Consortium of Tribal, State, and Federal Courts

Consortium of Tribal, State, and Federal Courts


In August 2018, the Chief Justice, Mike Heavican, hosted a roundtable meeting of the Nebraska-based Tribes, the state, and the federal government in South Sioux City.

Conversations at the roundtable were frank and honest concerning the struggles that arise when the different sovereigns interact, as well as success stories when those sovereigns find ways to work together.

The Nebraska Consortium of Tribal, State, and Federal Courts grew out of the initial roundtable. It will be a space for the tribal and state courts to interact and work through specific problems. The Consortium began meeting in September and has met several times via conference call in the months since. The Consortium has been in consultation with Judge Christine Williams who is a member of the California Tribal Court-State Court Forum. The California forum has been active for over ten years and is advising the Consortium on early lessons learned and moving forward with intention.


Public Engagement Pilot Project Grant

During the development of the Consortium, an opportunity arose for states to apply for grants from the National Center for State Courts to hold public engagement sessions. Nebraska received the grant and will focus on the Native communities in the state. The idea of these sessions will be to build trust through conversation and to allow the discussions to guide the work of the Consortium going forward. National leaders in tribal/state court relations will help facilitate the events. An essential aspect of the meetings is that they be bidirectional in nature. Information will be provided during sessions with time to share concerns or recommend areas of improvement integrated into the agenda.

Goals of the Project include:

  • To identify ways to reduce documented disparities and address other jurisdictional issues identified in the public hearing process.
  • To improve judicial awareness of judicial branch training materials specific to Native American populations in order to enhance confidence in and understanding of the tribal court system.
  • To improve Native American’s level of trust and confidence in the courts.
  • To build trust across court systems.