Outline of United States federal Indian law and policy

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to United States federal Indian law and policy:

Federal Indian policy establishes the relationship between the United States Government and the Indian Tribes within its borders. The Constitution gives the federal government primary responsibility for dealing with tribes. Law and U.S. public policy related to Native Americans have evolved continuously since the founding of the United States. David R. Wrone argues that the failure of the treaty system was because of the inability of an individualistic, democratic society to recognize group rights or the value of an organic, corporatist culture represented by the tribes.[1]

U.S. Supreme Court cases




Civil rights

Congressional authority


Hunting and fishing rights




Over non-Indians



Property rights


Mineral rights


Statutory and treaty interpretation




Tribal sovereignty

Other federal court cases


President Andrew Jackson called for an Indian Removal Act in his 1829 speech on the issue.

Executive Orders


Indiana Indian treaties

The federal government was in charge of relations with the Indians, and the procedure was to use the treaty making power of the president and the Senate to make formal arrangements. Over 200 treaties were agreed upon by 1840. Gatlin argues that treaties established a procedure that benefited both parties. The federal government was primarily interested in guaranteeing that Indian lands did not fall into private hands, and that it handled all negotiations with the tribes. These negotiations, says Gatlin, strengthened the tribes sense of unity and leadership. The land sales gave the Indians a steady flow of income, and guarantees of federal financial, medical, and educational aid.[2]

Many of the treaties remain in effect and are of special importance regarding federal recognition of tribal status, hunting and fishing rights, rights to protection of sacred properties, rights to water and minerals, and land claims.[3][4] The federal courts have a long, continuous history of litigation on these issues. The Supreme Court endorsed the procedure, with over 300 decisions making reference to Indian treaties after 1799.[5]

Major treaties

Notable people

The following individuals have played an important role in the evolution of Federal Indian Law and Policy through activism, literature and other methods.


The following organizations have played an important role in the evolution of Federal Indian Law and Policy through activism, lobbying, government oversight and education.



Rocky Mountain Region Homge Blackfeet Agency Crow Agency Fort Belknap Agency Fort Peck Agency Northern Cheyenne Agency Rocky Boy's Agency Wind River Agency


Native American advocacy groups and rights organizations

Events and issues


See also


  1. David R. Wrone, "Indian Treaties and the Democratic Idea," Wisconsin Magazine of History (1986) 70#2 pp 83-106
  2. Jay Gatlin, Private Diplomacy to Private Property: States, Tribes and Nations in the Early National Period," Diplomatic History (1998) 22:1 pp 85-99
  3. Alexandra Harmon, ed., The Power of Promises: Rethinking Indian Treaties in the Pacific Northwest (2008)
  4. Charles E. Cleland, Faith in Paper: The Ethnohistory and Litigation of Upper Great Lakes Indian Treaties (2011) excerpt and text search
  5. Charles D. Bernholz, "American Indian treaties and the Supreme Court: A guide to treaty citations from opinions of the United States Supreme Court," Journal of Government Information (2004) 30#2/3 pp 318-431
  6. "Faculty Profile-James Anaya". Retrieved 2011-05-17.
  7. Ware, Susan (2005-02-09) [2004]. "C". In Stacy Braukman. Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, Completing the Twentieth Century (Google Book Search). Notable American Women. 5. New York, NY: Harvard University Press. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-0-674-01488-6. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  8. Fluharty, Sterling. Harris, LaDonna Vita Tabbytite (1931-)." Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (retrieved 16 Sept 2010)
  9. "About AIO". Retrieved 2011-05-19.
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