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Indian Law

Executive Branch

Executive Orders Relating to Indian Reservations from 1855 to 1912
This compilation of executive orders is freely available on HathiTrust. It contains the text of executive orders issued between 1855 and 1912.

Kappler’s Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties
This compilation has federal Indian laws from 1871-1970, including executive orders. It is available online from the Oklahoma State University Library, in print at the Law Library, and on HeinOnline (available on campus and remotely with ASURITE).

The American Presidency Project
This free resource includes presidential documents issued by all presidents, beginning with George Washington.

GovInfo
This free resource has the Compilation of Presidential Documents from 1992 to the present and Public Papers of the Presidents from Hoover to Obama.  Presidential documents can be searched using the Advanced Search option.

ProQuest Congressional & Executive Publications
This database, available on campus and remotely with ASURITE, has presidential documents from 1789 to present.

History of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
In ‚Äč1824 the Office of Indian Affairs was established in the United States Department of War. This office was charged with overseeing and carrying out the federal government's trade and treaty relations with Indian tribes. In 1849 the Office of Indian Affairs was transferred to the newly established Department of the Interior. The name of the agency was formally changed to the “Bureau of Indian Affairs” in 1947.

Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800
This online collection has 55,000 documents from the U.S. War Department for the years 1784-1800. During this time, the War Department was responsible for Indian affairs.

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
The BIA’s website offers information on its organizational structure and programs, a document library, news outlet, and current tribal leader directory. 

Interior Board of Indian Appeals
The Interior Board of Indian Appeals hears appeals of decisions by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Its decisions are available on its website (1970-present) and on HeinOnline (1972-present, available on campus and remotely with ASURITE), Westlaw (1970-present, Westlaw password required), and Lexis (1970-present, Lexis password required). Some Interior Department decisions in Indian matters prior to 1970 can be found in here.

Solicitor of the Department of Interior
The Solicitor of the Department of the Interior provides advice, counsel, and legal representation to the offices overseen by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Solicitor opinions are available on the agency’s website 1993-present and 1881-1994, the Oklahoma State University Library’s digital collection (1917-1974), HeinOnline (1917-1974, available on campus or remotely with ASURITE), and Lexis (1993-present, Lexis password required).

Environmental Protection in Indian Country, Environmental Protection Agency

Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development, Bureau of Indian Affairs

Office of Native American Affairs, U.S. Small Business Administration

Office of Native American Programs, U.S. Housing and Urban Development

Legislative Branch

The resources listed below provide information on finding federal legislation concerning American Indians and the related legislative history.

Kappler’s Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties
This compilation has federal Indian laws from 1871-1970. It is available online from the Oklahoma State University Library, in print at the Law Library, and on HeinOnline (available on campus and remotely with ASURITE).

Federal Legislative Histories - HeinOnline
HeinOnline's Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: History, Culture & Law database contains compilations of legislative history documents for major pieces of federal legislation regarding Indian affairs (available on campus and remotely with ASURITE).

Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States
This House of Representatives subcommittee has jurisdiction over House measures relating to the welfare of Native Americans. It oversees legislation on the management of Indian lands in general and special measures relating to claims paid out of Indian funds, matters pertaining to relations between the United States and tribes, and matters related to the federal trust responsibility to Native Americans.

U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs focuses on the unique issues that American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native peoples face. These issues include Indian education, economic development, land management, trust responsibilities, health care, and claims against the United States.

ProQuest Congressional
This database, available on campus and remotely with ASURITE, has Congressional documents from 1789 to present.

Judicial Branch

The resources below provide information on finding federal court cases that have decided questions of Indian law.

Federal Indian Law Court Decisions
The Tribal Law and Policy Institute, a Native American operated organization focused on enhancing justice in Indian Country, has provided on its web site links to summaries of Indian law cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court from 1991 to the present.  The Institute’s website also has information concerning Indian law cases currently pending before the Supreme Court. 

