One of ILTF’s primary objectives is to educate Indian landowners, tribal leaders, youth and others about Indian land tenure issues. To that end, we develop and provide access to a broad spectrum of educational materials and educational opportunities focused on Indian land, most of which are available here on our website. Check back on a regular basis for the latest content.
ILTF publications are outlined below.
Message Runner is an educational publication produced by ILTF to address specific topics related to Indian land tenure. Past issues have been widely distributed throughout Indian Country and have been used by colleges and universities, tribes and federal agencies for education and training purposes. ILTF offers the Message Runner free to individuals, nonprofit organizations and tribes. Charges may apply for larger quantities. Contact ILTF to order paper copies.
Click the volume number of each issue below to see a pdf version of the publication.
- “Now hiring! Exploring career opportunities in tribal land.”
- “Native Land Law: Can Native American People Find Justice in the U.S. Legal System?” (abridged version)
- “Cutting through the Red Tape: An Indian Landowner’s Guide to Reading and Processing Federal Forms.” A collection of federal forms used in the management of Indian lands and assets and explanations about how to read and process the forms.
- “From Removal to Recovery: Land Ownership in Indian Country.” A historical account of Indian land ownership, from pre-contact to the present.
- Rights of way in Indian Country.
- A primer on Indian estate planning and probate.
- An overview of the major Indian land tenure issues.
Native Land Law (CLEs)
ILTF worked in partnership with the Indian Law Resource Center (indianlaw.org) to develop a set of 17 General Principles of law that create a legal framework to guide the future development of federal law relating to Indian land and resources. The resulting publication, Native Land Law: General Principles of Law Relating to Native Lands and Natural Resources, published by Thomson Reuters, provides a comprehensive overview of the General Principles and an extensive legal analysis of relevant federal law. ILTF has also developed a CLE series offered through West LegalEdcenter, as a companion to the book.
Here’s what one leading legal scholar had to say about the publication: “Native Land Law provides a penetrating and useful understanding of the underlying principles of native land law in the United States through a proper reading of Justice Marshall’s opinions against a backdrop of then-prevailing international law and the reinforcement of those foundational principles in modern instruments such as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is against these basic principles that we are able to identify and address the present errors, anomalies and misunderstandings in native land law today.” – John EchoHawk, Executive Director, Native American Rights Fund
View abridged version of Native Land Law
Participants will gain a deeper understanding of current law, the historical and legal contexts that shape Native land law, and will be challenged to consider alternative approaches that are workable within a U.S. constitutional framework. Trainings are fully accredited and provided online through Thomson Reuters West LegalEdcenter. To register for an upcoming training, or to view previously aired programs On Demand, click on the active link for each CLE below.
Cobell CLE Program
Cobell v. Jewell resulted in the largest class-action settlement against the federal government in U.S. history. Cobell stemmed from more than a century of management of American Indian trust assets. Originally filed in 1996, Cobell was settled for $3.4 billion in 2010. This half-day CLE event was held live in Washington, D.C. (Originally Aired on July 16, 2014, 2.25 credits)
- Luncheon Presentation – Freeman, Stainbrook
David Freeman and Cris Stainbrook will provide introductory remarks, including an overview of the Cobell v. Jewell (ultimately, Cobell v. Salazar) class action lawsuit, as well as an overview of the legal framework, administrative structure and regulatory instruments for effective land stewardship in Indian Country.
- Litigation and Legislative Strategic Considerations in the Cobell v. Jewell – Gingold and Pearl
Plaintiffs’ attorneys Dennis Gingold and Alexander Pearl will provide their perspectives on litigating the class action suit, from cause of action to strategic considerations throughout the more than decade-long case. Pearl will discuss the strategy for guiding the settlement through Congress for approval.
- A Ringside Seat to the Cobell Litigation – Pursley
Former clerk to Chief Judge Royce Lamberth, who presided over the Cobell v. Jewell lawsuit for several years, will provide his perspective on the class action lawsuit, including an overview of the several rulings that came down under Judge Lamberth and the tactics employed by attorneys on both sides over the course of the case. Pursley will discuss the implications of Cobell on the public trust in the federal government and ways in which the judiciary can be a vehicle for restoring public trust.
