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Home > Law & Legal Topics > Native American Law

» Native American Law:
Native American law is the branch of law promulgated by and for Indian tribes and the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Americas. Native American law addresses issues such as Tribal sovereignty; preservation of Tribal identity; discrimination in employment, housing, or public benefits; preservation of Native lands; religious freedom; and Tribal court support.

There are several hundred federally recognized tribal governments in the U.S. These tribal governments have the power to enter into treaties and to enact and enforce laws much like other governments. Indeed, many Tribes have entered into treaties with the U.S. and enacted their own constitutions, statutes, and issue their own court and administrative rulings.

There are also many federal statutes that have an impact on Native Americans. These laws include statutes in the U.S. Code that impact Native Americans. It also includes Acts that are found outside of the U.S. Code, such as the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act.

There are a number of federal agencies that assist with Native American issues. Many of these agencies are part of the Department of the Interior. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is the most notable federal agency that is involved in Native American legal issues.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is responsible for the administration and management of land held in trust by the U.S. for Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is tasked with developing forestlands, leasing assets on these lands, directing agricultural programs, protecting water and land rights, developing and maintaining infrastructure and economic development.

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