Klamath Tribes Judiciary: An Update From Your Chief Judge on Government-to-Government Relationships and Strengthening Tribal Sovereignty

Oregon Supreme Court Justice Martha Walters and Klamath Tribes Chief Judge Jeremy Brave-Heart

On August 12, 2015, your Chief Judge attended the first ever Tribal and State Judges Convening in Salem.  This “Convening” was a full-day work session to increase communication, cooperation, and collaboration between Tribal judges and Oregon State judges on many issues.  Some of the issues discussed were cultural understanding and education for the State judges, the Indian Child Welfare Act and ways to improve outcomes for our tribal children in those cases, continued relationship building between Tribal and State judges, the Tribal Law and Order Act and Violence Against Women Act, and how to increase successful relationships between Oregon Courts and State Agencies and Tribal Courts. Also, we discussed increasing honoring Tribal Court orders in the State courts.


I want you—Klamath Tribal members—to know this was no ordinary “bureaucratic” meeting where people just talk and nothing gets done. The outcome of the Convening is that our recommendations will go to the Oregon Supreme Court for a possible “Administrative Order” that will create a new organization in the State of Oregon: An ongoing, mission-oriented, Tribal and State judges Forum that will continue into the future. This will ensure true government-to-government relationships between Tribal and State courts.


At this Convening of judges, the Klamath Tribes and the Klamath Tribes Judiciary were represented by your Chief Judge so that I could collaborate with other Tribal judges and State judges to achieve the Klamath Tribes Judiciary’s mission: To improve and increase services to tribal members while strengthening and upholding Klamath Tribal sovereignty, and to be treated as equals.



I also had an extensive discussion with Oregon Supreme Court Justice Martha Walters at the Convening. I expressed to her the goals of the Klamath Tribes and the Klamath Tribes Judiciary, and we had a very good talk about the challenges we face as tribal members, and the successes as well.


Thank you Klamath Tribal members for allowing me to be a part of your community, to be upon your lands, and to serve the Klamath Tribes. It is an honor.




Chief Judge Jeremy Brave-Heart

Klamath Tribes Judiciary


Chiloquin, Oregon