- Trust Reform in the wake of Cobell – Leeds, Gehres
Stacy Leeds and Ed Gehres will provide an overview of federal trust responsibilities to Indian tribes and individual Indian people as well as the impacts to the trust relationship resulting from the settlement of the Cobell lawsuit.
- The View from the DOI – Washburn
Kevin Washburn will provide insight into the impacts of Cobell within the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and is charged with implementing the Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, a major component of the settlement of the case.
- Restoring the Public Trust
Gain a better understanding of the impacts of the Cobell case and settlement for federal agencies. Listen as our speakers explore nature of the erosion of public trust in the government and the implications that this erosion of trust has on the ability of the government to carry out its responsibilities.
Tribal Land Staff CLEs
The following series offers continuing legal education (CLE) credits from the perspective of tribal land staff. These sessions were offered live at the 4th Tribal Land Staff National Conference in April 2014. Click on the title link for access to each CLE.
- Covers how tribal land staff process easements and rights of ways internally for the purpose of tribally-owned roads, pipelines, utilities and ingress/egress that benefit the tribe and tribal members. (Originally aired April 9, 2014.)
- Explores the basics of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and how it will affect a tribe’s environmentally-sensitive projects. Discussion will include reviewing actual examples of an Environmental Assessment, Biological Assessment, Environmental Impact Statement and a Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI). (Originally aired April 9, 2014.)
- Provides a basic understanding of the different types of surveys and how to read a survey plat, legal descriptions and more. (Originally aired April 9, 2014.)
- Gives an overview of tribal water rights and their importance to tribal sovereignty. (Originally aired April 10, 2014.)
- Provides an up-to-date legislation, policies, regulations and court cases to stay current with issues affecting tribes and tribal members. (Originally aired April 10, 2014.)
Native Land Law CLEs
Native Land Law is a continuing legal education (CLE) series for legal professionals, tribal leaders and others interested in Indian law. The series offers CLE credits and training for legal professionals, tribal leaders and others interested in federal Indian law. It provides an overview of the 17 legal principles in Native Land Law: General Principles of Law Relating to Native Lands and Natural Resources and offers analysis of federal laws and policies that impact the field of Indian law today.
- Provides an overview of the fundamental principles of U.S. federal Indian law and examines the policies underlying Indian land law. Also provides an overview of Native Land Law’s 17 General Principles, including the historical context in which the Principles were developed and how they are applied today. (Originally aired April 9, 2013.)
- Explores the legal underpinnings of the Discovery Doctrine and plenary power and provides a review of analysis under current majority opinions and alternative analyses offered inNative Land Law. (Originally aired May 14, 2013.)
- Explores the history of treaty-making and the legal status of Indian treaties with the US as defined in the Constitution, in US case law and as referenced in international law. (Originally aired June 11, 2013.)
- Explores the legal rights of Native nations regarding ownership and control of their lands and the constitutional underpinnings of aboriginal title. (Originally aired July 9, 2013.)
- Reviews treaties and statutes that recognize and guarantee Indian and Alaska Native self-government and self-determination and explores whether or not it is legally necessary for land to be held in trust in order for it to be held under the jurisdiction of a Native nation, remain non-taxable by state and local governments, and continue to be protected against alienation. (Originally aired on Aug. 20, 2013.)
- Details constitutional limits of federal government to interfere with Native governments’ ownership of their lands and compares and contrasts these constitutional limits with the policy of self-determination held by the U.S. government for the last 50 years. (Originally aired Sept. 10, 2013.)
- Reviews current tax law as it relates to Indian lands and the activities on Indian lands and considers constructive reforms. (Originally aired Oct. 15, 2013.)
For more information on CLEs, please email Nichlas Emmons.
Land and Asset Management
This section includes useful information for all Indian landowners and tribes who want to learn more about managing their trust land and assets. We will continue to update these materials as more resources become available. Check back often!
Cutting through the Red Tape
Based on Message Runner, Vol. 5 “Cutting through the Red Tape” is a collection of federal forms used in the management of Indian lands and assets. Each page includes general information about the topic, helpful tips about how to read or process the relevant form, and where to go for help.
Land Management Resources
Contact information and links with useful information on a range of topics related to Indian land ownership and management.
