Maine premiere of ‘Tribal Justice’

Jul 14, 2017
Photo by: Anne Makepeace Judge Claudette White presides over a Tribal Court-State Court Forum meeting.

Rockland — Rockland Public Library, 80 Union St., will present the Maine premiere screening of “Tribal Justice,” a 2017 documentary directed, written and produced by Anne Makepeace, Thursday, July 27, at 6:30 p.m. This event is a collaboration with “POV,” PBS' award-winning nonfiction film series.

“Tribal Justice” is a documentary feature about a little known, underreported but effective criminal justice reform movement in America: the efforts of tribal courts to create alternative systems of justice. There are more than 300 tribal courts across the country. In California, Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe on the north coast; and Claudette White, Chief Judge of the Quechan Tribe in the southern desert, are creating innovative systems that focus on restoring, rather than punishing, offenders in order to keep tribal members out of prison, prevent children from being taken from their communities and stop the school-to-prison pipeline that plagues their young people.

The film introduces the two women, then follows several cases both in and out of their courts. Restorative Justice has become a buzzword in mainstream legal circles, with many in the field advocating a shift from our punitive justice system to one that addresses root problems. Native American tribes have been doing this since time immemorial, resolving disputes by finding ways for offenders to right wrongs and restore balance to the community.

“Tribal Justice” challenges the entrenched cultural narrative of Native Americans as hopeless dependents unable to better their own circumstances. These stories show the featured judges asserting tribal sovereignty and invoking their own traditions to heal their people and raise them out of poverty and inequality.

This year's Thursday Film Series is hosted by the Friends of the Rockland Library. In addition to watching great films, viewers can enter a drawing for books related to the movie's topic or theme donated by the Friend's Book Stop. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 594-0310.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Abby Abinanti is the Chief Judge of California’s Yurok Tribe. (Photo by: Anne Makepeace)
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