Published On: Mon, Jul 18th, 2016

Tribal Issues Advisory Group to stream public hearing


Cherokee Supreme Court Chief Justice William Boyum reports that the Tribal Issues Advisory Group (TIAG), an ad hoc advisory group to the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), released its report on June 13 and that a public hearing on the report will be live-streamed on Thursday, July 21 at 11am.

The USSC is a bipartisan, independent agency that advises and assists Congress and the Executive Branch in developing effective and efficient crime policy.  The TIAG was tasked with studying the operations of the federal sentencing guidelines as they relate to American Indian defendants and victims and to tribal communities and court systems.  This group sought to identify and resolve sentencing disparities in federal sentencing guidelines as applied to defendants from tribal communities versus similarly situated defendants in state courts.  They also reviewed topics such as whether federal sentencings accurately measured tribal court convictions or tribal protection order violations and whether Native American youthful offenders were sentenced appropriately.

The group consisted of five Federal District Court Judges from Indian Country, the former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, the Associate Solicitor for the Department of the Interior (Division of Indian Affairs), the Director of the Office of Tribal Justice, a United States Attorney, a Federal Defender, a tribal chairman, two private attorneys, two Professors, a BIA Victim Specialist, a tribal attorney, a director of tribal public safety and two tribal judges including Justice William Boyum.

Justice Boyum, co-chair of the Federal/Tribal working group, reported that an “incredible amount of work” went into this report and it is hoped that all of Indian Country can benefit from it.  He also notes that this networking opportunity brought many advocates for Indian Country together and provided a forum for positive thinking unlike any other in the country.

The TIAG met with the USSC in Washington and traveled to reservations in North Dakota and Arizona to review tribal courts and to discuss tribal issues.  Additionally, each member participated in numerous teleconferences and assisted in the drafting of the report.  The group also organized a nationwide Tribal Consultation to discuss issues pertinent to Indian Country prosecutions.  The USSC has followed up on the TIAG report by issuing Proposed Priorities to effectuate the group’s recommendations.

Public comment will be accepted on the Proposed Priorities until July 25.  The TIAG report is available on the USSC website at and the Public Hearing is available at

– Cherokee Tribal Court