Indigenous Native American Peacemaking

Websites on Peacemaking:

Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative (NARF)
Provides background information about Indigenous peacemaking and tools to help Native people implement peacemaking in their communities.

Tribal Law & Policy Institute: Traditional Law
Contains links to information and resources concerning tribal custom and tradition, traditional law, traditional methods of dispute resolution, and other related issues.

Tribal Access to Justice Innovation (National American Indian Court Judge's Association)
Provides technical assistance to communities seeking to develop or enhance their tribal justice systems.

Native Justice > Resources
A web page from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi.

Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding: A Selected Bibliography (C. Morris)

Selected Articles on Peacemaking:

Using peacemaking circles to Indigenize tribal child welfare. Columbia Journal of Race and Law, Volume 11, No. 3: 2021. Lauren van Schilfgaarde and Brett Lee Shelton.

A Framework for Understanding Tribal Courts and the Application of Fundamental Law: Through the Voices of Scholars in the Field of Tribal Justice. Tribal Law Journal, Volume 15: 2014-2015. Through an examination of scholarly articles, this paper examines traditional tribal justice systems set in tribal communities in an effort to establish a framework for understanding tribal courts and the unique challenges they face.

Justice for All: An Indigenous Community-Based Approach to Restorative Justice in Alaska. Northern Review 38 (2014): 239-268. Brian Jarret and Polly E. Hyslop. Explores the causes of a high crime rate among Native Alaskans and how problems in the legal structures can make things worse. Examines the development and implementation of Circle Peacemaking in Kake, Alaska, and the Upper Tanana Wellness Program. Proposes nine principles useful in developing a restorative justice program.

An Overview of Restorative Justice Programs. Alaska Journal of Dispute Resolution (2013). Bruce Barnes. Reviews a variety of local, regional, and national justice practices, including indigenous peacemaking.

Classic Revisited: A Native Vision of Justice. 111 Mich. L. Rev. 835 . (2013) Carole Goldberg.

Conflict resolution practices of Arctic aboriginal peoples. (2013). Renee Gendron, Charlotte Hill. (HeinOnline access - subscription required)

Pathway to Hope: an indigenous approach to healing child sexual abuse. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, vol 72, 2013. Diane Payne, et al.

Restorative Justice in Rural Alaska. Alaska Journal of Dispute Resolution (2012, No. 1). Polly E. Hyslop. Profiles peacemaking circle in Kake, Circle Sentencing in Galena, and the Upper Tanana Wellness Committee in Tok. Explores relationship between western justice system and communities as well as challenges facing advocates.

Redressing the Right Wrong: The Argument from Corrective Justice. 62 U. Toronto L.J. 93 (2012). Douglas Sanderson. Argues that the greatest wrong committed against Indigenous peoples has been the on-going suppression of institutions that positively affirm culture and identities. Argues that using a framework of corrective justice returns institutions that affirm ancient Indigenous values.

Peacemaking Today: Highlights of a roundtable discussion among tribal and state practitioners. (2012). Center for Court Innovation.

Peacemaking on the Rosebud : Two systems one goal. 2011. Nora Antoine. (not available online)

Restorative Group Conferencing: An Alternative Response to Juvenile Crime in the Yukon, Canada. Alaska Journal of Dispute Resolution (2011). Jeff D. May. Discusses restorative justice general and describes the operation of community conferencing in the Yukon specifically. Makes recommendations which can be applied to communities developing peacemaking systems.

Huikahi Restorative Circles: Group Process for Self-Directed Reentry Planning and Family Healing. European Journal of Probation, University of Bucharest, vol. 2, no. 2, 76-95, 2010. Lorenn Walker.

Does circle sentencing reduce Aboriginal offending? New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Crime and Justice Bulletin, Number 115, May 2008. Jacqueline Fitzgerald.

The Navajo Nation's Peacemaker Division: an integrated, community-based dispute resolution forum. 2002. Howard Brown.

Strengthening tribal sovereignty through peacemaking: how the Anglo-American legal tradition destroys indigenous societies. 28 Colum. Hum. Rts. Law Review 235. (1997). Robert B. Porter. (HeinOnline access - subscription required)

To Set Right Ho'oponopono: A Native Hawaiian Way of Peacemaking. The Compleat Lawyer (ABA), Fall 1995. Explores in detail the Native Hawaiian practice of ho'oponopono ("setting to right" or "to make right").

Life comes from it : Navajo justice concepts. 24 N.M. L. Rev. 175 (1994). Robert Yazzie.

