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American Indian Law

American Indian Law research is complex and challenging. This guide covers U.S. statutes, tribal codes, case law, and secondary sources.

What is a legal encyclopedia?

A legal encyclopedia systematically describes an entire body of legal doctrine. Legal encyclopedias are generally not viewed as a persuasive authority but as an introductory survey and a case-finding tool. Authors of legal encyclopedias do not criticize or comment on the law; instead, they attempt to summarize it clearly and concisely. I suggest using legal encyclopedias to gain a basic understanding of a topic's legal history and guidelines, along with collecting useful cases. 

Legal Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of American Indian Civil Rights

Individual demands for equality and civil rights are central themes in U.S. history and American Indian people are no exception. They have had to deal with white racism and its expression in local and national political institutions while trying to define the rights of individual Indians vis-a-vis their own tribal governments. The struggle has made their civil rights movement unique. This encyclopedia, designed to meet the curriculum needs of high school and college students, provides the most comprehensive, up-to-date coverage of American Indian civil rights issues. More than 600 entries cover a variety of perspectives, issues, individuals, incidents, and court cases central to an understanding of the history of civil rights among American Indian peoples.


The Encyclopedia of Native American Legal Tradition

Integrating American Indian law and Native American political and legal traditions, this encyclopedia includes detailed descriptions of nearly two dozen Native American Nations' legal and political systems such as the Iroquois, Cherokee, Choctaw, Navajo, Cheyenne, Creek, Chickasaw, Comanche, Sioux, Pueblo, Mandan, Wyandot, Powhatan, Mikmaq, and Yakima. Although not an Indian law casebook, this work does contain outlines of many major Indian law cases, congressional acts, and treaties. It also contains profiles of individuals important to the evolution of Indian law. This work will be of interest to scholars in several fields, including law, Native American studies, American history, political science, anthropology, and sociology.


Indian Treaties in the United States: An Encyclopedia and Documents Collection 


"This book examines the treaties that promised self-government, financial assistance, cultural protections, and land to the more than 565 tribes of North America (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada). Prior to contact with Europeans and, later, Americans, American Indian treaties assumed unique dimensions, often involving lengthy ceremonial meetings during which gifts were exchanged. Europeans and Americans would irrevocably alter the ways in which treaties were negotiated: for example, treaties no longer constituted oral agreements but rather written documents, though both parties generally lacked understanding of the other's culture. The political consequences of treaty negotiations continue to define the legal status of the more than 565 federally recognized tribes today. These and other aspects of treaty-making will be explored in this single-volume work, which serves to fill a gap in the study of both American history and Native American history. The history of treaty making covers a wide historical swath dating from the earliest treaty in 1788 to latest one negotiated in 1917. Despite the end of formal treaties largely by the end of the 19th century, Native relations with the federal government continued on with the move to reservations and later formal land allotment under the Dawes Act of 1887." -- Publisher's description


Treaties with American Indians: an Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts, and Sovereignty


This reference reveals the long, often contentious history of Native American treaties, providing a rich overview of a topic of continuing importance. How are certain Indian tribes able to operate casinos in states that outlaw gambling? Hunt whales where international laws prohibit it? Profit from oil leases on federal land? Govern themselves as nations? All of these privileges are guaranteed by treaties, and, while the broken treaty remains a valid symbol for the treatment of Native Americans, many of the 370+ pacts with the government were and are still honored. Treaties with American Indians is a comprehensive introduction to the treaties that promised land, self-government, financial assistance, and cultural protections to many of the over 500 tribes of North America (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada).



Encyclopedia of the United States Indian Policy and Law 


Examines the thought-provoking and fascinating history of relations between the United States and Native Americans. Extensive introductory essays trace the development of federal Indian policies from the days of the Continental Congress to the present and evaluate the role that the "Indian question" has played in the United States' political development. In nearly 700 A-Z entries, more than 200 culturally diverse scholars from a wide range of disciplines shed light on the topics critical to a better understanding of U.S.-Indian relations.


Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian

Legal Dictionaries

Native Americans and the Law: A Dictionary

Description: Explains how laws affect Native Americans, outlines historical development of applicable state and federal laws, rulings, and administrative decisions, explores complex legal issues, discusses traditional Indian approaches to resolving disputes, and explains how the present-day Native American legal structure came about.

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