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Tribal Court

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Presiding Judge - Debra O'Gara

Judge O’Gara grew up in the Seattle area and spent summers in Mountain Village, a Yupik village where her mother was born and raised. Her Tlingit name is Djik Sook and she is a Raven of the Teey Hít Taan clan and is the niece of William Paul and great granddaughter of Tillie Paul Tamaree of Wrangell. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington in 1987 and her Juris Doctor from the University of Oregon in 1990. Justice O’Gara has 22 years experience practicing law as a prosecutor, staff attorney and a mediator.

Her areas of expertise are in Indian child welfare, child support, domestic violence, criminal law, tribal sovereignty, fishing & hunting rights, and jurisdictional issues. She worked on Indian child welfare cases for over 15 years, conducting ICWA trainings for guardians, caseworkers, law students and lawyers. In the child support arena, Judge O’Gara actively participated in the federal, state and tribal taskforce that began in 1996 aimed at providing information to all tribes about the Welfare Reform Act, TANF and Child Support and presided over the Child Support Court as the Magistrate for Central Council's Tribal Court. She has also worked on domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault issues in Indian Country for over 20 years, including three years in New York City as Director providing legal assistance to victims and survivors of domestic violence. She has written DV statutes, policies and procedures, protocols and has provided inter-disciplinary trainings on these.

Debra is honored to be putting her education and experience to work for her own tribe and is committed to expanding and strengthening the Tribal Court system for the betterment of our tribal families and children.