Tribal Law and Animal Law

Tribal Law and Animal Law
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2024-05-07
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: Tribal Law and Animal Law
Unit 2 Transcript: Tribal Law and Animal Law
Unit 3 Workbook: Tribal Law and Animal Law
Unit 4 Recording: Tribal Law and Animal Law

There are complexities and challenges that come with advocating for animals in tribal nations. For advocates who want to pursue the best outcomes for both the people within indigenous populations and the animals in tribal lands, it is critical to understand how mainstream cultural impositions can present problems and how facilitating collaborative approaches that take the community’s history and the nuances of systemic oppression into account can create better outcomes.

This session’s instructor is Jessica Chapman from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) where she is the Staff Attorney with the Criminal Justice Program. She partners with stakeholders across the criminal justice system in her role to address the cause and consequences of animal cruelty.

Points tackled in this presentation include:

  • How the imposition of Western cultural practices on Indigenous communities leads to misunderstandings and misrepresentations in areas related to animal law.
  • Questions to take into account when looking at working on animal advocacy within indigenous populations and lands.
  • Considerations when it comes to language surrounding indigenous nations to prevent the use of terms with colonial connotations.
  • Statistics on the indigenous tribes and reservations, how other tribes exist without federal recognition, and how historical policies displaced indigenous populations.
  • The unique relationships between indigenous groups and the animals and environment which is vilified by mainstream Western cultures.
  • Applying the One Health perspective which emphasizes the interconnected health of humans, animals, and the environment, when advocating for animals in tribal nations.
  • The importance of getting advocates who work alongside indigenous tribes to recognize how poverty, lack of resources, and mental health concerns impact these populations.
  • The goal of fostering respect and understanding across different cultural practices in animal advocacy, ensuring that efforts are sensitive to the histories, current circumstances, and future aspirations of Indigenous communities.
  • Jurisdictional concerns in the animal law and tribal law intersection.
    • Acknowledging how the federal government prioritizes federal or state interests over those of Indigenous nations through legal mechanisms.
    • How states can impose jurisdiction over Indigenous lands which compromises the autonomy and self-determination of indigenous nations.
    • Other legislative mechanisms and considerations that result in the potential overriding of tribal jurisdiction.
  • A glimpse into law enforcement logistics in tribal lands and how this can create issues for both humans and animals in indigenous communities.
  • Challenges observed by third-party advocates on the intersection of animal law and tribal law as it relates to jurisdictional overlap, lack of resources, misunderstandings of indigenous culture, competing needs, and criminal justice procedures.
  • Challenges experienced by indigenous nations when working with external entities as it relates to cultural considerations, tourism-related misconduct like removing animals from tribal land and trespassing, and prioritizing needs.
  • Guidelines for advocacy organizations looking to work alongside tribal nations that highlight the need to align with indigenous values and needs, and foster collaboration rather than impose solutions to support both community and animal welfare effectively.
  • Resources – internal advocacy partners, third-party collaborators, and reading materials – to help foster a culturally sensitive approach to advocating in indigenous nations.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • Federally recognized tribes and non-recognized tribes that exist.
  • References mentioned during the webinar.
  • Collaborating with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
  • Suggestions to improve or establish good working relationships with tribal entities.


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Resources and Handouts



Audience Comments

  • “Thanks for doing a training on a topic I have very little knowledge on.”
  • “This was very interesting and informative.”
  • “Thank you for this webinar and info.”




Founded in 1979, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. The Animal Legal Defense Fund accomplishes this mission by filing high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm, providing free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are held accountable for their crimes, supporting tough animal protection legislation and fighting legislation harmful to animals, and providing resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law.



This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.



This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.





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