United States Commission on Civil Rights

Confidential Draft Report
“Enforcement of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968”

May 1990


Indian Civil Rights, page 25
admission to the Red Lake Tribal Bar mandate that candidates be 21 years of age or older, have good moral character, be a law-abiding citizen without a felony conviction, schooled in tribal law and knowledgeable about the tribe's laws, customs, court rules and procedures, understand Chippewa, be a member of the Red Lake band of Chippewa Indians, and be a resident of the Red Lake Indian Reservation for at least a year.[52]
     In its statement to the Commission, the Red Lake Tribe defended these criteria, arguing that while the applicant must understand Chippewa, he need not be able to speak it.[53]  Moreover, the tribe claimed, "It is a fact that outside, non-Indian, professional attorneys frequently disrupt tribal court proceedings and attempt to bamboozle lay Indian judges, prosecutors, clerks, jurors, and witnesses."[54]  Interesting in this regard is that in its proposed Model Code for the Administration of Justice by Courts of Indian Offenses, the Department of Interior
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     [52] Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians Tribal Council Resolution NO. 237-85 (Aug. 29, 1985); see also Washington, D.C. Hearing, supra note 4, at 329.  United States Attorney Jerome Arnold told the Commission that a new resolution was passed and went to Chairman Jourdain for signature, but that instead of signing the resolution, "it went into a drawer and hasn't been seen since."  Washington, D.C. Hearing, supra note 4, at 62-63.  Mr. Arnold did, however, note that since October 1986 "there has been some improvement" concerning the right to counsel.  Id. at 62.
     [53] Testimony of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, printed in Washington, D.C. Hearing, supra note 4, at 321, 329 (emphasis added) ("Note that the applicant is not required to speak the Chippewa language, but rather, to understand it.")
     [54] Id. at 330.  The Tribe's written statement also stresses the importance of understanding the tribe's customs, culture, history, and attitudes about land.  Id. at 329-330.

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