‘Tribal Justice,’ looking forward to Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Sep 07, 2017
Photo by: Anne Makepeace Abby Abinanti is the Chief Judge of California’s Yurok Tribe.

Belfast — The Peace and Justice Group of Waldo County, Belfast Free Library and the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast will present the award-winning film “Tribal Justice” (2017, USA) Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. in the Abbott Room of the library, 106 High St. A discussion will follow the screening.

The film follows Abby Abinanti and Charlotte White, two Native American judges who incorporate indigenous values and beliefs into their justice system in order to reduce incarceration rates, foster greater safety for their communities and create a more positive future for youth.

"We are village people. We have village values. And those values compel us to take care of each other, our families and our country," said Abinanti, chief judge of the Yurok Tribal Court and the first Native American woman admitted to the State Bar of California.

White, chief judge of the Quechan Tribal Court in Southern California, said that in her capacity as chief judge, “what I am fighting for is our people, our independence, our sovereignty, our existence." White sees Abinanti as a mentor, and both women are focused on restoring their communities rather than punishing offenders.

The two judges share the goal of increasing safety and decreasing incarceration in an effort to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Both judges are passionate about preserving their cultures and creating new pathways to justice for families dealing with historical trauma and intergenerational addiction. Independent filmmaker Anne Makepeace follows these two compassionate and innovative judges over two years, as they address the root causes of crime and model restorative systems that are working.

“Tribal Justice” provides an education about tribal courts; and a compassionate view of addiction and treatment, as well as celebrating strong female leaders such as Abinanti and White. It also provides a positive example for the mainstream justice system.

This event, a collaboration with “POV,” PBS' award-winning non-fiction film series, is offered in anticipation of the events in Belfast for Indigenous Peoples’ Day Oct. 9. It is free and open to all. For more information, call the library at 338-3884, ext. 10.

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

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