The University of Wisconsin Law Library has won the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) 2023 Public Access to Government Information Award for the "Digital Publication of Tribal Laws Pilot Project," in partnership with the National Indian Law Library, the Open Law Library, the UW Great Lakes Indigenous Law Center and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians.

For a majority of the 574 federally recognized American Indian tribes, no laws have been published. Where it is available, tribal law is scattered across databases, websites, and print publications, often incomplete and outdated.

This pilot project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, worked with Native Nations to make their laws publicly available using a customizable publishing platform that offers tribes full ownership and control over their content. Three tribes, including Wisconsin’s Stockbridge-Munsee and Lac Courte Oreilles, have already openly published their laws using this platform, and several others are in development.

"Too often, tribal law is excluded from our collective understanding of 'American law,' leading to the marginalization of Native communities and the invisibility of their governance structures," said Bonnie Shucha, associate dean and director of the UW Law Library. "As law librarians, we recognize the imperative need to expand our conception of American law to encompass the work and experiences of Tribal nations. We believe that the Digital Publication of Tribal Laws Pilot Project will help enhance the power and visibility of Tribal law and empower libraries to provide public access to these important sources of law."   

Established in 1998, the Public Access to Government Information Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to protect and promote greater access to government information, thereby increasing the public's knowledge about the workings of government. 

“These outstanding award winners are shining examples of the excellence and commitment that exist within the legal information community,” said AALL President Beth Adelman. “Their passion, expertise, and tireless efforts to advance the profession have enriched the field and have had a positive impact on the communities they serve.” 

Submitted by Law School News on June 1, 2023

This article appears in the categories: Features

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