A Landmark of Tribal Law

A Landmark of Tribal Law

Bob Hallinen / ADN archive 1992
James Bowen, tribal court judge, presides over the Whale House Artifact case in Klukwan in 1992.

James A. Bowen,

Tribal Court Judge, Klukwan, Alaska

He was born in 1951 in Sequim, Wash., member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe of Washington, where he went by the name of He-alth, which he was given at birth.

He was a graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California Berkeley, where he was an associate editor of the California Law Review. After graduation he served as an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.

He returned to the Pacific Northwest to work as the tribal judge in Washington State for the Puyallup Tribal Court and appellate court judge pro tem for numerous tribal courts. He was a co-founder and president of the Northwest Tribal Court Judges Association.

Upon his move to Sitka, he served as tribal attorney. He focused on the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the development of tribal court systems. He was widely recognized as an expert on Federal Indian law. He served as an administrative law judge for the state of Alaska for 20 years.

A Juneau resident, he died peacefully in in sleep at his home on April 25, 2010. He was 58.

Chilkat Indian village Tribal Court

Chilkat Indian Village, IRA v. Johnson, et. al.

N0.90-01 (Chilkat Tr., Ct.,Nov.3,1993)


Constructing Tribal Sovereignty for the 21st Century:

The Story of Lawmaking in Chilkat Indian Village, IRA v. Johnson

by Vanessa Magnanini