Douglas Lind: Tribal Law Exchange Project


Curriculum Vitae

Teaching Publications Research Graduate Students Tribal Law Exchange Project Judicial/Legal Educational Seminars



The Tribal Law Exchange is a multidisciplinary project at the University of Idaho, in cooperation with The National Judicial College. The project aims to enhance access to the legal materials of American Indian tribal justice systems through creation of a nationwide, web-accessible electronic database of tribal court opinions, tribal codes and constitutions, and related legal materials. The resultant product, the Tribal Law Exchange digital library, will be fully searchable and accessible on the worldwide web through its own web address and by hyperlink from web pages maintained by The National Tribal Judicial Center, The National Judicial College, and the University of Idaho. In addition to designing, creating, updating, and maintaining the project database, search engine, and web interface, the project participants are entering into contractual agreements with tribal courts and councils for permission to make their court decisions, codes, and constitutions available through the project digital library.  Other legal materials, including selected federal and state court opinions addressing federal Indian law, treaties, and United States statutory and regulatory provisions affecting Indian rights and tribal governance round out the legal materials accessible through the Tribal Law Exchange. In addition, the project participants will provide training in the use of the database and in conducting legal research more generally to tribal court judges and members of tribal councils.

The Tribal Law Exchange not only is of significant intellectual merit, holding the potential to broadly impact and promote the fields of Information Technology (IT) and social science, but it importantly explores ways that IT creates opportunities in the areas of ethics, civil rights, individual liberty, and the advancement of the democratic process in the United States. Tribal legal systems constitute not only the most conspicuous aspect of tribal sovereignty, but often the most contentious. Tribal courts today assert jurisdiction over an increasingly diverse array of legal disputes in Indian Country. Many also pursue the express objective of developing indigenous tribal jurisprudences - i.e., bodies of law and principles of adjudicative practice grounded in significant part in tribal custom and tradition, rather than in rules, principles, and methods of practice derived from Anglo-American law. There is, however, a dearth of readily accessible tribal legal materials, both online and in printed form. This lack of information inhibits efficient research and dissemination of tribal court decisions, as well as other tribal legal documents, such as codes, constitutions, and resolutions. It also generates suspicion and skepticism within and outside Indian Country as to the operation and fairness of tribal justice systems.

The Tribal Law Exchange aims to assist in the dissemination of the legal materials of American Indian tribal justice systems through its nationwide, web-accessible, and fully searchable digital library of tribal court opinions, tribal codes and constitutions, and related legal materials. The project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Computer-Communications Research, for the period from September 2003 to May 2007. The grant amount is $411,446.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or need more information, please contact Douglas Lind by

e-mail:, or phone: (208) 885-5761

Project Participants:                                                                                                                  Back to Top

The Tribal Law Exchange project team consists of three Principal Investigators, two consultant experts, graduate and undergraduate assistants, and an Advisory Board.

Principal Investigators:

Lead PI: Professor Douglas Lind, has a Ph.D. in philosophy and a J.D. in law. Currently Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Idaho, he serves on both the Philosophy and Environmental Science faculties at Idaho, as well as on the faculties of The National Judicial College and The Professional Educational Group, Inc.  As the Lead-PI on the Tribal Law Exchange project, he is responsible for overseeing the instant project, including handling all project legal matters, such as drafting contracts and site-branding agreements, contacting and working with tribal courts and councils, working with tribal court judges and Indian law scholars to determine the legal materials appropriate for inclusion in the project digital library, teaching legal research and database user skills to tribal court personnel, and directing the development of the database architecture and web interface to ensure appropriate search parameters and legal research functionality.

Co-PI: James A. Foster is a Professor of Computer Science and an Adjunct Professor of Biological Sciences and Philosophy at the University of Idaho. He is participating in this project in order to provide needed service to his community (a community situated between two Indian reservations) and in order to help support Native American activities. His primary role in the project is to direct and supervise the technical staff and to manage their efforts.

