November was American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month and all month we were highlighting resources to learn more about the historical and current issues American Indian and Alaskan Native people are facing. Below we recap those resources.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations have been issued every year since 1994. Celebrate with us as we explore the contributions and history of the Native people in the United States of America.
Selected Study Aids
Available via the West Academic study aid subscription, this guide provides a reliable resource on American Indian law. The text covers the essentials of this complex body of law, with attention to the governmental policies underlying it. The work emphasizes both the historical development of Federal Indian Law and recent matters such as the evolution of Indian gaming, issues arising under the Indian Child Welfare Act, and the present enforcement of treaty rights. It addresses the policy and law applicable to Alaska Natives, but does not deal with Native Hawai’ians.
Available via the West Academic study aid subscription, Fletcher’s Hornbook on Federal Indian Law is a deep survey of the history and substantive law governing the relations between the three American sovereigns, federal, state, and tribal. Interwoven are issues of federalism, administrative law, constitutional rights, and international relations. This hornbook includes original research and novel analysis of foundational Supreme Court decisions and critical federal statutory schemes – the stories beyond the stories. In addition to delving into the origins and histories of cases and statutes, the hornbook analyzes modern Indian rights settlements, the international and comparative frontiers of Indian law, and the future of the field.
Available via the West Academic study aid subscription, this book covers the often complex and unfamiliar doctrine of federal Indian law, exposing the raw conflicts over sovereignty and property that have shaped legal rulings. Fifteen distinguished authors describe gripping cases involving Indian nations over more than two centuries, each story emphasizing initiative in tribal communities and lawyering strategies that have determined the fate of nations.
Available via the West Academic study aid subscription, Fletcher’s Principles of Federal Indian Law covers the basics of federal Indian law, the relationships between tribal, state, and federal sovereigns, also touching on federalism, agency law, civil rights, and criminal jurisdiction aspects of Indian law. This concise hornbook offers comprehensive coverage of the blackletter law, with statutory, regulatory, and historical context. The origins behind important doctrines of Indian law and critical statutes are explored in detail.
Available via the Lexis OverDrive study aid subscription, Mastering American Indian Law provides readers with an overview of the field. By framing the important eras of U.S. Indian policy in the Introductory Chapter, the text flows through historical up to contemporary developments in American Indian Law. In ten Chapters, the book has full discussions of a wide range of topics, such as: Chapter 2 – American Indian Property Law; Chapter 3 – Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country; Chapter 4 – Tribal Government, Civil Jurisdiction and Regulation; Chapter 8 – Tribal-State Relations; and Chapter 9 – Sacred Sites and Cultural Property Protection. Throughout the text, explanations of the relevant interaction between tribal governments, the federal government and state governments are included in the various subject areas. In Chapter 10 – International Indigenous Issues and Tribal Nations, the significant evolution of collective rights in international documents is focused upon as these documents may be relevant for tribal governments in relations with the United States.
Selected Databases & Digital Collections
Explore manuscripts, artwork and rare printed books dating from the earliest contact with European settlers right up to photographs and newspapers from the mid-twentieth century. Browse through a wide range of rare and original documents from treaties, speeches and diaries, to historic maps and travel journals.
Bibliography of Native North Americans (BNNA) is a bibliographic database covering all aspects of native North American culture¸ history¸ and life. This resource covers a wide range of topics including archaeology¸ multicultural relations¸ gaming¸ governance¸ legend¸ and literacy. BNNA contains more than 80¸000 citations for books¸ essays¸ journal articles¸ and government documents of the United States and Canada. Dates of coverage for included content range from the sixteenth century to the present.
Ethnic NewsWatch (ENW) is a current resource of full-text newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press, providing researchers access to essential, often overlooked perspectives. The complete collection also includes the module Ethnic NewsWatch: A History™, which provides historical coverage of Native American, African American, and Hispanic American periodicals from 1959-1989. Together, these resources present an unmatched, comprehensive, full-text collection of more than 2.5 million articles from over 340 publications. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the resources is the inclusion of unique community publications not found in any other database, as well as top scholarly journals on ethnicities and ethnic studies.
Independent Voices is an open access digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals, drawn from the special collections of participating libraries. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw an increase of Native American activism and the rise of “Red Power” as an activist movement demanding greater educational and economic opportunities and tribal rights. At the same time, U.S. policy toward Native American tribes provided greater opportunities for indigenous people to manage local government and local issues. This led to the establishment of an active Native American press, with publications like NARP Newsletter, Many Smokes, and Native Movement, that championed such key issues as Native American rights, religious freedom, equal education, and preserving community, language and tribal sovereignty.
