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American Indian and Indigenous Law Resources

Directories

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)

Law Library of Congress Indigenous Law Portal

  • List of Resources provides links to official websites of tribes and courts, in addition to links to online legal materials and resources.  The listing may also be sorted by geographic region and state.

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

  • Tribes provides links to the official websites of tribes, contact information, and status of recognition (federal or state).
  • Tribal Organizations provides links to websites of regional intertribal and national organizations.

National Native American Bar Association

Tribal Court Clearinghouse

  • Tribal Courts provides links to both the official website of tribes and their court websites. There are also additional resources and links to national organizations.

National Indian law Library

Research Guides

This is a selection of research guides from other law libraries. Others may be found by searching the internet.

 

University of New Mexico School of Law, Indian Law Resources

This resources page provides links to many established Indian law organizations and institutions, as well as links to various on-line Indian law research materials.

American Indian Law Resource Guide: University of Arizona

The purpose of this guide is to provide an overview of resources available to start research in American Indian and Indigenous Law. This guide focuses on researching American Indian tribal law and federal Indian law. However, as many of the resources used in federal Indian law are also used in researching other areas of law, less emphasis is placed on those resources.

Indian & Tribal Law Guide: University of Washington, Gallagher Law Library

Resources for researching federal Indian law and Native American tribal law. [Some resources are UW restricted.]

Native American Law Research - Getting Started: University of Oklahoma

The focus of this guide is to provide a broad overview of resources available to researchers of Federal Indian, tribal, and indigenous peoples law issues.  

Native American Law: Mitchell Hamline Warren E. Burger Law Library

Our Native American Law Research Guide contains resources and starting points for researching Native American laws, cases, administrative law, legal commentary, and current awareness.

Indian Law Research Guides: National Indian Law Library

Resources for researching Indian Law, general and specific topics.

Other Resources

Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (Federally Recognized Tribes)

89 Fed. Reg. 2112 (Jan. 8, 2024) provides a list of federally recognized Native American tribes, pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribes List Act of 1994 (PL 103-454). This list is updated annually, usually in January.

Federally Recognized Indian Tribes and Resources for Native Americans (www.usa.gov). Information about and resources for Native Americans from the U.S. government.

The American Law Institute’s Restatement on the law of American Indians.  This Restatement covers the foundational principles of American Indian law. It provides descriptions of fundamental terms and addresses Indian statutes and treaties, tribal governance, the federal–tribal relationship, and Congressional powers over Indian affairs.

  • This project includes six Chapters; Chapter 1, Federal-Tribal Relations; Chapter 2, Tribal Authority; Chapter 3, State-Tribal Relations; Chapter 4, Tribal Economic Development; Chapter 5, Indian County Criminal Jurisdiction; and Chapter 6, Natural Resources. The Proposed Final Draft was approved at the 2021 Annual Meeting, subject to the discussion at the Meeting and editorial prerogative.
  • Discussion Drafts and Tentative drafts are available:

HeinOnLine - Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: History, Culture & Law (formerly the American Indian Law Collection) is a collection with more than 3,700 titles and more than 1.5 million total pages dedicated to indigenous American life and law, including treaties, federal statutes, federal case law, tribal codes, constitutions, and more. (UofSC login required)

Tribal Court Clearinghouse is a comprehensive website established in June 1997 to serve as a resource for American Indian and Alaska Native Nations, American Indian and Alaska Native people, tribal justice systems, victims services providers, tribal service providers, and others involved in the improvement of justice in Indian country. It is one of the most comprehensive websites on tribal justice system issues, and includes a wealth of tribal, state, and federal resources.

National Indian Law Library (NILL)  at the Native American Rights Fund is a law library devoted to federal Indian and tribal law. NILL maintains a unique and valuable collection of Indian law resources and assists people with their Indian law-related research needs.

National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA) is a national association comprised of tribal justice personnel & others devoted to supporting and strengthening tribal justice systems through education, information sharing, and advocacy.

Walking on Common Ground, is an initiative to promote and facilitate tribal-state-federal collaborations.  It was initially focused on court and justice system collaborations, but has been expanded to address a broader range of issues. “Tribal, federal, and state justice communities join together, in the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, to promote and sustain collaboration, education, and a level of support to ensure equal access to justice.”

Indian Law Resource Center provides legal assistance to indigenous peoples of the Americas to combat racism and oppression, to protect their lands and environment, to protect their cultures and ways of life, to achieve sustainable economic development and genuine self-government, and to realize their other human rights.

Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project was created as a cooperative effort between the University of Oklahoma College of Law Library  and the National Indian Law Library (NILL), to provide access to the tribal constitutions, codes, and other legal documents.

South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs, Native American Affairs Division establishes the framework to ensure social equity and economic prosperity for all Native American Indian citizens throughout the state of South Carolina through policy change, education, and increased awareness. Since 2003, the Commission has been committed to strengthening the relationships between South Carolina’s Native American Indian communities and government.

Indigenous Law Web Archive: Library of Congress. This is the Indigenous Law web archive of the Law Library of Congress. The Law Library collects and preserves primary law sources of Indigenous nations, which are sovereign governments by treaty with the United States.

Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law (1945) (full text searchable PDF maintained by University of Oklahoma). There have been subsequent editions of this Handbook published, which are available in various libraries, including the UofSC Law Library, KF 8205 .C6 2012 (but not available for free online).

