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Native American Law & Legal Sources

An introduction to legal materials available at the UW Law Library on Native Americans and other native peoples of the US, such as Native Alaskans and Hawaiians. Includes treaties, statutes, executive orders, court decisions, and administrative actions.

General Information

Administrative agency programs, rules, regulations, and decisions have a great influence on all citizens, but these agencies have even a larger impact on Indians and other native peoples.  The federal government's administrative role stems from its responsibilities to provide services to Indians in fulfillment of treaty obligations, or in furtherance of the federal trust responsibility toward Indians. The "trust responsbility" can be general in nature, or limited specifically to property that the government holds in trust for indviduals or tribes.

Code of Federal Regulations and Federal Register

Presidential Proclamations & Executive Orders

Presidential proclamations and executive orders have been used extensively to govern Native American affairs.

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)

The current BIA was founded in 1824, as the Office of Indian Affairs and was part of the War department.  In 1849, it was transferred to the Department of Interior.  Twelve area offices assist the central office in Washington with providing services and allocating funds through local and tribal units of the BIA.  Much of Title 25 of the Code of Federal Regulations is devoted to the BIA because it administers federal Indian programs related to tribal government and judicial systems; financial activities; resource management, including land and water, energy and minerals and fish and wildlife; education; health; probate; housing and other social services; the Indian Self-determination and Education Assistance Act; and economic enterprises.

Department of Interior Decisions