National Native American and American Indian Heritage Month (NAHM) is recognized every November as a month to acknowledge and celebrate Native American history, heritage, and culture. The journey to a month of recognition for Native Americans began over a century ago. The following is a brief overview of online resources focused on the achievements and contributions of Native Americans and American Indians in culture, history, and the law.

Native Americans continue to contribute to the development of American law, and many Native American organizations place emphasis on the importance of recognizing this contribution. Primary sources of American Indian and Tribal law and other adjacent materials offer important context to past and present social, political, and legal issues faced by Native American communities. The following list is a sampling of primary sources and other collections of resources that shed light on Native American legal history.

  • The official NAHM website compiles a list of primary source exhibits and collections of Native American and American Indian history and culture offered around the web.

  • The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in New Mexico maintains the Indigenous Digital Archive, which preserves the history of U.S. government-led Indian boarding schools in the late 19th and 20th centuries. One feature of this digital archive is the Treaties Explorer.

  • The Native Communities Program of the National Archives holds “hundreds of thousands of records related to interactions between Native American and Alaska Native communities and the Federal Government,” and also provides a portal for educators to access primary sources and teaching activities related to Native American communities on DocsTeach.

  • The Library of Congress has several collections and resources, both physical and virtual, to help educate about Native American legal history. This list of new Law Library of Congress acquisitions for Indigenous People’s Day features the latest legal resources related to Native American and American Indian law.

  • The Law Library of Congress maintains the Indigenous Law web archive, a collection of primary law sources of Indigenous sovereign nations.

  • Additionally, to celebrate National Native American Heritage Month in 2021, the Library of Congress has also developed an educator guide to accompany “Living Nations, Living Words,” the signature project of the 23rd and current Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo.

  • Educators can find further resources for celebrating NAHM on and on the Bureau of Indian Affairs website.

Native Americans and their communities face particular barriers in accessing necessary legal services. These organizations aim to address this need by offering legal aid to Native Americans at low or no cost for a wide range of legal issues that specifically affect Native Americans, including citizenship, education, religious freedom, land and resource sovereignty, and prisoner’s rights.

There are many Native-led organizations that provide education, advocacy, and support year-round. The National Institutes of Health Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion compiled a list of Native American organizations serving their communities, including by providing legal and social services. One of these organizations, the National Congress of American Indians, provides directories of Native American tribes and tribal organizations.

We recommend this past Ex Libris Juris blog post on the importance of acknowledging Native land and further information about organizations working to dismantle the structural barriers that Native Americans continue to face.