Balance and Harmony: Peacemaking in Coast Salish Tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Mediation Quarterly, 10: 339–353 (1993). Emily Mansfield. (HeinOnline access - subscription required)

The reawakening of sacred justice. 27 Clearinghouse Rev. 893 (1993-1994). Diane LeResche. (HeinOnline access - subscription required)

Navajo Peacemaker Court: impact and efficacy of traditional dispute resolution in the modern setting. (thesis, 1990). William Bluehouse Johnson. (not available online)

The Navajo Peacemaker Court: deference to the old and accommodation to the new. 1983. James W. Zion. Presents history of Navajo Peacemaker Court. Discusses accommodations made by judges in establishing court in order to find an alternative to the Anglo-American system of justice and in order to integrate custom law.

Expert Working Group: Native American Traditional Justice Practices. A report from the Depts. of Interior and Justice. September 2014. Fourteen experts were asked to provide short presentations on the traditional justice intervention that they lead in their community or about which they are knowledgeable.


Selected Books on Peacemaking:

Justice as healing: indigenous ways. (2005). Wanda D. McCaslin, ed. (limited availability at Google Books)

Will the Circle Be Unbroken? (2005). Jane Dickson-Gilmore & Carol La Prairie. Explores factors for the developing and sustaining restorative justice projects in contemporary Canadian Aboriginal communities. Compares and contrasts efforts in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States with those in Canada. (limited availability at Google Books)

Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community. Living Justice Press (2003). Kay Prannis, et al.

Building community justice partnerships: community peacemaking circles. (1997). Barry Stuart. Details the process of a circle while acknowledging the unique nature of each community and the emotional/spiritual dynamics of the circle.

Returning to the Teachings: Exploring Aboriginal Justice. (1996). Rupert Ross. Shares his experience - highlights a range of communities including: Yukon-Tlingit, New Zealand Family Group Conference, the Navajo, as well as Hollow Water and use with sexual abuse.

Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being. (1996). Harold Napolean, with commentaries.

Disentangling: conflict discourse in Pacific societies. Stanford University Press, 1990. Karen Ann Watson-Gegeo and Geoffrey M. White, eds. Studies of ten disentangling traditions: Hawaiian ho’oponopono, Kwara’ae family counseling (Malaita, Solomon Islands), Fiji Indian pancayat, joking debate in southern Lau (Fiji), gossip narratives of Nukulaelae (Tuvalu), Managalase metaphor and allegory (Papua New Guinea), debates on Tanna (Vanuatu), Trobriand land litigation cases in village courts (Papua New Guinea), and Samoan fono. (review at

Peacemaking in Non-Native Communities:

Improving State Court-Tribal Court Relations. The Bench (Summer 2015). Judge Leonard Edwards.

Tribal Court Peacemaking: A Model for the Michigan State Court System? Michigan Bar Journal. 94-JUN Mich. B.J. 34 (June 2015). Susan J. Butterwick, Hon. Timothy P. Connors, and Kathleen M. Howard.

Red Hook peacemaking program : program guide for court referrals. Center for Court Innovation. (2014)

Navajo Peacemaking: Implications for State Justice Systems from Indigenous Practice. Justice as Healing: A Newsletter on Aboriginal Concepts of Justice. Vol. 18, No. 4 (2013). Honorable Robert Yazzie. (not available online)

Widening the circle : Can peacemaking work in non-tribal communities. Center for Court Innovation. (2013). Robert Wolf.

Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law. 2010. J. Kim Wright. (chapter one online)

Conference Materials on Peacemaking:

Reclaiming Futures in Our Community. Cherokee Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court. Presentation materials from the 2014 conference, Traditional Peacemaking: Exploring the Intersections Between Tribal Courts And Peacemaking, Including Alternatives To Detention.

National Conference on Traditional Peacemaking: ReMaking Justice
Native American Rights Fund. Indian Law Support Center. September 20-22, 1993

National Conference on Traditional Peacemaking and Modern Tribal Justice Systems
Native American Rights Fund. Indian Law Support Center. October 29-30, 1992

Other Resources in the NILL collection and catalog:

Looking for more? Find other peacemaking-related materials in the NILL catalog:

  1. Peacemaking Resources
  2. Dispute Resolution, Restorative and Mediation Resources
  3. Healing and Sentencing Circles Resources
  4. Swift Bird Prisoner Project Resources

Five minute video on how to research peacemaking topics in the NILL catalog and request copies of documents. Contact NILL if you need help obtaining materials or finding information on a specific issue related to peacemaking.

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Visit NARF's Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative website to learn more about efforts to restore traditional dispute resolution techniques...

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