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        Tribal Justice | Lesson Plan Clips

        The documentary Tribal Justice explores tribal courts in two Native American communities in California and their efforts to integrate traditional models of justice into a modern justice system. Filmmaker Anne Makepeace documents the efforts of Abby Abinanti, chief judge of the Yurok tribe on the north coast, and Claudette White, chief judge of the Quechan tribe in the southern desert, as they work to create alternative systems of justice that focus on rehabilitation, restoration and reintegration into the community rather than punishment and prison. 

        Native American communities have been resolving disputes by finding ways for offenders to right wrongs and restore balance for generations, and more than 300 tribal courts across the United States are now integrating culturally relevant practices that focus on healing to wellness. 

        In this lesson, students will examine the tribal justice model used in the Yurok tribal court and its impact on defendant Taos Proctor. Proctor is one strike away from a 25-year sentence when he is deferred to Chief Judge Abby Abinanti’s court. Through Proctor’s journey, students will come to understand the important role community plays in healing and wellness and how the collaborative process of talking circles can help to establish networks of support, resources and accountability that extend beyond the courtroom.

        Check out POV's film page for Tribal Justice.

        Clip 1: "Tribal Court"

        This clip starts at 1:25 min. with a title card that reads, “As sovereign nations, most Indian tribes have their own courts,” and ends at 07:05 min. with Judge Abby Abinanti looking out over the coast saying, “They’ll come up the river.”

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        Clip 2: “Taos Proctor and Tribal Court”

        This clip starts at 10:32 min. with Judge Abinanti standing up in classroom and saying, “As a state court judge,” and ends at 14:50 min. with a shot of woman and man in court and William Follet saying in voice over, “…with the Yurok Tribal Court.”

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        Clip 3: “Yurok Tribe Versus Taos Proctor”

        This clip starts at 14:57 min. with Judge Abinanti saying, “All right, court is going to call Yurok tribe versus Taos Proctor,” and ends at 17:22 with Judge Abinanti saying, “And this justice system, it represents that core value.”

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        Clip 4: “Wellness Court”

        This clip starts at 32:50 min. with Proctor in a boat saying, “This is where I want to set a net,” and ends at 38:57 min. with Lori Nesbitt saying, “I am kind of like the protective auntie in hoping that he, at least, stays strong.”

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        Clip 5: “Tribal Justice”

        This clip starts at 1:07:09 min. with Proctor picking up tools and walking through a construction site saying, “I’m sweating!” and ends at 1:10:04 min. with Judge Abinanti saying, “And it’s not that much trouble for me to bully him into it.”

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