribal Civil Dependency and Related Laws is intended to be used by tribal leaders in the course of drafting new or amended tribal statutory provisions related to child dependency laws. (2017)

Guide for Drafting or Revising Victim-Centered Tribal Laws Against Sexual Assault and Stalking is designed to assist Native nations interested in developing or revising victim-centered laws on sexual assault and stalking. This resource includes sample language and exercise questions designed to guide discussion on what laws will best reflect tribal values. Originally published in 2008, this resource was revised and updated to reflect innovations in tribal law and new federal requirements. (2017)

Guide for Drafting or Revising Tribal Laws to Implement TLOA Enhanced Sentencing and VAWA Enhanced Jurisdiction is designed to provide guidance for Native nations interested in implementing enhanced sentencing under the Tribal Law and Order Act and/or the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction under the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. (Updated 2016)

Guide for Drafting or Revising Tribal Juvenile Delinquency and Status Offense Laws  is designed to assist Native nations in drafting or revising their juvenile statutes as part of the development or reform of their juvenile justice system. Topics covered range from criminal offenses, to nondelinquency proceedings to integrating culture and tradition. (2015)

Guide for Drafting or Revising Tribal Laws Against Domestic Violence is designed to offer suggestions on how tribal laws can be drafted in a way that provides safety and support for the survivors of domestic violence. (2015)

Co-Authored Publications: 

Banning Conversion Therapy On Minors. Co

The Banning Conversion Therapy on Minors code development guide was created for tribal and state legislators and governments interested in banning harmful conversion therapy practices on minors. It provides the latest research and policy on conversion therapy, with chapters that address each major legal code section, including examples and recommendations. The resource was developed by the American Bar Association's Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and is endorsed by the National Native American Bar Association.(2019)

While not formally co-authored by TLPI, the resource was reviewed by TLPI and has its complete endorsement and support.

The Model Tribal Housing Code  was designed to provide Native nations with an illustrative guide for drafting their housing codes in order to reduce the cost of code development. Since a model code cannot meet the needs of all Native Nations; this publication provides a series of options worth considering and provide a framework that can be adapted to meet the needs of their individual communities. (1999)

The Tribal Legal Code Project is a collection of tribal legal codes covering: housing, land use, zoning, commercial, corporation, environmental, probate and building codes.  Each code section is accompanied by analysis and best practices recommendations designed to assist Native nations in their code development efforts. (1999)

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