KODIAK - Kodiak Island has received federal funding to set up the first tribal court on the island.
The Shoonaq Tribe of Kodiak is the recipient of a $96,826 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to set up the tribal court.
The money was granted under the agency's Tribal Courts Assistance Program, said tribal administrator Bob Polasky. It will provide two years of funding.
The funds will be used to form the tribal court so that the tribe can assume jurisdiction over civil case matters. The focus will be on children in need of care.
The court will address matters covered by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law reorganizing tribal jurisdiction and standing in child custody cases. ICWA requires states to inform tribes of tribal children in custody or need of care.
Tribes can then intervene to take jurisdiction over the case, provide legal representation, coordinate foster care placement and rule on custody issues.
Polasky said a tribal court administrator will be hired to carry out the 21-month project, along with a part-time tribal judge.
A project advisory team will be formed to develop a plan on what types of cases the court should handle. The team also will work with the court administrator and tribal judge to develop codes and procedures for the court.