- Intertribal Agriculture Council
- Indian Agricultural Resource Management Act of 1993
- Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans (June 2012) Includes resources and information specific to producers using American Indian trust land.
- Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) paper – Learn more about tribal community outreach focused on agricultural productivity, youth development and healthier communities.
- Code of Federal Regulations, CFR 25
- U.S. Department of the Interior
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians
Trust Beneficiary Call Center
4400 Masthead Street, NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
Historical Land Records
Indian Estate Planning and Probate
- American Indian Wills Clinic
Native American Legal Resource Center
Oklahoma City University School of Law
- California Indian Legal Services
- Center for Indian Law and Policy
Seattle University School of Law
- Columbia Legal Services
- Dakota Plains Legal Services
- DNA People’s Legal Services
- Montana Legal Services Association
- Swanson, Drobnick & Tousey P.C.
- Wisconsin Judicare
Indian Trust Settlement
- Indian Trust Settlement
P.O. Box 9577
Dublin, OH 43017-4877
- Indian Trust Settlement Flyer
Rights of Way
- BIA Procedural Handbook: Grants of Easement for Right of Way on Indian Lands (March 2006)
- Saving Fast Track
Reprinted from the July/August 2012 issue of Right of Way Magazine. Permission to publish granted by the International Right of Way Association (irwaonline.org).
Land Tenure Curriculum
The Indian Land Tenure Foundation provides free Indian land tenure curriculum for all educational levels.
Head Start & K-12 Curriculum
Lessons of Our Land is an interdisciplinary Indian land curriculum created by ILTF as a way to easily incorporate Native American stories, lessons and values into regular classroom instruction. Aligning with state educational standards, this dynamic, interdisciplinary curriculum is used successfully by teachers in more than 100 school districts. While Lessons of Our Land positions Native American tribal issues and values at the forefront, the curriculum emphasizes the fundamental relationship between land and people in general, not just Native Americans. The curriculum:
- Meets state standards in multiple core areas including history, art, civics, mathematics, science, geography and language arts
- Includes grade-level appropriate lessons in four key content areas
- Has a wide variety of online resources teachers can use to supplement the lessons
- Includes a teachers guide for curriculum integrations
- Has specific state adaptations for California, Minnesota and Montana. In addition to state adaptations there are general lessons which can be used to teach Native Land Tenure History anywhere in the U.S.A.
Learn more at lessonsofourland.org
The Native Land Tenure History course is intended to serve as a starting place for faculty to develop a course particular to the academic field in which it will be offered. It discusses Native land tenure issues and problems currently facing Indian people outlined as an introductory, three- or four-semester credit, college-level course. The curriculum components include:
- Background on Indian land tenure history and issues
- Course design that allows for easy modification to suit the individual needs of each instructor
- Sample 15-week course syllabus focusing on four major content areas:
- Historical origins of Native land tenure
- Major western concepts of Native “property” law
- Use and management of Native land
- Re-acquisition of the Native land base
Strategic Land Planning
The Strategic Land Planning course addresses the strategic land planning process and is designed to be taught in tribal and community colleges, aimed at students who are interested in community-based planning and development. Curriculum components include:
- Historical, legal, cultural, ecological and economic aspects of Indian land tenure and land use
- Application of specific problem-solving and strategic land planning practices to research, develop, implement and evaluate land tenure and land use decisions
- Participatory planning approach that engages all affected persons
- Emphasizes combined academic and experiential learning opportunities through partnerships, applied problem-solving research, community outreach and community service.
- Learn more about ILTF’s work since 2002 by reading past Annual Reports.
- General information on land use planning for Indian allottees as well as GIS-based land maps for Pine Ridge landowners to use for individual and tribal land planning purposes. Developed by Village Earth, with a grant from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation.
- An analysis of the BIA’s Indian Land Consolidation Pilot Program, which began in 1999, as a result of Congressional Acts and Supreme Court decisions that sought to remedy problems associated with fractionated ownership of Indian land title.
- A report by Indian Land Tenure Foundation to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians.
- Winning entries from Native Women and Youth in Agriculture’s annual student essay contest.
- The second community survey conducted by ILTF examines landownership and estate planning among Indian people.
- The first community survey conducted by ILTF about the importance of land and the value of property rights.