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Welcome to Indian Law

A survey of the law related to the native inhabitants of the United States. Topics include the relationship between tribes and the federal government, specialized laws concerning Indians, and natives outside of the federal Indian law framework.


Welcome to Indian Law! This course features 23 video lessons divided into four chapters.

Chapter 1 lays the foundation for this course. Indian law is as much of a journey through American history as it is a legal course. We’ll explain why we use the term “Indian” to refer to indigenous communities in federal law and travel through the key eras of Indian law from the 1700s to the present day. This chapter also dives into caselaw by looking at three Supreme Court cases from the 1800s, known as the Marshall Trilogy, that helped shape federal Indian law.

Chapter 2 examines tribes’ sovereign powers, the limits on tribal sovereignty, and the scope of tribal jurisdiction for civil and criminal matters.

Chapter 3 covers special issues that make Indian law so unique, such as Indian religious and cultural rights. We’ll take a detailed look at some specific acts that apply to Indians, including the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This chapter also highlights the impact of treaties in modern Indian law, particularly when determining whether Indians have rights to natural resources or the right to hunt and fish outside of Indian reservations.

Chapter 4 rounds out our course by looking at international indigenous communities. We’ll compare United States Indian law to laws that govern the First Nations in Canada, Indigenous Australians, and the Maori in New Zealand.

After watching this course, you’ll be ready to pass your final exam with ease, and perhaps just as important, you’ll be enriched with a historical and cultural perspective on the evolution of Indian rights in the United States. Let’s get started.