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Massachusetts law about American Indians

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on Native Americans and tribal law in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 6, § 12I American Indian heritage week

MGL c. 6 § 12VV  Native American Day

MGL c. 6A, § 8A Commission on Indian affairs; membership; functions

MGL c. 21A § 18 Tribal housing authorities, fees and technical assistance from DEP

MGL c. 23K § 67 Negotiation with Indian tribes to establish gaming on tribal land

MGL c. 26 § 8L Regarding Indian Health Care Improvement Reauthorization and Extension Act of 2009

MGL c. 38, § 6 Unmarked human skeletal remains

MGL c. 114, § 17 Preservation of ancient burial places

Federal laws

25 U.S.C. Indians

Federal regulations

Selected case law

Adoption of Arnold, 50 Mass. App. Ct. 743 (2001)
Termination of parental rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Commonwealth v. Maxim, 45 Mass. App. Ct. 49 (1998) and 429 Mass. 287 (1999)
Fishing Rights

Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) v. Mass Com’n Against Discrim.,  63 F. Supp 2d 119 (1999)
Concerns sovereign immunity of the Tribe

Tribal Courts and governance

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council   
483 Great Neck Road, South
Mashpee, MA 02649
Phone: (508 )477-0208 Ext. 109

Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Tribal Council
20 Black Brook Road
Aquinnah, MA 02535-1546
Phone (508) 645-9299

Web sources

American Indian law & culture, UConn School of Law, Thomas J. Meskill Law Library
Explains the difference between Indian Law and Tribal Law, and provides links to other research guides and Resource and Practice Centers.

Feds revoking reservation status for tribe’s 300 acres, Associated Press, March 30, 2020
The “U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston upheld a lower court decision declaring the federal government had not been authorized to take land into trust for the Cape Cod-based tribe… The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe…argues a separate lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., is still pending.”

Handbook of Federal Indian law, by Felix S. Cohen, 1945 ed.
“First published in 1941, Felix Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law synthesized more than a century and a half of American Indian law. This treatise was an American legal realist classic and played an important role in both the history of federal Indian law and in the evolution of American jurisprudence.” - From the Foreword to the current edition.

Interior department deals blow to Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Cape Cod Times, September 8, 2018
The "U.S Department of the Interior... issued a finding that it could not keep 321 acres of land taken into trust for the tribe..., casting an ominous shadow on the Cape tribe’s future and its proposed $1 billion casino in Taunton." Includes a link to the DOI decision.

Legislature votes to repeal 1675 Hub ban on Indians,, May 20, 2005
"The Legislature yesterday voted to repeal a 330-year-old law banning Native Americans from entering Boston, removing a potential obstacle cited by a group of minority journalists reluctant to consider holding a convention here."

Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs
The fundamental role of MCIA is to assist Native American individuals, tribes, and organizations in their relationship with state

Native American legal websites, University of Tulsa, Oklahoma
A comprehensive listing of web sites that deal with Native law and legal issues. The University of Tulsa’s Mabee Legal Information Center also offers a Native American Legal Research Guide.

Office of Tribal Justice, U.S. Department of Justice
The Office of Tribal Justice (OTJ) was initially formed in 1995 in response to requests from Tribal leaders for a dedicated point of contact for Indian country-specific legal and policy matters. The Office became permanent in 2010 with the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act, 25 USC § 3665a (2010).

Tax information for Indian Tribal Governments, Internal Revenue Office of Indian Tribal Governments. 
ITG is the single point of contact with the Internal Revenue Service for Indian Tribal Governments and tribal associates. Information on tax topics and programs for tribes.

Tribal Court clearinghouse, a project of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute
“One of the most comprehensive websites on tribal justice system issues, and includes a wealth of tribal, state and federal resources.” Includes a good explanation of Tribal Courts with a directory.

WWW virtual library - American Indians: index of Native American legal resources on the internet
Includes general law resources, sources related to indigenous issues, legal practices with Indian law specialties, and international resources. 

Print sources

American Indian law in a nutshell, William C. Canby, Jr, West Academic Publishing, 2020.

Cohen's handbook of federal Indian law, LexisNexis, 2012 with supplements
This is an updated and revised edition of what has been referred to as the "bible" of federal Indian law. 



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: August 12, 2020