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Native Land Law Fund

Arizona fieldFor far too many years, Indian people have found themselves at the mercy of other people’s political and legal agendas. Precedent setting U.S. Supreme Court cases and unfair federal policies, such as the General Allotment Act, have created a legacy of unjust laws and legislation that are largely responsible for the ongoing social, economic and political hardship experienced by many Native Americans in this country.

Unfortunately, the legal issues facing Indian people are little known and often misunderstood by those outside of the Native American community. For example, even after Indian reservations in the U.S. were established, millions of acres of reservation lands were unlawfully taken, often without prior consent or just compensation paid to the Indian nations whose lands were taken. Lands that remained in Indian control were divided up among individual tribal members, but a deeply flawed federal inheritance system has left the ownership of these lands highly fractionated and it is now virtually impossible for Indian people to use or benefit from these lands in any significant way. And just recently, the federal court once again pointed out the government’s gross mishandling of the trust system, which has led to the loss of billions of dollars in income, mostly from improperly managed agricultural, forestry and mineral leases on Indian lands.

As part of its legal reform strategy, ILTF has partnered with the Indian Law Resource Center (ILRC) and consulted with leaders throughout Indian Country to develop a set of new legal principles relating to Native lands and natural resources that will advance a more fair and just legal framework for Indian people. These principles, published in 2012 by Thomson Reuters as the legal treatise Native Land Law, represent the first Indian-developed and tribally-supported statement of what the law should be.

The implementation of these new legal principles will be guided by priorities set by Indian nations and will involve the development of specific initiatives that address the need for reform on the judicial, legislative, and administrative levels. Each of the Native Land Law Project initiatives will also include a communications component to build broad public awareness about the issues and to advance a national debate.

By making a gift to the Native Land Law Fund, you can support Indian people in leading positive, empowering, enduring change.

Make a contribution to the Native Land Law Fund

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