West's American Tribal Law Reporter
Published by West, the American Tribal Law Reporter, though it contains perhaps the most extensive collection of tribal court decisions, reports decisions from only a limited number of tribes.
Oklahoma Tribal Court Reports
A unique resource collecting Oklahoma tribal case law is the Oklahoma Tribal Courts Reports (OTCR). The OTCR was initially published in 1994 by the Native American Legal Resource Center at Oklahoma City University. Although the initial publication was in 1994, as evidenced by the Index of Cases Reported (chronologically) in Volume 1 of the OTCR, there are case opinions dating from as far back as 1979. The most recent volume of the OTCR, Volume 9, was published in 2008 and covers cases from 2000-2006. The OTCR is edited by Dennis W. Arrow, a professor at the Oklahoma City University School of Law and the Associate Director of the Native American Legal Resource Center.
While the OTCR provides complete opinions, as acknowledged by the editor, it is “an ‘unofficial’ case law reporter, and the authoritative texts are the original opinions and orders filed with the clerks of Oklahoma’s tribal and C.F.R. courts.”
Although the OTCR is available on Westlaw, it is not part of the West National Reporter System described in Chapter 6. Thus, the OTCR does not have many of the editorial enhancements of West reporters. Arrow has, however, provided some enhancements. For instance, each volume of the OTCR contains four indexes of cases reported. These indexes list cases alphabetically by party, alphabetically by tribe, chronologically, and by case number. Additionally, Arrow has provided headnotes for each case. The structure of the headnote system is original and is dissimilar to the LexisNexis or West headnote structure. The headnote structure is set forth in the blue appendix pages in each print volume. (See Figure 10-1.) Unfortunately, the headnote system may be of limited value in locating cases with similar headnotes because only Volume 1 of the OTCR contains a digest following the headnote structure. Of course, a keyword search for headnote terms can be conducted when researching the OTCRon Westlaw.
Some tribal court opinions may be located on tribal websites. However, many tribal courts do not yet routinely post opinions to the web or provide a systematic means of searching for opinions. The National Indian Law Library Tribal Court Gateway (http://www.narf.org/nill/triballaw/) links to individual tribal court web sites.
The Northwest Intertribal Court System provides free online access to appellate opinions for 30 tribes in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, available at http://www.codepublishing.com/WA/NICS/.
Tribal Justice LibGuide - Opinions Authored by Justice Frank Pommersheim
The USD School of Law McKusick Law Library and Professor Frank Pommersheim maintain a LibGuide containing PDFs of all the tribal court opinions authored by Professor Pommersheim. These opinions are organized both by Tribal Court and by Subject.
Indian Law Reporter
A publication of the American Indian Lawyer Training Program, the Indian Law Reporter contains:
- United States Supreme Court opinions and proceedings
- United States Courts of Appeals opinions
- United States District Court opinions
- United States Court of Federal Claims
- State Court opinions
- Tribal Court opinions
- Miscellaneous proceedings (U.S. Tax and Bankruptcy Court decisions, IBIA and IBLA decisions).
The Indian Law Reporter is not available electronically. However, an online Cumulative Subject Index is available at the National Indian Law Library at http://www.narf.org/nill/ilr/.
Tribal Law & Policy Insitute and VersusLaw
The Tribal Law & Policy Institute and VersusLaw have a cooperative arrangement to allow searching of a collection of tribal court opinions. This collection can be searched via the Tribal Law & Policy Institute's Tribal Court Opinion Search or law students may register for free access to VersusLaw to gain access to the collection.
Tribal Court Dockets
Some state court systems are also working to include tribal courts dockets and documents in their online record systems. As evidenced below, Oklahoma is an example of one state including select tribal court dockets.