Magazine article Policy & Practice

Legal Resources for Human Services Agencies Serving Native American Clients

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Legal Resources for Human Services Agencies Serving Native American Clients

Article excerpt

Human services attorneys and other staff who serve Native American and American Indian individuals and communities may encounter a need for access to targeted legal resources. A 2012 report by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that the "U.S. population on April 1, 2010, was 308.7 million. Out of the total U.S. population, 2.9 million people, or 0.9 percent, were American Indian and Alaska Native alone. In addition, 2.3 million people, or another 0.7 percent, reported they were American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races. Together, these two groups totaled 5.2 million people. Thus, 1.7 percent of all people in the United States identified as American Indian and Alaska Native, either alone or in combination with one or more other races." (1)

This article presents an abridged listing of helpful national and regional legal resources. It is not exhaustive and no endorsement is implied.

1. U.S.Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. (2) The website states: "The United States has a unique legal and political relationship with Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities as provided by the Constitution of the United States, treaties, court decisions, and Federal statutes. Within the government-to-government relationship, Indian Affairs provides services directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts to 567 federally recognized tribes with a service population of about 1.9 million." The wesbite also features an excellent document library. (3)

2. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Tribal Justice. (4) Its purpose is "to provide a principal point of contact within the Department of Justice to listen to the concerns of Indian Tribes and to communicate the Department's policies to the Tribes and the public; to promote internal uniformity of Department of Justice policies and litigation positions relating to Indian county; and to coordinate with other Federal agencies and with State and Local governments on their initiatives in Indian country." A list of frequently asked questions pertaining to legal issues can be found on the website as well. (5)

3. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration for Native Americans (ANA) was established in 1974. It "serves all Native Americans, including federally recognized tribes, American Indian and Alaska Native organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations and Native populations throughout the Pacific Basin (including American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). ANA promotes self-sufficiency for Native Americans by providing discretionary grant funding for community based projects, and training and technical assistance to eligible tribes and native organizations." The website has an extensive listing of programs and resources. (6)

4. The Library of Congress contains an Indigenous Law Portal. (7)

5. Other resources within U.S. federal agencies and independent regulatory agencies. (8)

6. NativeOneStop.gov, (9) a one-stop shop for American Indians and Alaska Natives to access resources available from the U.S. Government.

7. National Indian Law Library. (10) "The National Indian Law Library (NILL) of the Native American Rights Fund is a law library devoted to federal Indian and tribal law. NILL maintains a unique and valuable collection of Indian law resources and assists people with their Indian law-related research needs." The website also has a wealth of information on federal Indian law, tribal law, and much more. An excellent resource, A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), is available on the website. (11)

8. The Tribal Court Clearinghouse website (12) "provides links to all Federal Courts and case summaries of Indian law cases decided by the United States Supreme Court from 1991 through 2008 with links to the court syllabus, the full opinions for each case, and all dissents. …

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