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Indigenous Peoples: legal resources: Indigenous Peoples

Subjects: Law

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students and researchers studying the legal status, rights, and legal traditions of indigenous peoples at the University of Oxford, although students and researchers from any field may find it useful.

Use this guide to find out about sources and commentary for indigenous law, including ebooks, ejournals, and databases.


Self-identification by peoples - whether they use indigenous or tribal or native etc - is fundamental. (The governments of the nation states in which they live may use other terms such as ethnic minorities.)

“Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system."
Jose R. Martinez Cobo, Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities,  Study on the Problem of Discrimination against Indigenous Populations UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1986/7 and Add. 1-4. (Add. 4 has conclusions & recommendations.)

Critical Indigenous Legal Theory and Critical Indigenous Rights Theory movements are addressing the problems inherent in the fact that it has been the writings of non-Indigenous scholars which have, until very recently, been dominant.

There may also be other Law Bod guides which could help you further in this and related studies.
See examples below

Indigenous peoples: law & rights

This guide draws together some of the many resources available in the Bodleian Law Library, and online, in relation to indigenous peoples and the law, in the numerous national jurisidictions listed in the tabs across the top of the page. Under each jurisdiction are links to legislation, case law, journals, electronic resources and books. See also the United Nations page for an overview of the position of and support for indigenous peoples in relation to public international law. (Some content is similar to this page.)

Navigate through this guide by clicking on the pertinent  tab in the range you can see above this box (below the main title of this guide).

Online resources

The following links are just examples of general starting points - dealing with the international law dimension - please use the other pages in this guide to discover others, and research tips and tools. 


You will find resources relating to indigenous peoples on all four floors of the Law Library: in brief, material will be in different areas on the jurisdictional/geographic focus and type of material. 

(Public) International law (such as human rights, international trade, genocide etc): the shelfmark for this collection begins with Internat. Law reports, journals (post 2000 on), and monographs are on Floor 3. (Older journal issues are on Ground Floor)

Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and US monographs are in the area with shelf marks beginning K, on Level 2.

KM208.431 is the shelf mark for the civil rights protection of indigenous peoples - to which will be added a geographic indicator A8 for Australia, C1 for Canada, N4 for NZ, and U4 for United States.

Comparative studies have shelf marks beginning General or Cw Gen. Monographs are also on Floor 2.

European jurisdictions are on Level 3, and the remaining nations of the world on Level 1.

The Bodleian Official Papers Collection is on our Floor 0. Their collection is open access and catalogued on SOLO. Look out for shelf marks beginning O.  They have an excellent collection of United Nations publications.

Useful SOLO search terms as a starting point include

Indigenous peoples -- Legal status, laws, etc;

Indigenous peoples -- Civil rights