In September 2011, about twenty-five (25) Tribal Judges met during the "Alaska Tribal Court Symposium on Child Protection and Safety" to discuss whether or not it would be helpful to organize themselves into a statewide entity to improve Tribal court practices and judicial skills addressing the needs of children and families under Tribal jurisdiction. The group agreed to begin forming and to ask the Bureau of Indian Affairs – Alaska Region for additional support during the organizational process. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Alaska has played a key role in supporting efforts to strengthen Tribal response to child abuse and neglect and supported the efforts of this group to organize.

A second forum for Tribal courts involved in child safety issues was held in May of 2012. Seventeen Tribal Judges met for a full day after the 2012 "Alaska Tribal Court Symposium on Child Protection and Safety" to continue planning the Alaska Tribal Judges Association (ATJA). This group identified the preliminary goals and developed a plan to organize. Through later correspondence and teleconferences, the founding members chose a logo, identified goals and developed mission and vision statements. By late Spring 2013, the ATJA hopes to establish non-profit status, select leadership and provide the first training opportunity for Alaska Tribal Judges. The ATJA founding members hope to obtain funds that will enable development of core materials to be posted on the webpage and future training events for Alaska Tribal Judges. In addition, the ATJA identified several broad goals, which will serve as the foundation for initial documents and efforts.

Preliminary Goals of the Alaska Tribal Judges Association
  • To network with other Tribal courts
  • To strengthen the skills, knowledge of Tribal judges through joint and targeted training efforts
  • To identify and respond to legislation that adversely affects Tribal Courts in Alaska
  • To share Tribal court case decisions when appropriate
  • To have a unified forum to interface with state court judges on issues of statewide importance


New Resources!

Tribal Jurisprudence In Alaska – Winter 2012 Edition Essential reading!  A comprehensive review of Tribal jurisdiction in Alaska addressing child protection, adoption, juvenile justice, family violence and community safety.  It is an up to date examination of the affirmation of Tribal … Continue reading

Founding Alaska Tribal Judges Association Planning Group Members (in alphabetical order):

  • Pete Abraham, Togiak Tribal Court
  • Peter Esquiro, Sitka Tribal Court
  • Kimberly Franke, Kenaitze Tribal Court
  • Rick Harrison, Chickaloon Tribal Court
  • Mary Ann Mills, Kenaitze Tribal Court
  • Ida Roehl, Curyung Tribal Court
  • Ellen Sovalik, Native Village of Barrow Tribal Court
  • Rusty Swan, Kenaitze Tribal Court
  • David Voluck, Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Tribal Court
  • Susan Wells, Kenaitze Tribal Court
  • Penny Westing, Chickaloon Tribal Court