Too often, a library, a legal research vendor, or even Google will digitize something, put it somewhere online, and call it accessible. But anyone who has ever struggled to find something online knows that simply existing somewhere on the internet does not mean something is accessible. The most valuable research resources are designed with features to help guide users and assist in search. The addition of Native American treaties to Hein’s American Indian Law Collection is an example of a research vendor adding features that make material truly more accessible.
Hein’s U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library already contains a work with the unassuming title, “Indian Affairs Laws and Treaties.” This multi-volume work contains a compilation of treaties concerning American Indians by Charles Kappler, the clerk of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Commonly known as “Kappler,” this index has been the best source to access treaties and laws affecting the native nations. But you kind of had to know that it existed.
Kappler’s was available in the U.S. Treaties and Agreements library, which lumped that title in with every other treaty in the library. A researcher looking for American Indian treaties would have to either: search across the U.S. Treaties and Agreements library and weed out things that are irrelevant, or know to go to Kappler’s.
But now Hein’s American Indian Law Collection has a comprehensive list of 418 American Indian Treaties, most with full text. It includes nine that were missing from Kappler’s famous compilation. It gives the name of the tribe, subjects, a description of the treaty, and who the signatories were. A librarian, Susan Galtier, worked hard to make sure that the treaties had metadata that let them be found and understood.
I think possibly the most interesting thing is the ability to see all of the treaties with one tribe organized together. The search possibilities are also great. You can narrow your search to pertain to a particular tribe. You can search for different subjects across agreements. You can combine those two. You could search for treaties tagged as being about “mineral resources” that involve the Creek Nation.
Were those treaties already available on HeinOnline? Yes. In fact, they’re also both in the Statutes at Large on Hein. But putting this information in its own area, tagging it with relevant information, and putting it with related things aids in finding information and comprehending what you find. Well done, Hein!
For other information on researching American Indian law, please see our research guide to American Indian Law Resources.