RESEARCHING AMERICAN INDIAN LAW
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]
MAJOR LEGISLATIVE ACTS
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
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"
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
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
Select Committee on Indian Affairs [LOCATION :
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources [LOCATION :
Committee on Natural Resources [LOCATION : MICROFICHE
Subcommittee on Native American Affairs [LOCATION :
MICROFICHE Y4.R 31/3].
Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs [LOCATION :
LOCATING COURT DECISIONS
Indian Territory Reports : cases
determined in the United States Court of Appeals for the Indian
Territory. [LOCATION : HIST, state section,
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
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
LOCATING KS & MO STATE LAWS
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].
LOCATING LAWS AND TREATIES
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 :
Indian Affairs : Laws and Treaties, 2nd
Ed.,Volume 1- 7. [LOCATION : KF8203 1975]
Indian Treaties 1778-1883, [LOCATION : KF8202
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]
COMPUTER ASSISTED RESEARCH
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
-- Native Americans Law service includes several Native American
- 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, ONLINE CATALOG
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
· Indians of North
· Indians of North
--Civil rights --Legal status, laws, etc.
--Constitutional law --Land tenure
--Government relations --Removal
· Name of tribe
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.
INTERNET RESOURCES (Fed. & State)
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
The Library of Congress (http://lcweb.gove/global/legislative/official.html#lc).
GPO ACCESS (http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/alphabet.html)
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) (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/about-cfr.html#page1).
U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice
Contains a wealth of statistical information on Native Americans and
Academic webpages serve as gateways for a variety of
legal research. Two popular sites for legal research are Cornell. Which
can be found at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/index/html,
and Washburn, which can be found at: http://www.washlaw.edu/.
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.
NATIVE AMERICAN WEBSITES
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
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
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
- Native American Constitution and Law Digitization
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 http://www.wolfsden.org/nacctr)
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
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]
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
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.
Nancy D. Stancel