Supreme Court Project

In response to disastrous court opinions and legislative attacks on the status of tribal governments, tribal leaders formed the Tribal Sovereignty Protection Initiative (TSPI) in September, 2001. Tribal leaders structured the TSPI as four separate components: the Legislative Committee, the Tribal Supreme Court Project, the Federal Judicial Selection Project, and the Education and Public Outreach Committee—all working together toward the common goal of protecting tribal sovereignty. Under this framework, tribal leaders, attorneys, and other experts have coordinated and developed an array of educational, legal, political, and grassroots strategies.

A key component of the TSPI on which NCAI continues to work daily is the Tribal Supreme Court Project. The Tribal Supreme Court Project—a collaboration between NCAI and the Native American Rights Fund— monitors litigation in which Native people have a significant stake and coordinates strategy among a network of over 250 tribal leaders, attorneys, and law professors. That strategy includes the preparation and submission, where appropriate, of amicus briefs on behalf of tribes or tribal organizations. Efforts like these have succeeded in slowing and, in some instances, reversing the detrimental impacts of federal court decisions.

Protection of tribal sovereignty in US courts is fundamental to the continued existence of tribes as distinct peoples and cultures. NCAI is dedicated to protecting tribal sovereignty and treaty rights through the courts.

For additional information on the Tribal Supreme Court Project, please visit