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Claudette White, chief judge of the Quechan Indian Tribe in California discussed the importance of the judicial center and being a sovereign nation.

SRPMIC Celebrates Law Day

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Law Day and Justice Center Preview took place on May 1.

The Justice Center hosted a number of activities, including presentations, tours, a film and a photo booth. Staff from court and legal departments set up information tables with staff on hand to help Community members with legal questions.

Throughout the afternoon, guests toured the facility and attended several 30-minute presentations by the Defense Advocate’s Office and Legal Services on legal topics such as child support guidelines, wills, probate issues and consequences of a felony conviction.

SRPMIC President Delbert W. Ray Sr., a former SRPMIC chief judge, was very happy to open the event and welcome everyone.

“Salt River is blessed in so many ways,” Ray said. “It’s the compassion we have for the people and the roles that we play here. We care about our people, and have to decide on something as a body.”

The president commended the Justice Center staff for the work they do for the Community.

“I really enjoy this day, and I appreciate the prosecutors, defenders and other court staff for bringing this event together,” Ray said. “I call it a time for mending, because the court always gets blamed for different things. It’s a time to show what the many processes are and why court dates are reset and everything else. It’s to keep people in step [with] what the actual role of the court is.”

During a tour, staff showed off art work displayed throughout their department which was done by Community Member Dwayne Manuel.
Chief Judge Ryan Andrews thanked everyone for coming. “Today is a day to educate everyone on what we have and offer,” he said, “so take time to ask questions.”

Claudette White, chief judge of the Quechan Indian Tribe in California, was an invited guest for Law Day. She was featured in a PBS documentary called Tribal Justice, which was being screened in a jury room throughout Law Day. It features two Native American judges and how they look to traditional cultural concepts to decide cases and help their tribal members in a positive way.

Guests visit each table which had information and promotional items from the different departments of the Salt River Justice Center.
“The important thing we should remember is that the tribe is exercising its sovereignty, and the tribal court is a tribute to your tribal sovereignty,” said White. “If you fail to exercise [tribal sovereignty], those things come under threat.”

Ernie’s Catering, a Community member–owned business, served a dinner of street tacos and the Pickle Slushi People served the popular pickle slushies.