Landmark Indian Law Cases
This set has the full text of 53 important U.S. Supreme Court cases and is indexed by subject matter. It is available in print in the Law Library and on HeinOnline.

Federal Native American Law - Westlaw
This Westlaw database contains cases that relate to Native Americans from the U.S. Supreme Court, federal courts of appeals, federal district courts, bankruptcy courts, Court of Federal Claims, U.S. Tax Court, military courts, and other related federal and territorial courts. A Westlaw password is required to access this database.

Digest of American Indian Law: Cases and Chronology
This Indian law case digest is arranged by topic, with cases presented in a case brief format. It includes a chronology of federal Indian policy from 1492-1989. It is available in print in the Law Library and on HeinOnline (available on campus and remotely with ASURITE).

Indian Territory Reports
This set has cases determined in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Indian Territory from 1900-1909. It is available in print in the Law Library and on HeinOnline (available on campus and remotely with ASURITE).

Cobell Litigation
Documents relating to the Cobell Litigation, a class-action lawsuit against the United States alleging mismanagement of Indian trust funds.

For more information on researching federal court opinions, please see our LibGuides on Federal Courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Indian Claims Commission was a body established by Congress in 1946 to hear claims of American Indians against the United States, including claims for taken tribal land. The Commission decided claims from 1948 until 1978.

Indian Claims Commission Decisions
The Indian Claims Commission operated from 1948-1978 and heard claims from Native American tribes and other groups against the United States. Decisions of the Commission are available online from the Oklahoma State University Library digital collection and on HeinOnline. For claims decided prior to the creation of the Commission in 1946 and subsequent to its dissolution in 1978, see:

ProQuest Indian Claims Insight
This ProQuest database includes claims presented to Congress and/or brought before the Court of Claims before 1948, Indian Claims Commission documents for the years 1948-1978 including briefs, docket books, decisions, expert testimony, oral transcripts, and for the years post-1978 claims brought before the US Court of Claims (through 1982) and US Court of Federal Claims (through 2006), documents related to post-2006 settlement of claims, legislative histories and congressional publications directly related to Indian claims including Congressional publications indexed by docket numbers, important Supreme Court decisions, and maps. It is available on campus and remotely with an ASURITE password.

Secondary Sources

American Indian Law in a Nutshell (William C. Canby, 2020)
This Nutshell is an overview of federal Indian law and policy, tribal governments, treaties, gaming, claims to water and land, etc. It is available in print in the Law Library and on West Academic (available on campus or with West Academic account).

Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law (Felix S. Cohen, 2012)
This treatise covers federal Indian law, focusing on the relationship among tribes, the states, and the federal government within the context of civil and criminal jurisdiction, as well as areas of resource management and government structure. The Law Library has it in print. It is available electronically on Lexis (Lexis password required). The 1940 edition is also freely available on the University of Oklahoma’s website as well as on HeinOnline (available on campus and remotely with ASURITE).

Documents of United States Indian Policy (Francis Paul Prucha, 2000)
This is a collection of more than 200 documents, including letters, cases, laws, and regulations that mark significant policy between Indian nations and the federal government. It is available in print in the Law Library.

Encyclopedia of American Indian Civil Rights (James Stuart Olson and Mark Baxter, 1997)
This encyclopedia includes brief descriptions of the major concepts, court decisions, Congressional acts, citizen protests, and individuals pertaining to the history of Native American civil rights. It is available in print in the Law Library.

Fletcher’s Principles of Federal Indian Law (Matthew L.M. Fletcher, 2017)
This hornbook provides comprehensive coverage of federal Indian law. It is also available digitally on West Academic (available on campus or with West Academic account).

Restatement of the Law Third, The Law of American Indians (American Law Institute, 2013-2020)
This Restatement is still in draft stage. It covers relations between tribes and the federal and state governments, tribal jurisdiction, and Indian country business law. It is available on HeinOnline (available on campus and remotely with ASURITE).