Tribal Law Gateway Home  |   Project Summary for Tribal Participants

Dear Tribal Leaders and Attorneys:

The National Indian Law Library (NILL), founded in 1972 as a project of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), has assembled a unique and unmatched collection of tribal law materials, thanks to the participation of tribal governments. NILL contains arguably the most important and largest tribal code and constitution collection in the United States. NILL is proud to be an educational resource for tribes and researchers/practitioners of American Indian law who need to learn more about the laws of sovereign tribal governments. Because tribal laws are rarely commercially published, the library's print and online collection provides efficient and convenient access to these laws.

In recognition of the library's work in providing access to tribal law, the staff was recognized in July, 2006 by the American Association of Law Libraries, which awarded NILL the "Public Access to Government Information Award."

Researchers most often use the library's collection to find sample tribal law provisions. For that reason, the library staff spends a great deal of effort looking for new tribal laws to add to its collection. The staff also input detailed table of contents data for each code in the online catalog, which enables people to search for provisions on very specific topics.

The library has been collecting tribal codes and constitutions since the late 1980s and has been digitizing tribal laws since the late 1990s. Digitization is only done with tribal permission. The first digital project was in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Law Library. That project was titled "Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project." For several more years, the library worked on digitization with the National Tribal Justice Resource Center. Just recently, NILL has partnered with Westlaw to provide access to annotated tribal law in its legal databases.

We believe that access to tribal law promotes an understanding of tribes as sovereign political entities, communicates the current state of the law and assists with the ongoing development of tribal law. We actively seek copies of constitutions, codes, and compacts / intergovernmental agreements for the print collection and the library web site. We welcome any document format and can receive copies via mail (on disk or in print) or Email. If your tribal government is interested in adding to the library's collection (either print, online, or both) or on Westlaw, please contact me. We would be honored to add your government's documents.

David Selden, Law Librarian and Director
National Indian Law Library at the Native American Rights Fund
1522 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 447-8760

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