By Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director

Federal Indian law is complex and is a highly specialized area of legal practice. Lawyers outside the practice of Indian law, including state and federal court judges, are often as confused as the public at large on the maze of jurisdictional laws and regulations that govern in Indian Country. Yet, the lives of tribal community members, daily, must navigate the tribal, state, and federal laws that control their housing, health care, environment, parent and child relationships, income tax, their government institutions such as tribal courts, law enforcement, and their economic enterprises.

In addition to providing direct legal representation to Native Americans and tribes, CILS provides Indian law training and presentations. The purpose of the training is to help tribal members, leaders, and outside agencies and departments that interact with the tribal community better understand the laws that apply (and do not apply) in Indian Country. Our training and educational presentations are developed for the audience we are speaking to and are designed for interactive engagement to respond to questions without intimidation or hesitation. Our community education services are free if opened to other tribes and tribal communities.

CILS has a vast library of existing training and educational materials which it expands upon as new laws, regulations, policies, and issues evolve in Indian Country. The following is a non-inclusive list of training topics that CILS has developed and that our experienced and talented attorney staff are available to provide to your community upon request:

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

  • Introduction to ICWA and BIA Regulations
  • Qualified Expert Witnesses
  • Active Efforts
  • Criminal Background Checks for Tribally Approved Homes
  • Tribal Customary Adoptions
  • Tribal ICWA Advocate Training

Public Law 280 Jurisdiction

  • Introduction to PL 280
  • Policing in a PL 280 State
  • Regulatory Jurisdiction
  • Retrocession and Re-Assumption of Federal Jurisdiction Under the TLOA

Developing Tribal Courts

  • Training Tribal Court Advocates
  • Expanded Jurisdiction Under TLOA

Cultural Resource Protection Laws

  • Tribal Consultation Under State and Federal Law

American Indian Probate Reform Act

  • Simple Estate Planning

Section 184-Federal Guarantee Home Loan Program

Tribal Law and Order Act

Indian Civil Rights Act

Economic Development


Domestic Violence

  • Code Development
  • Enforcement of Tribal Court DV Orders
  • Expanded Jurisdiction Over Non-Indians for Acts of Domestic Violence

Please contact your nearest CILS Office if your tribe or tribal community would like to host a training or education presentation for your community.