December 20, 2007

New at the Library

New tribal code: The Library recently obtained permission to post The Law and Order Code of the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming. The Code is one of more than 100 tribal legal documents available at the Library's web site.

Economic summit materials: The National Congress of American Indians is providing white papers from the National Native American economic policy summit : Phoenix Arizona at its web site. Conference proceedings, which the Library collects, often offer a wealth of research material on current issues of importance to Indian Country.

December 3, 2007

Tribal law online

Each week the Library looks for new tribal law web sites and tribal laws that have been published on the Internet by the various federally recognized tribal governments.

From Sept. 2006 - Aug. 2007, we have found 23 new tribal web sites, 21 new constitutions posted online and 12 new codes posted online.

Access these laws as well as other tribal laws. All information is available at the National Indian Law Library's Tribal Code & Constitution Directory -- the A-Z List at the Tribal Law Gateway.

Search our site more efficiently

This month we launched a new search engine for our web site, donated to NARF by ISYS Search Software. The search interface is still under development, but still offers great improvements over our previous search engine.

Now you can search parts of the NARF web site in addition to the entire site, with a powerful search engine that lets you select search screens, search terms within proximity of each other, and preview highlighted results. Especially helpful to web site users is the ability to isolate large segments of our site, such as the tribal law collection or the ICWA web guide to conduct research. From any NARF page, click on "Search".

Note that the Library's collection of materials must still be searched using the catalog at

As we continue to customize ISYS to fit our web site, we welcome suggestions for improvement or general comments. Send Emails to

October 8, 2007

Federal Recognition Resources

To research the federal recognition (aka federal acknowledgment) process for American Indian tribes at the National Indian Law Library, start at this web page:

A list of tribes recognized as of 2007 is linked, in addition to Bureau of Indian Affairs Acknowledgment Database showing the status of tribes. (last updated August, 2004)

The library has numerous materials on federal recognition. Go to the library's catalog ( and type "federal recognition" in the subject field. A new book at the library on this process is Forgotten tribes : unrecognized Indians and the federal acknowledgment process / Mark Edwin Miller. Federal recognition documents for various tribes can be found, and numerous journal articles on the acknowledgment process.

Contact the library for more assistance.

October 5, 2007

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act

BOULDER, CO-NARF is proud to announce the publication of its new "Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act." The Guide, available both on the Internet and in print, is a powerful resource tool for tribal, state and federal entities involved in Indian child custody proceedings. Among the wealth of contents and resources is frequently asked questions with answers falling under 22 topics, including:

Application of the ICWA
Who has rights under the Act
Role of Tribal Courts
Tribal State Agreements
Foster placement & removal

The Internet version, available at, also contains more than 1,000 full-text resources.

The ICWA Practical Guide Project was generously funded by the Administration for Native Americans, with supplemental funding by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and supported by NICWA as a key partner. NARF and an Advisory Board-made up of multi-disciplinary team consisting of members of tribal courts, tribal ICWA departments, state governments, Indian law practitioners, Native non-profit organizations, law firms and urban Indian centers-provided guidance on the comprehensive content of the guide. To order a copy of the Guide, print a free copy, or access the expanded Internet edition, please visit:

September 19, 2007

Federal Indian Law and Tribal Law Research Guides Updated 9/07

The Library has updated two important Guides to doing Indian law research

Indian law is a growing area of law, as many of the more than 560 federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native Villages exercise their sovereignty and self-governance, as well as develop their economies. Many western states have significant populations of American Indians, and trust lands cover more than fifty-five million acres in the United States. A sign of the growing importance of Indian law is that the New Mexico, South Dakota and Washington State Bar Associations have decided to add a question on Indian law on their state bar exams. This article, set out in two parts, and originally published in the Colorado Lawyer, attempts to provide some practical tips for the Indian law researcher. Part I focuses on federal Indian law research. Although hundreds of pages could be written on researching federal Indian law, this article focuses on providing basic tips related to common questions received by the National Indian Law Library (“ NILL” ) and the best sources of information to answer those questions.

