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Researching Federal Indian Law and Tribal Law

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 88 minutes
Recorded Date: August 14, 2019
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  • Issues Regarding Access to Tribal Law
  • Form of Indian Treaties
  • Supreme Court Cases
  • Federal Appeals Courts
  • Principles of Treaty Interpretation
  • Treaty Litigation: The Indian Claims Commission
  • Indian Claims Commission Procedure
Runtime: 1 hour and 28 minutes
Recorded: August 14, 2019


With 573 federally recognized tribes, each with its own laws and judicial system, conducting research into tribal law, which is the law of individual tribal nations, can be daunting. Indian law practitioners must navigate the complexities of federal, tribal, and state case law, statutes, and regulations, and be comfortable with accessing resources such as treaties and tribal codes. This program will demystify research into federal Indian law (the law defining the relationship between tribes and the government) and tribal law (the internal law of each sovereign tribe).

A key challenge to modern practitioners is locating tribal law and court decisions, which frequently are unavailable online. Today’s attorneys expect to easily locate these resources via search engines and legal databases.But many tribes do not make, or have resources available to make, their ordinances and court opinions available online. Even when tribal law is available online, finding those sources can be difficult. Other times, older versions may be available, but not recent amendments or decisions, leading lawyers to cite bad law.

Learn how to navigate, access,and utilize key resources in tribal law, including tribal constitutions, codes, and case law. You'll also get advice from the experts on selecting, assembling, and evaluating key instruments of tribal law, contextualizing those resources in the cultural, history, and legal traditions of individual tribes, and employing tribal codes and cases in an informed and culturally competent manner. Join our expert panel of legal librarians and scholars as they guide you in identifying and addressing these situations.

This program was recorded on August 14th, 2019.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Faye Hadley

The University of Tulsa

Professor Faye Hadley was the Native American Resources Law Librarian for over 12 years at the Mabee Legal Information Center at The University of Tulsa College of Law. She now serves as an Adjunct Professor, teaching the Indian Law Research portion of the Research and Writing class in the MJIL program.

Ms. Hadley grew up in Indiana and attended Indiana University and earned a BA in English. She then moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Monteverde, Costa Rica. While in Albuquerque, she earned an MA in English Language and Rhetoric from the University of New Mexico. She returned to Indiana University several years later to complete a JD and MLS in 1997. Since finishing law school and library school, she has worked for a large law firm (Stoel Rives LLP) in Portland, Oregon, and at the University of New Mexico for two years before coming to Tulsa in May, 2001. Her interest in Native American law goes back many years.

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Cynthia R. Harris

Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs' Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Lo
Environmental Law Institute

Cynthia Harris joined ELI’s Research & Policy team as a staff attorney in November 2016. Cynthia’s background prior to ELI includes several years working in San Diego local government, where she advised on water, wastewater, and infrastructure policy—spearheading the City Council’s successful development of California’s toughest requirement mandating water submetering as a proven water conservation feature in multi-family developments—and served as community liaison to some of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods.

Cynthia holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she clerked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel, engaged in clinical studies with the Natural Resources Defense Council, and served on the NYU Law Review. She received her B.A. in Communication from the University of California, San Diego, graduating cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Cynthia is a confirmed chocoholic and fantasy and science fiction fanatic, and enjoys reading, athletics, traveling, volunteering, and experimenting in the kitchen

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Stacey Gordon Sterling

University of Montana

Professor Gordon Sterling is the Director of the Jameson Law Library. She teaches several courses: Legal Research, Advanced Legal Research, Environmental Law Research, Indian Law Research and Animal Law. Professor Gordon Sterling is a frequent CLE presenter on legal research and animal law topics. She writes in the area of animal law and is the advisor of the law school’s chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. She is also the Director of the First-Year Law Firm Program.

Professor Gordon Sterling is a graduate of Eastern Washington University, the University of Washington School of Library and Information Science, and The University of Montana School of Law, where she was a member of the Jessup International Moot Court team and served as business editor of the Public Lands and Resources Law Review. Before coming the University of Montana, she was the Library Director at Salish Kootenai College.

In addition to her work in the law school, Professor Gordon served as the Secretary of the Board of the Humane Society of Western Montana, and Chair of the HSWM Legislative and Advocacy Committee. She is also the Chair of the American Association of Law Libraries Animal Law Caucus Education Committee, and a member of the American Association of Law Schools Animal Law Section Executive Committee. Her pro bono and volunteer work focuses on consulting on animal law issues. She is also a HOPE foster parent for the Humane Society of Western Montana and always has a house full of animals in need of permanent homes. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Humane Society of Western Montana Ken Shughart Humanitarian Award.

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Anne Lucke

Law Librarian
National Indian Law Library

Anne Lucke is the Law Librarian at the National Indian Law Library.

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