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Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation

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Title: Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Navajo Nation, United States federal courts, Chapter house (Navajo Nation), Miss Navajo, Narbona
Collection: National Supreme Courts, Navajo Nation Government, United States Federal Courts
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut, on November 14, 2011. Pictured are Chief Justice Herb Yazzie (center), Justice Eleanor Shirley (left), and Justice Wilson Yellowhair (right, sitting by special designation).

The Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation is the highest judicial Native American authority of the Navajo Nation, the largest American Indian nation in the United States. According to Harvard Law School, "the judicial system of the Navajo Nation is the most active tribal judicial system in the United States, with a case load that rivals, and in some instances exceeds, many municipal, county, and state judicial systems."[1]

The Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation sits in Window Rock.[2] It is a three-member body consisting of the Chief Justice Herb Yazzie, and one Associate Justice, Eleanor Shirley.[3] The third seat is currently vacant; a district court judge temporarily fills the seat by designation when the Court hears a case.


The Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation was originally created as the Navajo Tribal Court of Appeals on 1 April 1959 as part of the implementation of the Navajo Tribal Council's establishment of the judiciary as a separate branch of government, the "Judicial Branch of the Navajo Nation Government".[4] Originally it was the court of last resort on the Navajo Nation. From 1978[5] to 1985[6] the "Supreme Judicial Council", a political body rather than a court, could hear appeals, on a discretionary basis, from the Navajo Tribal Court of Appeals.

In December 1985 the Supreme Judicial Council was eliminated and the Navajo Tribal Court of Appeals became the Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.[6] It was expressly made the court of last resort.[7]


  1. ^ "Navajo Supreme Court" on the occasion of the Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation Oral Arguments Perry v. Navajo Nation Labor Commission April 12, 2006, Harvard Law School
  2. ^ "Courts of the Navajo Nation in the Navajo Nation Government: A Public Guide to the Courts of the Navajo Nation" revised January 2010, archived 3 November 2010 at FreezePage
  3. ^ "Judges of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court"
  4. ^ Navajo Tribal Council Resolution No. CO-69-58 (16 October 1958)
  5. ^ Navajo Tribal Council Resolution No. CMY-39-78 (4 May 1978)
  6. ^ a b Navajo Tribal Council Resolution No. CD-94-85 (4 December 1985)
  7. ^ Austin, Raymond Darrel (2009) "The Navajo Nation court system" pp. 1&ndash36, page 31 In Austin, Raymond Darrel (2009) Navajo Courts and Navajo Common Law: A Tradition of Tribal Self-Governance University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, ISBN 978-0-8166-6535-8

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