Anthony Brandenburg: Alternative dispute resolution and tribes
"Many times conflicts arise in Indian country that cannot be resolved within the framework of tribal council or tribal court. Some people with legitimate complaints may be reluctant to go to court but aren’t sure what other options are available. The dispute may involve non-Indians or a non-Indian company, corporation or another business entity or individual where a traditional peace-making formula won’t work. The disagreement could also involve a situation where state or federal courts may not be the proper venues either.

What’s a tribe, tribal enterprise or individual in Indian country to do?

There are alternatives to assist tribal communities, enterprises and members in resolving disputes and the modern form of these tools are rooted in traditional methods of resolving differences in the Native community.

Alternative Dispute Resolution is an effective, timesaving and efficient alternative to a lengthy court procedure. It is often voluntary, which can help preserve relationships, and from a tribal perspective, it is less political; more informal than the traditional court process; and allows the parties to be more active in the presentation of their case.

While to some ADR may appear as a foreign concept, the tools used in ADR closely parallel traditional methods of resolving differences in the Native community, which are a rich part of its history.

As a matter of fact, ADR is rooted deeply within the Native American concept of justice. Structurally it is built on traditional “peace-making” or “keeping circles,” principles deeply imbedded in restorative justice. Depending on the type of ADR employed, there are many benefits to move from the familiar legal grid into an “alternative method” of resolving disputes."

Get the Story:
Anthony Brandenburg: Alternative Dispute Resolution is a better way (Indian Country Today 10/18)