Working Paper on the Availability of Tribal Law
Last year I became responsible for our collection of Native American materials at the UW Law Library. In reviewing the collection and availability of sources, I learned that tribal legal materials are very difficult to track down, especially for non-Indians.
There are 566 federally recognized tribes in the United States today. For a majority, no law has been published. Where is it available, tribal law is scattered across various websites, databases and print publications.
Curious about why this was true, I did some research on the matter. I've recently posted a working paper on SSRN that describes my findings. The paper, entitled 'Whatever Tribal Precedent There May Be': The (Un)Availability of Tribal Law, explores the costs and benefits of publishing tribal law and presents various publication options.
Part I analyzes why tribal law may not be more widely available; part II illustrates how making tribal law more accessible can benefit tribes and others; and part III describes how tribes can make their law available if they so choose.
An appendix lists existing publicly available tribal law collections, both historical and current.