POV: Tribal Justice

About This Episode


"We are village people. We have village values. And those values compel us to take care of each other, our families and our country." - Abby Abinanti

Tribal Justice spotlights tribal courts that incorporate indigenous customs and beliefs into their justice systems. Chief judges Abby Abinanti and Claudette White are focused on restoring their communities rather than punishing offenders. The Yurok and Quechan tribes in California each face their own unique issues, but Abinanti and White share the goal of increasing safety and decreasing incarceration in an effort to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Both judges are passionate about preserving their cultures and creating new pathways to justice for families dealing with historical trauma and intergenerational addiction.

The documentary contradicts the entrenched mainstream narrative that depicts Native Americans as locked in hopeless circumstances as their tribes vanish. Abinanti and White's struggles and triumphs tell a different story, one of strong female leaders working alongside their people to affirm tribal sovereignty and break free of the systems of poverty and inequality confronting Native Americans today.