Category Archives: Indian Law

Native American Heritage Month: Law Library Resources for Indigenous Scholarship

Arizona, the home of twenty-two federally recognized tribes, is rich in the culture of indigenous peoples, and Arizona State University’s law school has built a strong record of promoting study of Indian law and policy since its inception.

The Ross Blakley Law Library joins the federal government in observing November as Native American Heritage Month, honoring the traditions of North American indigenous peoples. Federal institutions are joining to provide webinars and webcasts highlighting Native art and heritage, as well as contemporary issues, such as voting rights, facing indigenous communities.

The library provides abundant resources on tribal law as well as federal and Arizona law regarding indigenous people. The Indian Law section on the third floor near the reference desk includes rare materials such as full tribal codes, commentaries, and reference materials.

Online, the library provides an Indian Law Research Guide, which includes sections on tribal law, local and federal Indian law, as well as international indigenous law and cultural resources.

We have gathered materials providing news on Native American legal developments as well as background materials to help introduce new scholars and practitioners to the communities’ legal regimes and cultures. We have gathered resources to help interested parties without database subscriptions gain access to tribal legal materials for free.

We take a particularly comprehensive look at the twenty-two tribes with significant presence in Arizona. For example, we point researchers toward the website, codes, constitution, and judicial opinions of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, including online and print resources. Most of the resources are freely accessible to the general public. The guide provides particularly substantial information on legal issues of particular importance to indigenous communities, including water rights, economic development, and casino gaming.

Sections on federal Indian law, treaties, and international indigenous law include secondary sources to help get researchers up to speed on the complexities of their topic, as well as pointing to resources that provide the primary authority they will rely on for their legal citations. The library provides the most renowned treatises on the subject, including a print copy of and online links to Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law. Commentators such as ASU Law’s own Professor Robert J. Miller provide important perspective on contemporary issues facing tribes. Our Cultural Resources guide further fills in the details of the cultures and complex legal challenges in indigenous communities.

The law library’s comprehensive treatment of the subject reflects the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s longstanding dedication to indigenous law, which has grown dramatically since the inaugural class of 1967 welcome Native students, and the initial curriculum included a course titled Legal Problems of Indians. Since 1988, ASU Law has been home to the Indian Legal Program, a nationally recognized educational force that includes leading scholars, such as ABA Spirit of Excellence Award winner Patty Ferguson Bohnee. The ILP offers a certificate for students wishing to concentrate their studies on Indian law.

If you are considering a research project or need help navigating the vast array or resources on indigenous and tribal law, feel free to Meet with a Librarian. We hope you will take the time to explore the rich traditions and legal landscapes of Arizona’s diverse indigenous communities this Native American Heritage Month.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

ASU Library Guide: COVID-19 Resources for Indigenous Peoples

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended normal life in Indigenous communities as it has throughout the world. And the unprecedented impact to public health, economic activity, and daily life is unique to everyone.

To offer news, advice, and resources to help Indigenous people and tribes during the coronavirus response, Arizona State University’s Labriola National American Indian Data Center and the ASU Library have produced a new guide: COVID-19 Resources for Indigenous Peoples.

The guide includes a bevy of resources particularly relevant to Arizona tribes. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona provides tips sheets, news, and epidemiology data. The Navajo Epidemiology Center Coronavirus Response page includes data on the tribe and the disease’s spread in its region of Northern Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. The Tribal Epidemiology Centers’ COVID-19 site tracks similar data from tribes in other regions. The Arizona Department of Health Services and Maricopa County provide updates on coronavirus infection statistics, in the Important Links section at the bottom of the Home page. ASU has tips for students and the Phoenix area community on recognizing the disease, preventing infection, and fighting its spread, as well as information on the university’s response.

The new guide also delves into general Indigenous-centric resources, including information on tribal news, easy to follow tip sheets, and advocacy tools. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service explains on the federal response, including disaster relief and COVID-19 testing data. Organizations including ASU’s American Indian Policy Institute and the National Council of Urban Health track news and Indigenous perspectives on fighting the coronavirus outbreak. Also, women face particular challenges and dangers, and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center helps protect survivors of domestic violence with tips and by coordinating support for assistance programs.

The guide moves beyond raw data to help people with the mental, spiritual, and social impact of the pandemic. It highlights feel-good resources and cultural strength as well as tips on managing stress and the boredom of social distancing, such as connecting with Native artists and YouTubers and celebrating culture. It also includes resources to for students and researchers to keep up with education and stay current on Native news. With schools committed to slowing the illness’s spread, the guide sends a lifeline to parents to keep children entertained and informed in quarantine, including full episodes of educational cartoons, lessons on Native languages, and story readings.   

For informative visuals to promote healthy behavior, Johns Hopkins’ Center for American Indian Health distributes info sheets and images suitable for sharing on social media. Videos on the Labriola guide’s Home page, including one from the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp., informs viewers about the situation in Northern Arizona and the nature of the coronavirus. Maps and statistical graphics provide further insight into the pandemic’s spread.

Finally, the guide helps people contribute resources to stand in together in solidarity, helping to distribute supplies and manage the crisis. One of the new guide’s cocreators, the Labriola Center, provides scholarship, news, and historical resources to preserve and promote Indigenous research and activism. ASU libraries are open for remote services during the pandemic. The ASU Law Library offers online resources, including a guide to promote wellness and mental health during the coronavirus. The Indian Law library guide further assists study of Arizona tribes, federal law, treaties, and cultural resources. To learn more, make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian via Zoom or email

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Indigenous Law Portal Makes finding Tribal Law Easier

Tribal law can be difficult to find for a variety reasons: individual tribes may not have the resources to publish their laws, may choose not to make them available electronically, or even may restrict outside access to their laws.  The new Library of Congress Indigenous Law Portal helps researchers find difficult-to locate tribal law materials by bringing together digitized historic Library of Congress resources with current resources available on tribal websites.  The Portal can be both searched and browsed by geographic region, state, and tribe name.

In addition to this new Portal, when researching tribal law be sure to also consult the Ross-Blakley Law Library’s Indian Law Portal which contains resources such as a listing of Arizona Tribal Law Sources, a listing of Tribal Law for Tribes Outside Arizona, a Federal Indian Law Research Guide, and an International Indigenous Law Research Guide.

Diane Humetewa Confirmed to Federal Judgeship

Congratulations to ASU’s Diane Humetewa on her historic appointment to the U. S. District Court for  Arizona.  The  U. S.  Senate voted unanimously to confirm her yesterday, Wednesday, May 14th!