Tribal Courts of New York
Cayuga  •  Oneida  •  Onondaga  •  St. Regis Mohawk  •  Seneca  •  Tonawanda Seneca  •  Tuscarora  •  Shinnecock  •  Unkechaug
N.Y. State Unified Court System  •  United States Courts for the Second Circuit Resident in the State of New York
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About the Forum

General Purpose

The Federal-State-Tribal Courts Forum is established to create an ongoing colloquium between state, tribal and federal judiciaries regarding the interaction of state, tribal and federal court jurisdiction in New York State. The interaction of federal court jurisdiction with tribal court and state court jurisdiction in New York State results in unique opportunities for cooperation between state, federal and tribal judiciaries.



  1. To develop educational programs for Judges and Tribal Chiefs and Indian Communities;
  2. To exchange information among Tribes and Nations and agencies;
  3. To coordinate the integration of ICWA training for child care professionals, attorneys, judges and law guardians;
  4. To develop mechanisms for resolution of jurisdictional conflicts and inter-jurisdictional recognition of judgments;
  5. To foster better cooperation and understanding among justice systems; and
  6. To enhance proper ICWA enforcement.


Background of the New York Federal-State-Tribal Court and Indian Nations Justice Forum

In 2002, then New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye created the New York Tribal Courts Committee to study the possibility of establishing a federal-state-tribal courts forum for New York, following the lead taken by the Conference of Chief Justices to explore how different justice systems might collaborate to foster mutual understanding and minimize conflict. She appointed the Honorable Marcy L. Kahn, now Convener Emerita (ret.), Appellate Division, to chair the Committee.

In May 2003, Judge Kahn met for the first time with members of New York’s nine-recognized Indian Tribes and Nations to ascertain their interest in developing a federal-state-tribal courts forum. Following subsequent meetings, with support from Judge Kahn and the Tribal Courts Committee Co-Chair, the Honorable Edward M. Davidowitz, the group formalized the New York Federal-State-Tribal Courts Forum in 2004.

Together with the New York Tribal Courts Committee, the Forum sponsored the First New York Listening Conference in 2006. The First Listening Conference galvanized the Forum members to develop concrete steps to implement the mission. The First New York Listening Conference convened state and federal judges and court officials in sessions with tribal judges, chiefs, clan mothers, peacemakers, and other representatives from justice systems of New York’s Indian Tribes and Nations to exchange information and learn from each other.

Ten years later, the Forum decided that the time had come to discuss the Forum’s accomplishments and identify current issues that the Forum might address in future years, so it organized the Second New York Listening Conference which was held on September 29-30, 2016 in Albany, New York. The conference gathered 100 people from New York’s Indian Tribes and Nations, State and Federal justice systems with a common focus on working toward solutions and listening to stories of past successes.




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