Selected Journals, Articles & News

This is a selection of journals, news sources and articles related to Indian Law. Others may be found by searching the library catalog, and the internet.

Journals

American Indian Law Review serves as a nationwide scholarly forum for analysis of developments in legal issues pertaining to Native Americans and indigenous peoples worldwide.

American Indian Law Journal is an academic collaboration among students, faculty, and practitioners. AILJ is designed to fill a critical gap in the amount of current scholarship available to those interested in the rapidly developing field of Indian law.

American Indian Culture and Research Journal (available online via the UofSC library catalog) is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary journal designed for scholars and the general public. The premier journal in Native American studies, it publishes book reviews, literature, and original scholarly papers on a wide range of issues in the fields of history, anthropology, geography, sociology, political science, health, literature, law, education, and the arts. It is published by the American Indian Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Articles:

Lessons from the Third Sovereign: Indian Tribal Courts, The Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, 33 Tulsa L.J. 1 (1997) Also available on Westlaw [login required].

“Today, in the United States, we have three types of sovereign entities--the Federal government, the States, and the Indian tribes. Each of the three sovereigns has its own judicial system, and each plays an important role in the administration of justice in this country. The part played by the tribal courts is expanding. As of 1992, there were about 170 tribal courts, with jurisdiction encompassing a total of perhaps one million Americans.”

Whatever Tribal Precedent There May Be': The (Un)Availability of Tribal Law by Bonnie Schucha. 106 Law Library Journal 199 (2014).  [link to UofSC Law Library Catalog – article available online from several sources.]

This article explores the costs and benefits of publishing tribal law. Part I analyzes why tribal law is not more widely available; part II illustrates the benefits of making tribal law more accessible, and part III describes publication options for tribes. An appendix lists currently available tribal law collections.

Land Into Trust: An Inquiry into Law, Policy, and History, by Frank Pommersheim,49 Idaho L. Rev. 519, 520 (2013)

The land-into-trust policy of the Indian Reorganization Act (“IRA”)1 is an express legislative attempt to undo, or at least ameliorate, the massive loss of Indian land that resulted from the federal government’s allotment policy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Researching American Indian Tribal Law by David E. Selden. 43 The Colorado Lawyer 2, pg 51. (2014).

Basic tips for researching Indian Law.

Digitizing Tribal Law: How Codification Projects Such As Tribal Law Online Could Give New Rise to American Indian Sovereignty,(Note) by Jacob Franchek, 94 Wash. U.L. Rev. 1025 (2017)  Also available on Westlaw [login required].

The author argues that by tribes making their laws accessible online will advance American Indian sovereignty in the United States.  He uses a project with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Center for Empirical Research in the Law (CERL),  at the Washington University School of Law as an example.

Native Nations and The Constitution: An Inquiry into “Extra-Constitutionality" by Angela Riley. 130 Harv. L. Rev. F. 173 (2017).  (link to HeinOnLine, but also available from the Harvard Law Review Forum site)

Federal Indian law is oftentimes characterized as a niche and discrete area of law, but this depiction really misstates the breadth
and relevance of the field.

Indigenizing Professional Responsibility: The Role of Ethics in Tribal Courts by Lauren van Schilfgaarde, 59 Judges’ J. 6, 7 (2020)

As in other courts, Tribal Court ethical rules serve a variety of useful purposes. The ability to “check” unethical advocates can actually serve to attract advocates to the Tribal Court. A judiciary with clear rules that are evenly and consistently enforced project a stable  judiciary. ... Knowing that an advocate’s integrity will be valued and protected is a selling point.

The Other American Law, by Elizabeth Reese 73 STAN. L. REV. 555, 622-23 (2021)

American legal scholarship focuses almost exclusively on federal, state, and local law. However, there are 574 federally recognized tribal governments within the United States, whose laws are largely ignored.

Professionalism in tribal jurisdictions by Matthew L.M, Fletcher. Professionalism in Tribal Jurisdictions, 101 Mich. B.J. 24, 26 (2022).

This article discusses several themes of professionalism in tribal practice, drawing on the author’s tribal law experience.

The Specter of Indian Removal: The Persistence of State Supremacy Arguments in Federal Indian Law. by W. Tanner Allread, 123 COLUM. L. REV. 6, 1533. October 2023 

News

News Sources:

NARF Legal Review is published semi-annually and provides updates on NARF’s cases and information on other timely Indian law topics. There is no charge for subscriptions to the Legal Review, but contributions are greatly appreciated.

National Indian Law Library - Indian Law News Bulletins are a current awareness service of the National Indian Law Library. The purpose of the Indian Law Bulletins is to provide succinct and timely information about new developments in Indian Law. See the "about" page for each bulletin for specific information on monitoring, content selection criteria, and timeliness of publication.

Turtle Talk (blog)  The leading blog on legal issues in Indian Country.

Law360 Native American Newsletter provides news related to Native American legal issues.  ( Lexis login required)

ICT is an independent, nonprofit, multimedia news enterprise. We reach audiences through our digital platform and as a broadcast carried via public television stations. ICT covers Indigenous peoples.

 

Podcasts

This Land podcast hosted by Rebecca Nagle. Available on Apple and Spotify as well as other streaming services; it is also linked directly from Crooked Media

Indian Law: The Constitution, Treaties, and Economic Development with Prof. Robert Miller.  ASU Law Student Radio [podcast]. Interview by Sam Lederman. Sept. 13, 2023