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.