Legal Question in Native American Law in California

Native American tribal member

I am a tribal member and live on my Reservation. I made a written request for the minutes of past tribal council and committee meetings in which an ordinance was passed, or decisions made, that adversely affected me. The tribal administrator, through the Tribal chairman, has said that they will not give me minutes of the meetings, but will not put the denial in writing. The reason they gave is that they do not want my wife, who is not a member, to be able to see the minutes. What can i do to get copies of these minutes.

Asked on 3/28/09, 3:02 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Thomas Gallagher Law Offices of Thomas F. Gallagher

Re: Native American tribal member


I've worked in Native American law in the past and am a tribal member myself (Ho-Chunk Nation). You might try to refer to your tribe's constitution or articles for more information on accessibility to the minutes. Or, you may try viewing them in the tribal office without copying the material.

Good luck. Please email me if you need further assistance.


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Answered on 3/29/09, 4:53 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: Native American tribal member

The previous answer expresses a good possibility, and also the difference between U.S. and tribal law. The tribes are oftentimes not subject to concepts like due process and freedom of information. You may just be up against a dead end. Before spending money on a lawyer who knows your tribe's constitution and courts, one more free source of advice might be the BIA office serving your reservation. Or does your tribe have an ombudsman?

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Answered on 3/30/09, 12:47 am

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