McKenney & Hall: History of the Indian Tribes of North America is a collection of 125 images of lithographic and chromolithographic plates. Thomas Loraine McKenney (1785-1859) served as Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1824 to 1830. In that capacity he commissioned and collected portraits of Native Americans for his Gallery in the War Department. McKenney’s goal was to publish a record of vanishing peoples: portraits, biographical sketches and a history of North American Indians. He accomplished this in the first issue of the History of the Indian Tribes of North America, published in three volumes between 1838 and 1844. James Hall (1793-1868) provided the text. A supplemental bibliography to McKenney & Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America is available.
Selected Collections of Legal Materials
This collection offers detailed contemporaneous documentation of political, military, and governmental activities related to indigenous peoples of the continental United States and Alaskan territory during the 19th century. These government documents were scanned from the print collections of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the University of Oklahoma Libraries. They were identified using Steven L. Johnson’s bibliography, Guide to American Indian Documents in the Congressional Serial Set: 1817-1899, published by Clearwater Publishing Company in 1977.
While treaties between Indigenous peoples and the United States affect virtually every area in the USA, there is as yet no official list of all the treaties. The US National Archives holds 374 of the treaties, where they are known as the Ratified Indian Treaties. Here you can view them for the first time with key historic works that provide context to the agreements made and the histories of our shared lands.
The free Indigenous Governance Database (IGD) features online educational and informational resources on tribal self-governance and tribal policy reform that: Foster Native nation building; Promote tribal sovereignty; Disseminate Indigenous data; Encourage tribal leadership development; Support the development of capable governing institutions; Highlight sustainable economic and community development in Indian Country.
The Law Library of Congress collects and preserves primary law sources of Indigenous nations, which are sovereign governments by treaty with the United States. At the time this collection started, there are 578 tribes and 92 agencies. This archive includes constitutions of a number of sovereign nations, including Navajo Nation, Muscogee Nation, Cherokee Nation, Comanche Nation, Hopi Tribe, etc. and ordinances, Supreme Court papers, court rules and forms for criminal, civil and family courts, and wellness courts. Tribal executive orders, emergency orders, ordinances and legislation are included in this collection as well. Tribes, nations, bands, communities and rancherias do communicate with their citizens by social media and at times when that was the sole source of legal documentation, we have targeted social media sites for capture where possible.
The Law Library of Congress holds most of the laws and constitutions from the early 19th century produced by the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole who were forced to leave the Southeast for the Indian Territory after passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830. Some of these documents are in the vernacular languages of the tribes. This collection includes 19th century items and those constitutions and charters drafted after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. The digital portion of this collection is a work in progress but many of the works have been digitized.
The 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. The University of Oklahoma College of Law Library partnered with the National Indian Law Library to acquire and digitize these materials at a time when tribal documents were very difficult to find. Tribal documents were shared with permission from the National Indian Law Library or donated directly by tribal members. Other materials included are federal government documents in the public domain or publications shared with the permission of their creators.
The National Indian Law Library (NILL) is a law library devoted to American Indian law. It serves both the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the public. NILL serves the public by developing and making accessible a unique and valuable collection of Indian law resources and by providing direct research assistance and delivery of information.The Tribal Law Gateway provides access to tribal law – which includes the codes, constitutions, intergovernmental agreements, and legal opinions of Native governments.
Every year numerous bills are considered by state legislatures that can affect tribal communities. These bills address a variety of issues including the environment, education, health care, taxes/revenue, including gaming and education. View introduced, pending and enacted legislation for the current legislative session here.
The Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) is a Native American operated non-profit corporation organized to design and deliver 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. The 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.
This database includes agreements between tribal nations and the United States (1778-1886) published in the 1904 work “Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties” (Volume II), compiled and edited by Charles J. Kappler. As you view the treaties in this database, editorial margin notes are included. Links to Kappler’s original text and digitized treaties held at the National Archives can also be found throughout the site. Finally, a recently updated, comprehensive index complements this work.
Selected Sources Learn More About Native American Communities
The ABA Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council is proud to launch a 21-Day Native American Heritage Equity Habit Building Challenge syllabus in honor of National Native American Month. ABA members and non-members are invited to participate in this Equity Habit-Building Challenge. The goal of the Challenge is to assist each of us to become more aware, compassionate, constructive, engaged people in the quest for equity, and specifically to learn more about the Native American communities.
A presentation featuring leaders in activism and the legal profession who are of Native American Heritage.
The NCAI Policy Research Center’s mission is to lead, conduct, and translate high quality policy research and data to improve outcomes for Indian Country.
This PBS Western Reserve multimedia project studies the rich cultural and historical heritage of the Native American nations that have populated Ohio since prehistoric times.
U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month: November 2022
This Facts for Features presents statistics for American Indian and Alaska Native population, one of the six major race categories defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.