American Indian law presents a complex combination of statutes, rules, regulations, tribal laws, treaties, and agency and judicial decisions. At the federal level, laws are recorded in Statutes at Large which is codified in Title 25 of the United States Code. Administrative decisions are reported in the Federal Register and codified in Title 25 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Tribal laws (constitutions and charters of individual tribes) can be found in the series "The Constitutions and Laws of the American Indian Tribes." [LOCATION : KF8228 .C903 date]


The following acts represent some of the major pieces of legislation that govern federal American Indian law.

United States Constitution (based on the) Articles of Confederation - Congress is granted the power to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes, President empowered to make treaties with the consent of the Senate.

Article I Section 8, clause 3

Article II Section 2

Article II Section 3

Article III Section 2, clause 1

Article IV Section 1, and 3

Trade and Intercourse Acts 1790-1834

1 Stat. 137 (1790)

2 Stat. 139 (1802)

4 Stat. 729 (1834)

General Allotment Act of 1887 or The Dawes Act; 24 Stat. 388. Allottees become United States citizens. The Secretary of the Interior can negotiate with tribes, disposition all "excess" land remaining after allotments for the purpose of non-Indian settlement.

Indian Removal Act of 1830, 25 U.S.C. 1988 § 174. Tribes east of the Mississippi were moved to the west under a "voluntary" program.

The Citizenship Act of 1924, 8 U.S.C.A. § 1401(b) (1924). Confers citizenship upon all Indians born within the United States.

Indian Reorganization Act (1928) or the Meriam Report, "The Problem of Indian Administration, 48 Stat. 984. Tribes should exist indefinitely. This law protected the Indian land base and ended the process of allotment and extended the trust period indefinitely.

Freedom from Federal Supervision Act (1953), 67 Stat. B132 (1953) - August 1, 1953, saw the end of Indians as wards of the U.S. Several tribes were "terminated" by statute.

Criminal Offenses and Civil Causes, State Jurisdiction Act. (1953); P.L. 280, 67 Stat. 588 (1953) Extended state civil and criminal jurisdiction to Indian country in five states (California, Nebraska, Minnesota, Oregon, Wisconsin, Arkansas (1950).

Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, 82 Stat. 77. Imposed upon tribes the Bill of Rights, amended under P.L. 280. States could no longer assume civil and criminal jurisdiction over Indian country. This reversed the policy to tribal self-determination, which continues today.

Indian Financing Act of 1974, 25 U.S.C.A. § 1451. This act provided a revolving loan fund to aid in the development of Indian resources.

Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, 25 U.S.C.A. § 450. Authorized the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare to enter contracts with tribes assuming responsibility for the administration of federal Indian programs.

Indian Tribal Government Tax Status Act of 1982, 96 Stat. 2607. Accorded tribes many of the federal tax advantages enjoyed by the states.


Several Congressional committees set policy for American Indian issues. Committees may hold hearings, produce reports, and create legislative history on any bill related to American Indian activities.


Select Committee on Indian Affairs [LOCATION : MICROFICHE Y.4In2]

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources [LOCATION : MICROFICHE Y4.En2]


Committee on Natural Resources [LOCATION : MICROFICHE Y1.1/8]

Subcommittee on Native American Affairs [LOCATION : MICROFICHE Y4.R 31/3].

Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs [LOCATION : MICROFICHE Y4.In8/14]



Indian Territory Reports : cases determined in the United States Court of Appeals for the Indian Territory. [LOCATION : HIST, state section, uncataloged]

Opinions of the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior Relating to Indian Affairs 1917-1974, 2 Volumes. [LOCATION : KF8225 .A75 U55 1979] Includes many unpublished decisions unavailable prior to this publication.

Decisions of the Interior Department in Public Land Cases, and Land Laws Passed by the Congress of the United States, [LOCATION : HIST HD181 .G39 1860]

Decisions of the Department of the Interior and General Land Office. [LOCATION: HIST KF5603.3 .A2]

Decisions of the Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. : DOI, 1936-1960, Vols. 56-67. Supt. Of Docs Number I 1.69. [LOCATION : KF5603.3 .A22]

Indian Law Reporter, Volume 18- (1991-). [LOCATION : KF8201.A3 I5] The set is


Most American Indian Law is regulated at the federal level, but Congress may allow state jurisdiction to prevail if no federal statutes apply to a given situation.

Kansas: Kansas American Indian laws are published in Kansas Statutes Annotated (K.S.A.). [LOCATION : REFERENCE, CORE, HIST, and KFK30 .A2]

Missouri: American Indian laws in the state of Missouri would be found in the Revised Statutes of Missouri (R.S.Mo.) and in Vernon's Annotated Missouri Statutes (V.A.M.S.). [LOCATION : Reference, CORE, HIST, and KFM7835 .A23].



Statutes at Large, Volume 7 includes a collection of Indian treaties for the years 1778-1842. Thereafter, Indian treaties continue to appear with other treaties in the regular volumes of the Statutes at Large. [LOCATION : KF50 .U5 ]

Annotated Statutes of the Indian Territory, Carter, Dorset. [LOCATION : HIST - uncataloged]

A Compilation of all the treaties between the United States and the Indian Tribes now in Force as Laws. [LOCATION : HIST KF8202 1873]

The Constitutions and Laws of the American Indian Tribes (series). [LOCATION : KF8228 .C503 date] Each series title encompasses the constitution/bylaws of a particular tribe.

