Tribal-State Collaboration

The Importance of Tribal, State and Federal Collaboration

When it comes to supporting youth populations and ensuring that we’re providing a rich future, tribal, state and federal collaboration is an essential part of supporting and addressing system gaps and disparities which contribute to the disproportionate contact of Native youth in the justice system. The scope of this concern is vast, with American Indian youth over-represented in state and federal juvenile justice systems and more likely to face harsher treatment in the most restrictive environments ( And, in state court systems, American Indian and Alaska Native youth are twice as likely as white youth to be petitioned for a status offense ( See: “American Indian/Alaska Native Youth & Status Offense Disparities,” Coalition for Juvenile Justice and Tribal Law and Policy Institute, 2015).

As part of the dialogue to address issues and provide resources to support tribal, state and federal collaboration in juvenile justice systems, we have partnered with The Center for Coordinated Assistance to States (CCAS) at the American Institutes for Research. Through this partnership, we can utilize existing knowledge and provide guidance, strategies and best practices to promote positive and beneficial relationships between Tribal Nations, states and federal agencies.

Recent Presentations: Tribal-State Collaboration

Fostering Tribal, State and Federal Collaborations

A training session presented at the 2021 Coalition for Juvenile Justice Virtual Conference, which offered participants guidance, shared strategies, best practices and resources to promote relationships between states, federal agencies and Tribal Nations, and highlighted effective Tribal-state partnerships in New Mexico. Session panelists included: Heather Valdez-Freedman, Deputy Director, Tribal Law and Policy Institute; Patti Vowell, System Improvement Coordinator, New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department; and Kara McDonagh, Moderator, Grants Management Specialist and Tribal Team Lead, Intervention Division, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.


Reducing and Reimagining Responses for Native Youth in Confinement through Prevention, Intervention, and Alternatives to Detention

A training session which examined system gaps and disparities which contribute to the disproportionate contact of Native youth in the justice system and provided foundational information on trauma-informed frameworks to increase system capacity and trauma-informed responses. The session also addressed the promotion of racial equity to reduce juvenile justice system disparities and Tribal best practices to promote healing and youth resiliency. There was also an overview of the Indigenous model of Family Group Decision Making Conferencing.

Session panelists included Cassandra Blakely, Center for Coordinated Assistance to States (CCAS) Project Director; American Institutes for Research Laura Guay, MSW, Training and Technical Assistance Manager, National Native Children’s Trauma Center (NNCTC); Stephanie Autumn, Co-Director Tribal Youth Resource Center, (TYRC) Tribal Law and Policy Institute; and Keisha Kersey, Moderator, Grants Management Specialist with the State Relations and Assistance Division, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). 


Tribal State Relations to Support Juvenile Justice System Improvements 

A panel discussion presented at the 2021 Tribal Youth Virtual National Conference which discussed the reasons and considerations for collaboration between states and Tribes, practical efforts to support increased collaboration and efforts to support Tribal youth and the implications of continued referral and support processes to decrease juvenile justice system contact for Tribal youth. 



Enhancing Tribal Nation and State Agency Relationships to Promote Access to and Use of Title II Funding 

A session presented at the 2020 State Relations and Assistance Division Training Conference to increase knowledge of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act requirements related to Title II. Speakers provided targeted approaches for increasing inclusion of Tribal voices and leadership in State Advisory Groups, addressing racial and ethnic disparities and other Title II efforts.

Session panelists included Kelbie Kennedy, National Congress of American Indians; Judge Korey Wahwassuck, Minnesota; Callie Hargett, Minnesota; and Gary Charwood, Minnesota. 

Materials: Will Link Materials    

Inclusion, Voice and Collaboration: Building Relationships Between States and Tribal Nations 

A session presented to support increased knowledge of the practical steps that can cultivate work between Tribes and state agencies. Dialogue focused on establishing and strengthening partnerships and the critical need for data sharing to reduce juvenile justice contact among Tribal youth.

Session panelists included Catherine Retana, Tribal Law and Policy Institute; Tasha Fridia, Tribal Youth Resource Center; Bridge Coppersmith, South Dakota; and Red Dawn Foster, South Dakota. 

Materials: Will Link Materials    

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