Libraries and Legal Research
American-Indian Legal Resources on the Web
by Lance M. Werner and Jane M. Edwards
conducting legal research on an unfamiliar legal topic, it may be useful
for a legal researcher to initially utilize wide-scoped research tools.
Some electronic resources that may be particularly useful when researching
American-Indian legal issues are the myriad of mega-sites that are available
free of charge and offer a wide range of American-Indian legal topics.
Some of the electronic resources that cover a broad variety of legal
issues including American-Indian law are FindLaw, which is located at
21indian/index.html, and MegaLaw.com’s Native American Law,
which is located at http://www.megalaw.com/top/native.php.
FindLaw site contains information about several topics related to American-Indian
legal issues. The topics listed include links for finding Native Peoples
Attorneys and firms, expert witnesses and consultants, American-Indian
electronic resources, and a web guide for American-Indian legal information.
electronic resource that may be useful is MegaLaw.com’s Native
American Law, at http://www.megalaw.com/top/native.php.
This broad site contains a variety of links to information about various
American-Indian legal topics including Supreme Court decisions, American-Indian
law regulations and statutes, American-Indian organizations and resources,
American-Indian Tribal websites, and also links to related message boards.
Info at http://www.academicinfo.net/nativeamlaw.html,
is another broad electronic resource that may be useful to researchers.
The Academic Info American-Indian Law website contains an expansive listing
of links to a variety of American-Indian topics including American-Indian
law and related subjects. There are links to American-Indian Studies—Digital
Law Library, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Native American Rights Fund, and
WWW Virtual Library’s Index of Native American Legal Resources
on the Internet at http://www.hanksville.org/NAresources/indices/NAlegal.html
is another extensive listing of links to American-Indian legal topics.
The links have been grouped into subtopics under the broad heading Legal
Sources related to Indigenous Issues. Some of the subtopic titles are
United States Native American resources, College Programs Devoted to
Indigenous Legal Issues, Legal Practices with Indian Law Specialties,
General International, and Canada Native American legal resources.
Web’s site at http://www.nativeweb.org/resources/law_legal_issues/
contains a brief list of websites that focus on American-Indian legal
issues such as cases and controversies; government documents and resources;
and speeches, articles, and essays. It should be noted that the Native
Web website’s content is not limited strictly to legal information
and there are links to a variety of other information relating to American
the mega sites are a great resource for commencing the research process,
there are other electronic resources that are also helpful. Government
informational sources are the next broad category of electronic resources
that may help when conducting legal research on American-Indian topics.
legal issues are dominated by federal law, and fortunately many federal-law-related
sources are now available online for free. One of the best websites for
researching American-Indian federal laws and regulations is Cornell’s
Legal Information Institute. The Cornell Legal Information Institute has
created a special web page devoted to American-Indian law, which includes
an overview of American-Indian law and links to American-Indian statutes,
regulations, case law, and secondary sources. The website is located at:
excellent website for researching American-Indian federal law is the
U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: http://indian.senate.gov/index.html.
This website is particularly useful for researching new and pending
American-Indian legislation, and it includes a surprising amount of
information such as hearing transcripts, legislative updates, and an
extensive set of links to various government agencies.
Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is a non-profit organization that
provides legal representation and guidance to American-Indian Tribes,
organizations, and individuals. NARF’s website, http://www.narf.org,
is a valuable resources for monitoring new and pending legal action
affecting American-Indian laws, rights, and lands.
National Indian Law Library (NILL) is an affiliate of NARF and, according
to NILL’s mission statement NILL is ‘‘a public law library
devoted to federal Indian and tribal law.’’ This comprehensive
website focuses on federal and state primary materials and provides access
to many free American-Indian secondary sources. NILL’s home page
is located at: http://www.narf.org/nill/Nillindex.html,
and the legal research materials may be found at http://www.narf.org/nill/rlinks.htm.
other American-Indian legal organizations that might be of interest are
The National Native American Bar Association, http://www.nativeamericanbar.org/;
The Tribal Court Clearinghouse, http://www.tribal-institute.org/;
and The National American Indian Court Judges Association, http://www.naicja.org/.
organizations are using the Internet to make tribal laws available to
the public for free. One of the most comprehensive websites for tribal
constitutions, codes, and laws is the Native American Constitution and
Law Digitization Project. This website is a joint effort between NILL
and the University of Oklahoma Law Center. The librarians at NILL and
the University of Oklahoma Law Library have painstakingly collected
and digitized the constitutions and codes of various American-Indian Tribes
and they are currently in the process of digitizing many more tribal documents.
The website for the digitization project is http://thorpe.ou.edu.
Another source for tribal codes and constitutions is the Wisconsin Judicare’s
Indian Law Office. This website includes links to tribal constitutions,
codes and laws from across the nation http://www.judicare.org/triballaw.html.
are also electronic resources that are specifically tailored to American-Indian
Tribes in Michigan. Contact information for American-Indian Tribes in
Michigan can be accessed through the 500 Nations Native American Super
Site at http://www.500nations.com/Michigan_Tribes.asp.
Another site that may be useful is the Native American Indian Resources
This site contains links to various Michigan American-Indian Tribes
and also a map of the locations of federally recognized American-Indian
Tribes in Michigan, available at http://www.kstrom.net/isk/maps/mi/michigan.html.
Some other sites that may be of use when conducting research are the
Michigan Indian Legal Services at http://www.mils.org/,
the Michigan Victim Assistance for Native American Nations site at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/help/nat/mi.htm,
and also the Tribal Court Clearing House site at
The websites that have been listed are only a few of the resources that
are available. There are numerous electronic resources that can be found and
are available on the web. These resources can be located through the
use of search engines such as Google at www.google.com
and Dogpile at http://www.dogpile.com/.
websites are an excellent source for monitoring new and evolving legal
issues and one of the best news sites for American- Indian law is Indianz.com
at http://www.indianz.com. This
website provides daily news coverage of American-Indian issues primarily
focused on political and legal topics.
more scholarly news website is the Tribal Law Journal, published by the
University of New Mexico Law School, located at http://tlj.unm.edu.
This is a relatively new journal and its mission is to ‘‘provide
a reliable forum for the discussion of internal indigenous law.’’
Full text access to most articles is available and the website also includes
a multimedia section with video clips and transcripts.
are an important part of any legal research project and the best-known
treatise on American-Indian law is the Handbook of Federal Indian Law,
by Felix S. Cohen. The handbook is available online at the Native American
Constitution and Law Digitization Project, http://thorpe.ou.edu.
Internet continues to be an important component of legal research, and
this is especially true with regard to American-Indian law. Many American-Indian
legal materials that were once considered obscure are now readily available
through the web, and new resources are constantly being added. Clearly,
the Internet will continue to be a powerful tool for conducting American-Indian
thanks to Donald ‘‘Del’’ Laverdure, Assistant
Professor of Law at the Michigan State University College of Law,
for his insight and advice on this topic.
Lance M. Werner, a member of the Committee on Libraries, Legal Research and Legal Publication, works for the State of Michigan as a Law Library Consultant. Previously, he was a Reference Librarian at MSU Law Library. He earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, a J.D. from MSU, and a M.L.I.S. from Wayne State University. He can be reached at (517) 333-7165 or at Lwerner25@hotmail.com.
Jane Edwards is the Head of Faculty and Public Services Librarian at the Michigan State University College of Law. She has a B.B.A. in accounting from Western Michigan University, a J.D. from the University of Detroit Mercy Law School, and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University. She is a member of the State Bar and a member of the Committee on Libraries, Legal Research, and Legal Publications.
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