Part II focuses on tribal law research. Tribal law is law developed by the tribes, which applies within their territories and to their members. Tribal law can be a difficult area of law to research, because few primary and secondary resources are published or distributed to the public. Despite the lack of commercial publication, tribal law resources have become more accessible in the past six years, primarily on the Internet. However, locating the right resources often requires patience and tenacity and the skilled researcher should be aware of who to contact for assistance.

August 28, 2007

Two new books on the state of Native American Nations

Two new books discuss the state of Native American Nations. American Indian Nations: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow discusses myriad topics from tribal nationalism to educational initiatives and challenges. Several chapters address environmental issues, voting rights and the Native media. NARF Staff Attorney Walter Echo-Hawk, Jr. wrote the chapter titled "An Overview and Patterns in Federal Indian Law."

From the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development comes the book The State of the Native Nations: Conditions Under U.S. Policies of Self-Determination. The book covers tribal government and jurisdiction; relations between tribal governments and federal and state governments; and topics such as the environment, gaming, health, culture, and education.

For researchers, the library recommends these books and others listed at

August 16, 2007

New Tribal Law Materials

This week the Library received permission to post the Constitution and Waganakising Odawa Tribal Code of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Both documents can be found at our online tribal laws web page. From the same web page you can also access an updated copy of the Swinomish Tribal Code. And at the bottom of the web page is a link to Gaming Ordinances of Tribes, posted at the web site of the National Indian Gaming Commission.

July 23, 2007

New resource - Guide for Tribal Court Law Clerks and Judges

A Guide for Tribal Court Law Clerks and Judges is a recent publication of the University of Colorado law school. It includes practical information such as "the benefits of clerkship," "how to best work with a law clerk," and sample forms and letters to help make a new or existing tribal court law clerk program run smoothly.

The book was co-authored by Jill Tompkins, the Director of the American Indian Law Clinic at the University of Colorado. She has also served as a tribal court judge and as the president of the National American Indian Court Judges Association.

The book is available via a free download.

See information about the American Indian Law Program (which is the umbrella over the Indian Law Clinic.) at

July 9, 2007

Tribal Resolutions on Climate Change From Alaska Native Tribes & Villages

Global warming is wreaking havoc in Alaska. In February 2006, during the Alaska Forum on the Environment, Alaska Native participants described increased forest fires, more dangerous hunting, fishing and traveling conditions, visible changes in animals and plants, infrastructure damage from melting permafrost and coastal erosion, fiercer winter storms, and pervasive unpredictability. (Dan Joling, Associated Press, 2/7/07). Because of these and other dramatic changes, traditional knowledge is jeopardized, as are cultural structures and the nutritional needs of Alaska's indigenous peoples.

The Native American Rights Fund, which the library is a part of, successfully gathered 162 Tribal and Corporate Resolutions calling on Congress and the Executive Office to adopt legislation reducing carbon emissions. The resolutions were carried to Washington, D.C. by tribal leaders and presented to the Alaska Delegation on Climate Change Crisis Day, March 20th and 21st. A successful meeting with Congressman Markey followed and resulted in interest to convene hearings on climate change impacts on indigenous peoples.
To read more, visit our case update page on the Global Warming Project, and read the resolutions from the tribes.

June 29, 2007

New at the library

Draft tribal resolution : electing to participate in the National Sex Offender Registry System by the National Congress of American Indians. Regarding the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

Model rules of professional conduct by the Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation.

Access both by going to the library's online catalog.

May 21, 2007

EPA documents at the library

Last year, several regional libraries of the Environmental Protection Agency were closed, leaving the status of numerous documents and materials uncertain. In February, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hosted an oversight hearing regarding the library closures and the possible disposal of various documents. A full summary of the closures can be found at Information Today's web site.

