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Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: History, Culture & Law

Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: History, Culture & Law brings together a wealth of content dedicated to indigenous law and life, sharing the tremendous influence that indigenous peoples and their culture have had on the development of our nation. Check out the informative video, then keep scrolling for a written guide.

Inside the Database

Upon entering the database, users are brought to the “All Titles” tab, where they are listed alphabetically. Browse options include searching by title, tribe, author, date, or subject.

screenshot of Indigenous Peoples of the America database homepage

Indigenous Peoples Treaties

Within this subcollection, users will find a comprehensive list of 418 treaties between the United States and indigenous peoples—416 of which include full-text coverage—primarily derived from the Kappler index published in the U.S. Statutes at Large. Charles Kappler, the clerk of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, began compiling these treaties as well as laws concerning only indigenous peoples in 1903.

Users can browse the subcollection by tribe name or by date. Click the name of a treaty to view more information. The treaties may contain a link to their U.S. Statutes at Large citations, Kappler citations, and other full-text sources, as well as the following information:

  • Treaty number
  • Tribe(s) involved
  • Subject(s)
  • Short title
  • Citation(s)
  • Date(s)
  • Description
  • Signatories
  • Agreement(s) affected
screenshot of Indigenous Peoples Treaties subcollection
screenshot of treaty information

Browse or use the Indigenous Peoples Treaty Search Tool to recall a specific document. Through the tool, users can search by keywords, treaty number, tribe, date, and various other search facets.

screenshot of Indigenous Peoples Treaty Search Tool

Indian Tribal Codes

Peruse tens of thousands of pages of indigenous tribal codes from the 1981 and 1988 editions of Indian Tribal Codes: A Microfiche Collection of Indian Tribal Law Codes, edited by Professor John Ralph Johnson, Susan Lupton, and Richard Davies. These collections offer insight into the historical development of indigenous tribal codes over time, with the 1988 edition including analyses of trends in coverage, enactments, and amendments. Browse by edition or by tribe.

screenshot of Indian Tribal Codes subcollection with browse options highlighted


More than 25 serial titles reside within this subcollection, including the entire span of the Indian Law Reporter, which ran from 1974 to 2013 and is considered an essential, comprehensive resource for anyone interested in Indigenous American law.

screenshot of Indian Law Reporter

Extensive Legislative Histories

Explore legislative histories of acts relating to indigenous peoples of the Americas. Search options include browsing by publication title, public law number, or popular name.

screenshot of Legislative Histories subcollection highlighting Browse By options

Constitutions, Acts, and By-Laws

This subcollection contains works related to the constitutions and laws of indigenous tribes. Notable materials include:

Each document is arranged in alphabetical order for simplified searching.

screenshot of Constitutions, Acts, & By-Laws subcollection

Other Related Works

Locate a compilation of notable works by pioneers in the history of indigenous law and other valuable titles of interest to researchers, including landmark indigenous cases, congressional hearings, government reports, the Model Tribal Probate Code, the entirety of Title 25 (Indians) of the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations, and much more. Notable titles include:

  • Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vols. 1–7 (Laws: Compiled to Dec. 1, 1902–1971) by Charles J. Kappler. This publication was undertaken by Charles Kappler at the request of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Indian Affairs. This definitive resource includes acts of Congress relating to treaties concluded between the United States and indigenous peoples of the Americas from 1902–1971 and follows the format of Statutes at Large with notes in the margins.
  • Landmark Indian Law Cases: National Indian Law Library; United States 1 v. Buffalo, N.Y.: W.S. Hein, 2002. Contains 53 groundbreaking decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in the field of federal indigenous law.  The subject index of cases provides a quick reference aid, and all cases are listed under one or more relevant subject headings.

In addition, we are proud to include Statutory Compilation of the Indian Law Survey. A Compendium of Federal Laws and Treaties Relating to Indians, Parts. 1–46 (1776–1938). This rare 46-volume set edited by Felix S. Cohen includes 389 treaties (including treaties with “Indians” and those with foreign nations referring to “Indians”), more than 2,600 public acts and resolutions, and more than 1,200 private acts, for a total of 4,264 statutory items. It has never been accessible online … until now.

screenshot of Statutory Compilation of the Indian Law Survey. A Compendium of Federal Laws and Treaties Relating to Indians

Additional Resources

Have questions about the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas database? We can help. Check out the articles dedicated to this collection in our Knowledge Base. Or visit our dedicated LibGuide.

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