Having a Tribal Court is one of the hallmarks of a government and an exercise of our tribe’s sovereignty. Our Tribal Court system has a two-tiered framework, with a trial-level court and an appellate court. The trial-level Tribal Court was first established by Board Resolution 5/11/77J in 1977. The board of directors, under the authority set forth in Article VII, Section 1(g) of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, established the Tribal Court as it currently exists within Chapter 80 of the Tribal Code. Chapter 80 provides that the Tribal Court has “the jurisdiction provided in the Tribal Code and in any subsequent enactment of the Board of Directors.” Tribal Code §80.106. The Tribal Appellate Court, which has “the exclusive jurisdiction to review the decisions of the Tribal Court,” was established via enactment of Chapter 82 of the Tribal Code. Tribal Code §82.109.
In December 2016, the Board of Directors approved amendments to the Tribal Code, Chapter 70, that implemented Tribal Court jurisdiction over non-natives under the Violence Against Women Act. These amendments recognized Sault Tribe’s inherent power to exercise “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction” (SDVCJ) over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit acts of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders on Tribal lands.
Tribal Code currently provides that the Tribal Court has jurisdiction to hear the following types of cases: criminal, child welfare, juvenile delinquency, landlord-tenant, guardianship, civil garnishment, adoptions, conservation, torts, workers compensation, traffic, civil infraction, enforcement of foreign judgments, civil contempt, emancipation, general civil, and personal protection orders.
Hon. Jocelyn K. Fabry (P67806)
Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribal Court
2175 Shunk Road
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
Telephone: (906) 635-4963
Facsimile: (906) 635-4952