The National Indian Law Library has approximately 130 materials that are EPA-related. They are either authored by the EPA, or the subject matter is related to the EPA. The library also monitors the Environmental Protection Agency's web site for materials having to do with tribes and environmental management. Library researchers can access this information by using the library's online catalog.

May 15, 2007

DOI & EPA Issue Report on Tribal Protection of the Environment

"Tribal Successes: Protecting the Environment and Natural Resources" was published earlier this month. This 42 page report was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior and the Offices of Inspector General. It highlights successful innovative practices of 14 different tribes who overcame legal and regulatory issues, resource limitations, and communication problems to acheive environment and natural resources protection goals.

May 8, 2007

Briefing Paper on Methamphetamines Discusses Tribal Solutions

A briefing paper from the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) discusses tribal initiatives to combat the problem of methamphetamine trafficking and use in tribal communities. Published at NCAI's web site, the paper discusses new anti-meth criminal codes and cooperative agreements between tribes and nearby cities, among other solutions. Contact information for tribal leaders, whose initiatives are discussed, is provided. Titled "Methamphetamines in Indian Country: an American Problem Uniquely Affecting Indian Country," the briefing paper was published in November 30, 2006 and is at NCAI's web site. It was also reprinted in the December 2006 issue of Native American Law Digest.

April 27, 2007

Action in the Supreme Court on two Indian law cases

The Court issued a decision in the Zuni Public School District, et al. v. Department of Education, et al. case on 4/17/07.

Petition for writ of certiorari was denied on 4/16/07 in Davidson v. Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.

Read about these cases in the library's Supreme Court Bulletin.

April 24, 2007

Climate Change and its Effects on Native Peoples in Alaska

We have just posted a significant update to our selected list of resources entitled: "Climate Change and its Effects on Native Peoples in Alaska." This list focuses on studies, reports, and articles relating to global warming Native Peoples in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. It also provides citations to many of the major studies on climate change. Links are available for many of the resources found on the web. NARF is becoming active in this important area and will be discussing its future role at our next board meeting on May 4.


February 6, 2007

Supreme Court Bulletin Updated

On January 17, 2007, a petition for writ of certiorari was filed in the following case: Burgess v. Watters. Read about it at the library's Supreme Court Indian Law Bulletin.

How to Build a Tribal Legal History

The library hosts a new web site tool: "How to Build a Tribal Legal History"

"Every American Indian tribe and Alaska Native village has a unique legal history. As self-governing sovereigns, these entities are empowered to develop and implement their own internal laws and legal systems."

Created by Nancy Carol Carter -- Professor of Law and Director of the Pardee Legal Research Center, University of San Diego School of Law -- this new web resource tool describes a step-by-step process for finding the documents needed to build a tribal legal history. At each of the five steps, researchers are guided to the most authoritative electronic and print sources, offering alternative sources when available. The project was supported by an American Association of Law Libraries, Lexis/Nexis Research Grant. Professor Carter has written extensively on on Native American law. Comments, corrections, and suggestions are invited.

Tribal Law Gateway

The library improves access to hard-to-find tribal law documents through its improved Tribal Law Gateway: The National Indian Law Library's Tribal Law Gateway has a new look. Re-designed -- as an improved portal to the laws of the federally-recognized tribes, Alaska Native villages, and pueblos in the United States -- this area of our web site now brings together all of our research tips and tools in one place. Access has been improved to the hundreds of copies of codes, constitutions and other tribal law documents held by the library and found elsewhere.

From one web page, library researchers can access our:

  • research tips and guides,
  • A-Z directory for finding tribal laws and web sites,
  • print and online collections,
  • and more.

For tribal leaders, we have developed an informational web page about the library's efforts to collect tribal codes, constitutions, and compacts.

To use the Tribal Law Gateway today, go to, or click on "Tribal Law Gateway" from our home page.