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History of ICSC working with Torres Martinez

The Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians initiated the process of developing a Tribal Court in 2003 with a grant from BJA. At that time a Tribal Court Committee was assembled to complete the project. The Tribe successfully developed and adopted a Judiciary Statute that set forth the Courts of the Tribe.


Following the enactment of the Judiciary Statute, the Tribe proceeded to develop its Indian Child Welfare and Family Court in collaboration with the Bureau Affairs and the Torres Martinez Tribal TANF Program. Children Codes were developed and a partnership was formed with Inter-Tribal Court of Southern California. This endeavor has made it possible for the Tribe to be at the leading edge of ICWA advancement. Through its ICWA Court, the Tribe has helped keep Native children in Indian households, preserve Indian families, uphold Tribal Sovereignty, and maintain our customs and traditions.


In the past several years, the Tribe reinstated the Tribal Court Committee to further Court development efforts. As such, the committee has been diligently working on developing its Tribal Court/s, focusing on a Healing to Wellness Court, to begin with. Committee-members have attended training, made possible with limited BIA funding, and have learned about the fundamental components of a Healing to Wellness Tribal Court as well as how to coordinate services for participants.

In addition to activity conducted by the Tribal Court Committee, the Tribe has also established a Legislative Committee separate from the Courts to develop legislation. The efforts of both committees are part of a greater goal of the Tribe to develop and implement a comprehensive justice system in order for the Tribe to exert its sovereignty and protect the best interests of the Tribe and its future generations.

Resolution #TM-03-19-008 was signed by TM Tribal Council on March 20, 2019, approving the Inter-Governmental Agreement between the Tribe and the Intertribal Court of Southern California for its court services.

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