‘American Diagnosis’: A California tribal court works to heal a family


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Episode 8: “Tribal Values, Tribal Justice”

Abby Abinanti is the chief judge of the Eurok Tribal Court and a member of the tribe.

While previously working in the California court system, he was discouraged and outraged at the number of indigenous families who were isolated or tribal members removed from their communities due to the employment or imprisonment of non-tribal pastoral care. The Prison Policy Initiative, a research and advocacy organization, has found that Native people are more represented in prisons in the United States.

A digital image in watercolor and pencil.  Judge Abby Abinanti is at the center of the photo, painted in warm gold tones with highlights in teal and pink.  Behind it, in a centered circle, is a pattern that represents the Euroc tribe.  On each side of him hangs a pair of scales of justice.
(Ona Tempest / KHN)

Abinanti said the Eurok Tribal Court is helping to address this inequality. The court is one of about 400 administered by a federally recognized tribe in the United States. These courts reflect the values ​​of their community, and the plea is for euroc, which means giving priority to recovery over punishment.

“I don’t think any man is disposable,” he said. “Our system is designed to help you get back into the community and be a community asset.”

Episode 8 Eurok explores the intergenerational impact of historical trauma on the population and the work of local tribal courts to meet the needs of the community.

Voice from episode:

  • Abby’s request, Chief Justice, Eurok Tribal Court
  • Ursula Running Beer, Assistant Professor of Public Health at the University of North Dakota
  • Blyth George, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California-Merced

Season 4 of “American Diagnosis” is a co-production of KHN and Just Human Productions.

Includes our Editorial Advisory Board Jordan Bennett-Begaye, Alistair BitsoAnd Brian Pollard.

To listen to all KHN podcasts, click here.

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