Indian Territory Reports, Volumes 1-7. [LOCATION : HIST- state section, Oklahoma]

Oklahoma Indian Land Laws, [LOCATION : HIST- state section, uncataloged]

Opinions of the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior Relating to Indian Affairs 1917-1974, 2 Volumes. [LOCATION : KF8225 .A75 U55 1979] Includes many unpublished decisions not available prior to this publication.

Indian Affairs : Laws and Treaties. [LOCATION : KF8203 1903]

Indian Affairs : Laws and Treaties, 2nd Ed.,Volume 1- 7. [LOCATION : KF8203 1975]

Indian Treaties 1778-1883, [LOCATION : KF8202 1972a]

Laws Relating to the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. [LOCATION : E78 .O5 U6]

Rifle, Blanket and Kettle : Selected Indian Treaties and Laws. [LOCATION : KF8202 1985]



Westlaw and Lexis cover American Indian law including federal and state cases, statutes and regulations as well as secondary sources and current awareness materials. Access to these databases is restricted to UMKC law faculty, law school and law library staff and currently registered UMKC law students.


AMINDLR -- American Indian Law Review

CFR -- Code of Federal Regulations

CODES -- Statutes

FNAM-CS – Fed. Native Americans Law Cases

GENFED USCA -- United States Code Annot.

GFS -- Interior Board of Land Appeals (1971-)

IBIA -- Interior Board of Indian Appeals

NAM-TP -- Native Americans Law service includes several Native American periodicals)

OKTRIB-CS – Oklahoma Tribal Court Reports

USC -- United States Code (Current)

US-PL -- United States Public Laws

WLD-NPL – West’s Legal Dir., Indians


ALLREG -- Combined CFR and FEDREG files

CODES -- Federal and state codes

CFR -- Code of Federal Regulations

KSADMN Kansas Administrative Regs.

KSCODE -- Kansas Statutes Annotated

KSRGTR -- Kansas Regulation Tracking

MOCODE -- Missouri Statutes

MORGTR -- Missouri Regulation Tracking,

USCODE -- United States Code Service

IBLA -- Interior Board of Land Appeals

MEGA -- Combined federal and state cases

NEWS -- Contains several periodicals


MERLIN is the UMKC online card catalog. It contains records for monographic works such as handbooks, guides and nutshells, government documents, etc. In addition, periodicals are listed as a choice in the search menu. These materials may be most easily located by title keyword searching. The following subject headings also lead to many of the holdings in the American Indian law collection:

· Five civilized tribes

· Indians

· Indians--Government relations

· Indians of North America

· Indians of North America

--Civil rights --Legal status, laws, etc.

--Constitutional law --Land tenure

--Courts --Treaties

--Government relations --Removal


· Name of tribe

--Tribal government


Browsing the shelves

Books about American Indians will, for the most part fall, between the following two sets of call numbers: E77-E99 and KF8201-KF8228. In addition to print materials, MERLIN also carries holdings information on titles in microfiche format.


In recent years, Internet sites have added a tremendous volume of free legal information to the World Wide Web. There are several web sites that are relevant for Native American legal research.

The Library of Congress (http://lcweb.gove/global/legislative/official.html#lc).



In addition to legislative documents, THOMAS offers a rare books collection known as The Continental Congress Broadside Collection (253 titles) and the Constitutional Convention Broadside Collection (21 titles). Housed in the Library of Congress, these collections include 274 congressional documents several of which address treaties with Native American Tribes, and the creation of Superintendent’s Office for Indian Affairs.

United States code (USC)

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) & List of Sections Affected, & FR (Federal Register) (

U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. ( Contains a wealth of statistical information on Native Americans and crime.

Academic webpages serve as gateways for a variety of legal research. Two popular sites for legal research are Cornell. Which can be found at:, and Washburn, which can be found at:

Online information published by individual states and local governments has increased greatly over the past five years. To locate state pages use the generic online address of: http://www.state.**.us. Replace the "**" with the postal abbreviation of the state you are interesting in researching.


American Memory Project:

The Library of Congress is the sponsor of the American Memory Project. Many Native American documents from America’s Colonial period can be found in this database. For instance, it contains documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789 that defined treatment and policies towards aboriginal people.

Bureau of Indian Affairs  
"The BIA is the principal bureau, within the federal government, responsible for the administration of federal programs for federally recognized Indian tribes, and for promoting Indian self-determination. The Bureau has a trust responsibility to tribes.

Bureau of Reclamation 

"The Native American Affairs Office is responsible for developing and coordinating policy and technical guidelines for Reclamation's Native American Affairs program …"

Dusters Native American Page  

This site has an impressive list of hotlinks to other Native American sites such as the homepages of individual tribal nations. It includes links to government resources for Native Americans in the United States and Canada. It’s a good starting point to search for anything Native American.
Legislative Update (U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (

This is an excellent site that is a submenu on the THOMAS webpage. It is the Senate’s Committee on Indian Affairs page that lists pending or signed legislative bills. The site enables you to find comprehensive lists of Native American legislation (by date of the Congress) more quickly than by going through the main THOMAS site.

