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Tribes' conference focusing on mediation

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectID=12&articleID=071023_1 _A7_spanc58115 Tribes conference focusing on mediation by: S.E. RUCKMAN World
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2007
      http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectID=12&articleID=071023_1
      _A7_spanc58115

      Tribes' conference focusing on mediation

      by: S.E. RUCKMAN World Staff Writer
      10/23/2007

      OKLAHOMA CITY -- Tribes are reaching into their pasts to resolve
      present-day disputes, a speaker said Monday at a national American Indian
      conference on indigenous peacemaking.

      Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby gave welcoming remarks to more than
      100 tribal leaders from around the country who have tribal peacemaking or
      mediation programs.

      The Ada-based Chickasaw Nation recently established a peacemaking program
      within its 13-county jurisdiction. It offers mediation services in lieu of
      tribal court.

      "We believe our cultural identity is something that needs to be celebrated,
      not overcome," Anoatubby said. "Peacemaking is different because when both
      sides walk away, they're both winners."

      Although the 38,000-member Chickasaw Nation uses a tribal court system, it
      has joined other tribes in embarking on peacemaking -- or nonlegal
      mediation -- to keep tribal court caseloads down and to encourage a sense
      of community among tribal members.

      The Chickasaws looked to the Navajo Nation in the western United States and
      the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin -- which have longstanding peacemaking
      programs -- to establish its program. The systems are based on traditional
      laws as a means of finding justice, one tribal official said.

      "When you look in the mirror, you see the state of civil court, and that's
      a reflection of the white man's court, which is fine, but that doesn't
      necessarily work for us," said Stan Webster, an Oneida judicial officer.

      "We have worked to develop our system since we estab lished the system in
      1991, and we still haven't got it just right yet."

      Webster said the Oneidas' program is limited to civil issues such as
      property differences or child-custody disputes and is based, in part, on
      the tribe's traditional views.

      Sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation, the conference also presented
      discussions on finding tribal peacemakers, often respected elders, and
      building a viable program.

      The conference runs through Wednesday.
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