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What is Native Peoples Law?

Definition of Native Peoples Law

Native Peoples Law governs the Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Natives that live in the United States. These Native Americans are actually governed by multiple legal structures. First, each tribe may create and enforce its own tribal law. The federal government issued several statutes and treaties that affect the provision of services to people on Native American reservations. Some states may also impose some restrictions on Native Americans.

Practice Area Notes

Lawyers who are experts in Native Peoples Law handle a wide variety of issues. Many of these lawyers work for the tribes or for the state in which the reservation is located. They help Native Americans find work or set up businesses with the people surrounding the reservation, or help the state enforce laws that apply to Native Americans.

Some lawyers work within the tribes and help tribe members handle resolve their internal disputes or access government services to which they are entitled. Unfortunately, American reservations are often in remote areas and suffer from rampant poverty, and many Native Americans have trouble accessing essential legal services.

Related Practice Areas

  • International Law: Tribes are considered "sovereign governments" that live within the United States. As such, the federal laws that govern Native Americans are largely contained in treaties.
  • Municipal Law: Many tribes operate very similarly to cities on U.S. soil and must create ordinances for taxes, business licenses, police power, and other essentials.
  • Business Law: Many Native Americans wish to create businesses and market to people outside the reservation, and must set up their business according to applicable state and federal laws.
  • Land Use Law: The federal government sets aside land specifically for use by Native Americans.
  • Estate Planning: Native Americans are subject to different estate laws than other American citizens.
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