Native American Sites 

This site is maintained by an American Indian librarian at the University of Pittsburgh. She has organized her site by the following categories: Information on individual Native Nations, Native Organizations and Urban Indian Centers, Tribal Colleges, Native Studies Programs, and Indian Education, Languages, Indians in the military, native businesses, and other cultural events and aspects of American Indian life.

Native American Web  

Cooperative effort by the law libraries belonging to the Mid-America Consortium of Law Libraries. A comprehensive site that has pointers to Native American legal resources online including several digitization efforts. There are links to primary federal sites that encompass Native American issues. The site also contains references to listservs, news groups, and national organizations that are involved with tribal groups.

Native American Legal Materials Microfiche Collection

Washburn filmed public-domain titles listed in American Indian Legal Materials: A Union List compiled by Laura N. Gasaway, James L. Hoover, Dorothy M. The Washburn University School of Law Library began the project in 1995 with the intent to establish online access via its catalog to this unique collection.

Heritage Databank Consulting  

This is a research group that seeks out information on the history of the Western Canadian Native/Fur trade history. Its huge databank specializes in Western Canadian Native and historical information. In addition, the site contains (and maintains) files on over 1000 tribes and Indian genealogies and maintains a bulletin board service.

Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project  

This digitization project is a combined effort between The University of Oklahoma Law Library and the National Indian Law Library of the Native American Rights Fund. Provides access to Indian constitutions, charters, tribal codes and other Native American legal documents, such as treaties.

Native American Resource Center

Portrays Native Americans in a more objective light and tries to break stereotypes that exist about American Indians. It contains links to general Native American sites, Indian newletters and magazines and Indian Nations. It also links to sites that discuss Native American languages, environmental issues, indigenous culture and Native American literature.

NativeWeb (

NativeWeb is an international, nonprofit, educational organization that uses the Internet to provide information concerning aboriginal peoples world-wide. This site discusses native peoples’ use of computer technology to reach and provide resources, to mentor those interested in aboriginal culture. It’s scope is broad and many links are provided to Indian topics, including legal information.

Tribal Court Clearinghouse  

Developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, this site provides extensive information on all aspects of tribal life. It is a volunteer-centered site that is owned and operated by Native Americans. It focuses on Indian owned and operated non-profit corporation organized to design and develop "education, research, training, and technical assistance programs which promote the enhancement of justice in Indian country and the health, well-being, and culture of Native peoples".



A Bibliography of Indian Law Periodical Articles 1980-1991 [LOCATION : KF8201 .A1 J67]

American Indian Legal Materials : A Union List., [LOCATION : KF8201 .A1 G37]


The Encyclopedia of Native American Legal Tradition [LOCATION : KF8204 .E53 1998]

Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian, [LOCATION : E76.2 .R4 1986].


Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. [LOCATION : E93 .U5 H54 1982].

Many Nations: a Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Indian and Alaska Native Peoples of the United States. [LOCATION: Z1209.2 .U5 L53 1996].

The Rights of Indians and Tribes : the Basic ACLU Guide to Indian and Tribal Rights. [LOCATION : KF8210 .C5 P48 1992].


American Indian Civil Rights Handbook, Smith, Michael R. Washington, D.C. : United States Commission on Civil Rights, 1972. [LOCATION : KF8210 .C5 S6]

American Indian Law Deskbook : Conference of Western Attorneys General. Niwot : University Press of Colorado, c1993. [LOCATION : KF8205 .A76 1993]

Felix S. Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law, Cohen, Felix S. Albuquerque, N.M. : University of New Mexico Press, 1971. [LOCATION : KF8205 .C6 1971]

Felix S. Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law. [LOCATION : KF8205 .C6 1982]

Handbook of Federal Indian Law. [LOCATION : KF8205 .C6]

Your Right to Indian Welfare. [LOCATION: KF8224 .Z9 W3 1973]

Loose-Leaf Service

A looseleaf service reproduces the relevant primary sources in a particular field (statutes, decisions, regulations, rulings, etc), places them in topical arrangement, usually in three-ring binders that can be easily updated with replacement pages. The purpose of this service is to provide up-to-date information on legal matters.

Indian Law Reporter, Volume 18- (1991-) [LOCATION : KF8201.A3 I5]


American Indian Law in a Nutshell 3rd ed., 1998. [LOCATION : KF8205 .Z9 C36 1988 - Earlier editions are in the stacks]


American Indian Journal, Volume 1- (1975)- [LOCATION : K1 .M436]

American Indian Law Review, Volume 1- (1973)- [LOCATION : K1 .M437]

GAO documents, Volume 4-13 (1980-April 1998). [LOCATION : HIST Z7164.15 .F5 U495a. The United States General Accounting Office provides a catalog of reports, decisions, opinions, testimonies and speeches.



Prepared by
Nancy D. Stancel
May 2000