Native american man with his little son on shoulders in the countryside.

Creating a Parenting Plan as a Native American

Divorce presents challenges to any couple; however, one of the most stressful components is creating a successful parenting plan if there are children involved. Keeping the children’s best interests in mind is critical, but this can be difficult to accomplish amidst a stressful separation. Furthermore, specific populations, such as Native Americans, face more unique challenges.

Traditions and culture within the Native American population are heavily emphasized and often influence how families co-parent and communicate. Due to the assimilation and destruction of the Native American people, traditional Native American culture and view of families are often lost within state-mandated laws. Luckily, Tribal Courts have attempted to reinforce the traditions and culture that once existed through their laws and court system. Keep reading to learn more about how Native American culture is maintained throughout the divorce process, both in Tribal and State Courts.

Native American Culture

The oppression of the Native American population resulted in significant destruction of their culture, traditions, and identities, especially within the family units. The very act of removing Indian children from their homes to put them into boarding school is a direct example of the destruction of Native American families. Tribes and tribal members have worked extremely hard to preserve their culture and traditions through child-rearing and education practices to pass this knowledge generationally. Much of this cultural education relies on the parents of the child and elders within the community.

Another key difference is the structure of Native American families. Most American families are nuclear in nature, meaning that the parents and children act as a single unit. This nuclear unit also centers on a patriarchal model. Whereas in Native American culture, it is a more common practice to emphasize the importance of extended family or other Tribal members. Furthermore, the importance of both motherhood and fatherhood in the raising of a child is more emphasized. Most Native American culture operates based on a matriarchal model.

Planning Parenting Successfully in Tribal Court

When creating a successful parenting plan as a Native American family, cultural components are critical. The education of future generations is dependent on a cordial relationship between both parents. For example, suppose one parent is not part of the Tribe. In that case, they may fail to prescribe specific cultural conventions to their children or may not be aware of the rights and responsibilities afforded to Tribal members. In these cases, communication between parents is vital to ensure that both parties are on the same page. But sometimes, communication during a divorce is difficult to accomplish.

Another potential element for consideration is sometimes parents are not awarded custody in Tribal Court. There may be situations where a parent informally gives custody to the grandparents or other extended relatives, and the Tribal Court will formalize the agreement through the court system. In such situations, having control returned to the parent may be more complex than one presumes, creating a completely different planning process for both parents. Speaking with one of our Tribal law experts will help guide you through the process while ensuring that the importance of culture for the children is not lost.

These cultural differences can make planning a parenting strategy complex; however, experienced Tribal law attorneys can assist you.

Contact Circling Eagle Law for Fargo Tribal Court Assistance

If you need to create a successful co-parenting plan, don’t place all of the stress on your shoulders. We here at Circling Eagle Law understand the cultural components that inform Tribal court and law and can help you create a strategy that works for you and your family today. We can help you maintain your children’s culture and your relationships with family.

Call us at (701) 401-7404 to speak with one of our skilled Fargo Tribal court attorneys about parenting plans today!


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