Outline of United States federal Indian law and policy

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to United States federal Indian law and policy:

Federal Indian policy – establishes the relationship between the United States Government and the Indian Tribes within its borders. The Constitution gives the federal government primary responsibility for dealing with tribes. Law and U.S. public policy related to Native Americans have evolved continuously since the founding of the United States. David R. Wrone argues that the failure of the treaty system was because of the inability of an individualistic, democratic society to recognize group rights or the value of an organic, corporatist culture represented by the tribes.[1]

U.S. Supreme Court cases[edit]

Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg

List of United States Supreme Court cases involving Indian tribes




Civil rights[edit]

Congressional authority[edit]


Hunting and fishing rights[edit]




Over non-Indians[edit]



Property rights[edit]


Mineral rights[edit]


Statutory and treaty interpretation[edit]




Tribal sovereignty[edit]

Other federal court cases[edit]


President Andrew Jackson called for an Indian Removal Act in his 1829 speech on the issue.

Executive Orders[edit]


Indiana Indian treaties

The federal government was in charge of relations with the Indians, and the procedure was to use the treaty making power of the president and the Senate to make formal arrangements. Over 200 treaties were agreed upon by 1840. Gatlin argues that treaties established a procedure that benefited both parties. The federal government was primarily interested in guaranteeing that Indian lands did not fall into private hands, and that it handled all negotiations with the tribes. These negotiations, says Gatlin, strengthened the tribes sense of unity and leadership. The land sales gave the Indians a steady flow of income, and guarantees of federal financial, medical, and educational aid.[2]

Many of the treaties remain in effect and are of special importance regarding federal recognition of tribal status, hunting and fishing rights, rights to protection of sacred properties, rights to water and minerals, and land claims.[3][4] The federal courts have a long, continuous history of litigation on these issues. The Supreme Court endorsed the procedure, with over 300 decisions making reference to Indian treaties after 1799.[5]

Major treaties[edit]

Notable people[edit]

The following individuals have played an important role in the evolution of Federal Indian Law and Policy through activism, literature and other methods.


Seal of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.svg

The following organizations have played an important role in the evolution of Federal Indian Law and Policy through activism, lobbying, government oversight and education.



Rocky Mountain Region Homge Blackfeet Agency Crow Agency Fort Belknap Agency Fort Peck Agency Northern Cheyenne Agency Rocky Boy's Agency Wind River Agency


Native American advocacy groups and rights organizations[edit]

Events and issues[edit]


  • Canby, William C. Jr. (2009). American Indian Law in a Nutshell. Eagan, MN: West Publishing. ISBN 978-0-314-19519-7.
  • Coggins, George; et al. (2007). Federal Public Land and Resource Law. New York: Foundation Press. ISBN 978-1-59941-163-7.
  • Cohen, Felix S. (2005). Newton, Neil Jessup (ed.). Cohen's Handbook Federal Indian Law 2005 Edition. Newark, NJ: LexisNexis. ISBN 978-0-327-16444-9.
  • Deloria, Vine Jr.; Clifford M. Lytle (1983). American Indians, American Justice. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-73834-8.
  • Duthu, Bruce (2009). American Indians and the Law. New York pp. 91- 115: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-311478-9.
  • Finkelman, Paul; Garrison, Tim Alan (2008). Encyclopedia of United States Indian Policy and Law. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 1-933116-98-6.
  • Getches, David H.; Wilkinson, Charles F.; Williams, Robert A. (2004). Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law (American Casebook Series). Eagan, MN: West Publishing. ISBN 0-314-14422-6.
  • Getches, David; et al. (2005). Federal Indian Law. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing. ISBN 0-314-14422-6.
  • Goldberg, Carole; et al. (2011). Indian Law Stories. New York: Foundation Press. ISBN 978-1-59941-729-5.
  • Hays, Joel Stanford. "Twisting the Law: Legal Inconsistencies in Andrew Jackson's Treatment of Native-American Sovereignty and State Sovereignty." Journal of Southern Legal History, 21 (no. 1, 2013), 157–92.
  • Hester, Thurman Lee (2001). Political Principles and Indian Sovereignty. Oxford, UK: Routledge. ISBN 0-8153-4023-0.
  • McCool, Daniel (1987). Command of the Waters: Iron Triangles, Federal Water Development, and Indian Water. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0-520-05846-1.
  • Morris, Lisa. (2015). Dying in Indian Country. Sisters, OR: Deep River Books. ISBN 978-1-940-26971-9.
  • Pevar, Stephan E. (2004). The Rights of Indians and Tribes: The Authoritative ACLU Guide to Indian and Tribal Rights. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-6718-4.
  • Pommershiem, Frank (1997). Braid of Feathers: American Indian Law and Contemporary Tribal Life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20894-3.
  • Prucha, Francis Paul, ed. Documents of United States Indian Policy (3rd ed. 2000)
  • Prucha, Francis Paul. American Indian Treaties: The History of a Political Anomaly (1997) excerpt and text search
  • Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians (abridged edition, 1986)
  • Ruppel, Kristin T. (2007). Unearthing Indian Land: Living with the Legacies of Allotment. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0-8165-2711-3.
  • Scofield, Ruth Packwood. (1992). Behind the Buckskin Curtain. New York: Carlton Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8062-4091-1
  • Wilkinson, Charles (1988). American Indians, Time, and the Law: Native Societies in a Modern Constitutional Democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-04136-1.
  • Wilkinson, Charles (2005). Blood Struggle-The Rise of Modern Indian Nations. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. ISBN 0-393-05149-8.
    • Blood Struggle highlights major events and consequences in American Indian history since the Termination Act of 1953.
  • Wilkinson, Charles (1991). Indian Tribes As Sovereign Governments: A Sourcebook on Federal-Tribal History, Law, and Policy. Stockton, CA: American Indian Lawyer. ISBN 0-939890-07-0.
  • Wilkins, David (1997). American Indian Sovereignty and the U.S. Supreme Court : The Masking of Justice. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-79109-7.
  • Wilkins, David (2011). American Indian Politics and the American Political System. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-8476-9306-1.
  • Robert J. McCarthy, The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Trust Obligation to American Indians, 19 BYU J. PUB. L. 1 (December, 2004).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David R. Wrone, "Indian Treaties and the Democratic Idea," Wisconsin Magazine of History (1986) 70#2 pp 83-106
  2. ^ Jay Gatlin, Private Diplomacy to Private Property: States, Tribes and Nations in the Early National Period," Diplomatic History (1998) 22:1 pp 85-99
  3. ^ Alexandra Harmon, ed., The Power of Promises: Rethinking Indian Treaties in the Pacific Northwest (2008)
  4. ^ Charles E. Cleland, Faith in Paper: The Ethnohistory and Litigation of Upper Great Lakes Indian Treaties (2011) excerpt and text search
  5. ^ Charles D. Bernholz, "American Indian treaties and the Supreme Court: A guide to treaty citations from opinions of the United States Supreme Court," Journal of Government Information (2004) 30#2/3 pp 318-431
  6. ^ "Faculty Profile-James Anaya". Archived from the original on 2015-03-20. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
  7. ^ Ware, Susan (2005-02-09) [2004]. "C". In Stacy Braukman (ed.). Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, Completing the Twentieth Century (Google Book Search). Notable American Women. 5. New York, NY: Harvard University Press. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-0-674-01488-6. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  8. ^ Fluharty, Sterling. Harris, LaDonna Vita Tabbytite (1931-)." Archived 2010-06-28 at the Wayback Machine Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (retrieved 16 Sept 2010)
  9. ^ "About AIO". Retrieved 2011-05-19.

External links[edit]