Native Peoples and Indian Law

Federally recognized American Indian tribes are self-governing, sovereign nations with broad powers over their members and territory. Laws governing tribal members, land use and ownership (real property), business formation and activities (corporate law), as well as procedures for both criminal and civil matters occurring on Indian reservations, are collectively referred to as Indian Law. These laws govern not only the rights of enrolled members, but also those of non-Indians when issues arise on tribal land.

Tribal lands encompass more than 55 million acres across the country. A complex set of intersecting state, federal, and tribal laws govern all of the activities that occur in Indian Country. Whether you are starting a business, accused in a criminal matter, have a civil dispute, or are injured on tribal land, an understanding of this complex system is imperative. Hiring an attorney experienced in how these laws overlap can make all the difference in the outcome of your legal matter.

In North Carolina, there are over 56,000 acres of land that fall under the control and jurisdiction of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Ordinances passed by the Tribal Council are enforced by the Principal Chief and tribal civic employees. The modern Cherokee Court handles civil and criminal matters falling under the jurisdiction of the EBCI. Many of the laws governing civil and criminal matters are similar to state and federal laws, though significant differences exist both procedurally and in substance. In criminal matters, a legal representative should understand how jurisdiction affects the outcome of criminal charges.

At Coward, Hicks & Siler, we possess the understanding of Indian law necessary to successfully represent both enrolled members and non-Indians in matters occurring on EBCI lands. We respect and seek to understand the culture and tradition of the Cherokee people and the systems of jurisprudence and municipal law created by the Tribe’s government. We are prepared to assist in all matters arising on the Qualla Boundary and those which fall under the jurisdiction of the EBCI.

We provide a wide range of legal services relative to Indian Law. These include:

  • Probate and Estate Law for Tribal Members
    • Estate Planning: Wills and Trusts
    • Estate Administration: Probate and Will Contests
  • Tribal Corporate Law
    • Business Formation and Operation
    • Business Leases
    • Business Permits
    • Business Debt Collection
  • Tribal Municipal Law
    • Writing and Presentation of Tribal Council Resolutions and Ordinances
    • Tribal Enrollment Issues and Appeals
  • Tribal Real Property Law
    • Land and Boundary Disputes
    • Land Easements
    • Sale and Transfer of Land
    • Civil and Criminal Trespass
    • Residential Leases
    • Construction Matters
  • Tribal Court Criminal Matters and Member Representation in other Courts
  • Traffic Violations on Tribal Properties

Attorney Jay Coward is a municipal and governmental lawyer practicing law in Western North Carolina and in Tribal Court for many years. He studied the Cherokee language at Kituwah Language Academy. He is conveniently located in the Sylva office. Contact them for a consultation regarding your Indian Law matter.

Coward, Hicks & Siler, PA, is a general practice law firm, whose lawyers are authorized and licensed to provide legal services in the State of North Carolina. We serve clients throughout western state, in Franklin, Sylva, Murphy, Cherokee, Bryson City, Waynesville, Highlands, Cashiers, Cullowhee, Robinsonville, Brevard, Asheville and surrounding townships.

The main content of this site is updated as necessary to ensure accuracy. Blog posts are accurate as of the date of publication and are updated with new posts in the event of changes in the law. All material found on this website is primarily intended for the purpose of marketing, and to allow visitors to compare the services offered by Coward, Hicks & Siler with those offered by similar law firms.

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FRANKLIN

43 West Main Street
Franklin, NC 28734
Phone: 828-524-6475
Facsimile: 828-524-9833

SYLVA

705 West Main Street
Sylva, NC 28779
Phone: 828-586-2147
Facsimile: 828-586-2605

CASHIERS

211 Cashiers School Road
P.O. Box 1918
Cashiers, NC 28717
Phone: 828-743-2401
Facsimile: 828-743-2403

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  • Contact Information

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    Sylva

    705 W. Main Street
    Sylva, NC 28779
    Phone: 828-586-2147
    Facsimile: 828-586-2605

    Cashiers

    211 Cashiers School Road
    P.O. Box 1918
    Cashiers, NC 28717
    Phone: 828-743-2401
    Facsimile: 828-743-2403

    Franklin

    43 West Main Street
    Franklin, NC 28734
    Phone: ]828-524-6475
    Facsimile: 828-524-9833