Tulalip Justice History

We are the Tulalip (pronounced Tuh’-lay-lup) Tribes, direct descendants of and the successors in interest to the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and other allied bands signatory to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott. As signatories, we agreed to cede title to our ancestral lands which expanded to the top of the Cascade Mountains, north to Vancouver Island and south to Oregon. In return, the treaty reserved the Tulalip Indian Reservation as our permanent homeland over which we have retained inherent sovereign jurisdiction.

Our status as a sovereign government maintains our right to self-govern as a “nation within a nation” and to provide for our people. Of our services, 92% are funded from within. This includes tribal member entitlements, family and senior housing, education, health, dental and mental health services, law enforcement, fire protection, infrastructure improvements and economic growth. The Tulalip Tribal Court is a part of the services provided for tribal members.

The Tulalip Tribes have always provided a forum for tribal members to resolve issues. In the early days of the court, there was no courtroom and the court was presided over and held at the home of Oscar Carl Jones, Sr., a Tulalip Tribal member. He was a logger and a beach seine fisherman by trade from the mid-1950s until 1967. He was also the bishop of the Full Gospel Shaker Church and held meetings in his home. Judge Jones was on the Tulalip Board of Directors and signed on the original tribal Constitution and Bylaws for the Tulalip Tribes of Washington.

When the tribe decided to take back jurisdiction over reservation lands from the State of Washington in 2001, they established the Tribal Police Department. Retrocession (to take back jurisdiction on tribal lands) advanced the sovereignty and self-determination of the tribe, and the establishment of the police department ensured the protection of life and property.

When the Tulalip Tribal Police Department was established, the need for tribal court services increased and the court grew. Earlier on, employment issues and child welfare cases were the most heard by the court. Now the court hears civil and criminal cases, as well as family law cases, fishing, hunting and gaming issues, forfeitures, exclusions, traffic citations, among others. Listed below are some resources you can read about court history.

For further information about the Tulalip Tribal Court view the following documents: