This is a guest post by Carla Davis-Castro, a research librarian for the Congressional Research Service. She worked on the Indigenous Law Portal from 2015 to 2017.
The Library of Congress launched the Indigenous Law Portal in June 2014 to provide an open-access platform for legal materials on how indigenous peoples govern themselves. Mexico and Central America are home to many of the peoples covered, so we thought National Hispanic Heritage Month would be a good time to call attention to the portal and encourage its use.
The portal features resources from the Law Library of Congress and links to tribal websites and digital primary sources. The resources are organized based on the evolving Library of Congress classification for the Law of Indigenous Peoples, Class KIA-KIX, spanning jurisdictions of the Western Hemisphere. Jolande Goldberg, a law classification specialist in the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate, leads development of the classification and provides content along with Law Library staff, volunteers and interns.
The portal launched with North America (Canada, the United States and Mexico). In 2016, Mexico was updated to include national and regional indigenous advocacy organizations. Central America was added just this summer. General resources are available for the region as well as links to the Central American countries El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Links to Belize and Costa Rica remain in progress. Each nation has or will have digital resources organized by category: organizations, councils or governments and tribes or communities.
One example of a modern digital resource from Costa Rica is the 2014 publication Bio-protocolo de Consulta y Consentimiento Libre, Previo e Informado del pueblo Mayangna Sauni Arungka, territorio Matumbak (Bio-protocols for the Consultation and Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the Mayangna Sauni Arungka Community, Matumbak Territory). This is an example of a collaborative endeavor between a global organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the tribal territorial government of Sauni Arungka Matumbak.
In the future, South America will be added, so check back with the Indigenous Law Portal as the work continues!
For more details about the portal’s development, read this blog post about its launch and the 2017 International Federation of Library Associations papers Legal Pluralism and Highlighting Indigenous Continuity.