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American Indian Law

An introduction to American Indian Law with numerous links to helpful sources.

Key Resources

National Indian Law Library, part of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). "The National Indian Law Library (NILL) of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is a public law library devoted to federal Indian and tribal law. NILL serves the public by developing and making accessible a unique and valuable collection of Indian law resources and assisting people with their Indian law-related information needs. NILL offers a number of Indian Law News Bulletins covering federal and state jurisdictions, federal regulations and legislation, law reviews, and general news sources. Updates are published usually on a weekly basis and are available here on our home page or from the NILL blog, with the option of RSS feed or email delivery. " (from their website)


In 2017 and 2018, the Native American Voting Rights Coalition—founded by the Native American Rights Fund—held nine public hearings to better understand how Native Americans are systemically and culturally kept from fully exercising their franchise. The final report, Obstacles at Every Turn: Barriers to Political Participation Faced by Native American Voters, was released June 4, 2020, and provides detailed evidence that Native people face obstacles at every turn in the electoral process: from registering to vote, to casting votes, to having votes counted.


Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project, from the University of Oklahoma's collection of Native American resources

The classic resource for modern Federal Indian Law is Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law.
LAW RESERVE 2nd floor  KF 8205 .C6 2012 (also available on Lexis; login required)

Key Words and Subject Headings

The Library of Congress uses the term(s) Indians of North America (Indians of North America -- Legal status, laws, etc), and Indians of South America as the general Subject headings when researching the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere. Use of the more specific terms will yield better results when researching American Indians such as the Lakota (Sioux), Cherokee, for example.
Research terms will also depend on more intermediate terms as used by specific governments when referring to the indigenous peoples within State borders. Some examples are:

United States - American Indians or Native Americans
Canada - First Nations, Aboriginals, Indians
Australia - Aborigines / Aboriginal Peoples
New Zealand - Maori

Names / Spellings
There are over 560 official Federally recognized tribal nations: Federally Recognized Tribes.

American Indian Databases

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