Native American Rights Fund

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NATIVE AMERICAN RIGHTS FUND (NARF) was established in 1970 by the staff of California Indian Legal Services, a poverty law program, with principal support from the Ford Foundation. The next year NARF became a separate entity, established its headquarters at Boulder, Colorado, and launched its information project, the National Indian Law Library. Offices in Washington, D.C., and Anchorage, Alaska, were added later. The NARF board of directors is comprised of prominent Native American leaders from across the United States. John E. Echohawk, a leading national figure in Indian law, was NARF executive director in 2002, a position he had held for more than a quarter century.

NARF provides legal advice and representation to Native American tribes, communities, and individuals in matters of major significance. Its declared priorities are preservation of tribal existence, protection of tribal resources, promotion of human rights, accountability of governments to Indian people, and development of and education about Indian law. NARF has played a central role in defending Native American tribal sovereignty, preserving Indian land and other natural resources, and protecting Indian treaty fishing rights and Indian religious rights. It has gained federal recognition for tribes around the country, particularly in the eastern United States; addressed the unique needs of Alaskan Native communities; and enforced the federal government's trust responsibility to tribes and individuals. Since its founding, the NARF

has participated in nearly every Indian law case before the U.S. Supreme Court.


McCoy, Melody. Tribalizing Indian Education: Federal Indian Law and Policy Affecting American Indian and Alaska Native Education. Boulder, Colo.: Native American Rights Fund, 2000.

Sanders, Susan, and Debbie Thomas. "Native American Rights Fund: Our First Twenty Years." Clearing house Review 26 (1992): 49–56.

Wind, Wabun. The People's Lawyers. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973.

Richard B.Collins

See alsoIndian Rights Association ; Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act .

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Native American Rights Fund