Co-PI: Delphine Keim-Campbell is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design in the Department of Art, University of Idaho. She leads students in visual projects that range from graphic design for print to web design to multi-media design. In addition to her university responsibilities, Keim-Campbell consults with private clients specializing in providing visual identities to these organizations and programs.  Her role in the Tribal Law Exchange project involves taking principal responsibility for website and graphic interface design.

Consultant Experts:

Consultant Expert 1: Judge Mitchell Wright. Judge Wright is one of the most prominent Native American judges in the United States.  Formerly Chief Judge of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, and an Associate Justice on the Inter-Tribal Court of Appeals of Nevada, Judge Wright currently works as a Judge Pro-Tempore for the Fort Mohave Tribal Court in Arizona. He also maintains a private law practice representing individual and institutional American Indian clients. He is the founder of the National Tribal Judicial Center. Judge Wright is a well-known tribal judge nationwide, currently serving as the Vice-President of the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA). His roles in this project are (1) to contact specific tribal personnel in person and by telephone providing information and gaining participation in the project digital library; and (2) traveling with PI Lind to attend meetings of NAICJA or other organizations to disseminate information, secure participation, and provide training in the project digital library.

Consultant Expert 2: Matt Williamson. Matt Williamson has fifteen years experience as a computer and technology consultant, providing him with a solid foundation in real-world information technology. His design skills include database, website, graphic, and application design. On current projects he functions as a database administrator, software engineer, webmaster, and designer/administrator of a regional inventory control system. Williamson’s role in the instant project will be to work under the general supervision and direction of PIs Foster and Lind in (1) designing and creating the project worldwide web database application in a manner that will readily handle the Tribal Law Exchange’s projected usage and functional needs, (2) developing searching algorithms (functionality) that will aid users in finding, adding, and updating tribal legal information found within the database application, and (3) assisting PI Lind in the oversight and coordination of data input and of the testing and initial operational phases of the Tribal Law Exchange digital library.


Among the students involved in the project, one is a graduate student in Graphic Design, the second a graduate student in Environmental Science. The graduate student in Graphic Design, Aimee Graham, works under the supervision of PI Keim-Campbell in website and interface design. The graduate student in Environmental Science, Evgeniy Perevodchikov, works with PI Lind in researching and acquiring tribal legal materials, scanning and formatting documents that are unavailable in electronic form, and formatting documents received electronically.

Advisory Board:

The Tribal Law Exchange Advisory Board consists of a number of prominent lawyers and legal scholars in American Indian and tribal law. The current Advisory Board members are the following:

Steve Aycock

Chief Judge, Colville Tribal Court, Nespelem, Washington

Sarah Deer

Staff Attorney, Tribal Law & Policy Institute;

Instructor, Tribal Legal Studies, UCLA Extension

Faye Hadley

Native American Law Resources Librarian, Native American Law Center, University of Tulsa College of Law, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Traci Hobson

Court Solicitor, Tohono O’odham Tribe, Sells, Arizona

Mark Pruner

Principal, Web Counsel, LLC, Stamford, Connecticut 

Judith Royster

Professor of Law, Native American Law Center,

University of Tulsa College of Law, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Stanley Webster

Commissioner, Oneida Appeals Commission, Oneida, Wisconsin 

Project Management Plan:                                                                                                      Back to Top

The general management plan for the project includes the following timeline. 

  Fall 03 Spring 04 Summer 04 Fall 04 Spring 05 Summer 05 Fall 05 Spring 06 Summer 06 Fall 06 Spring 07 Summer 07




Court Agreements

Data Entry




Infrastructure includes the website, database, and supporting tools that will make up the Tribal Law Reporter digital library. It will be capable of being viewed as two loosely related components: website and database application.

Documentation includes the creation of technical references and training manuals. Final documentation and instructional material will be developed to be published on-line and in print publication. This documentation will be created from data produced during the infrastructure creation phase.

Court Agreements. Now and throughout the four years of the grant project and continuing thereafter, the project team is contacting and working with tribal court judges and tribal council members to ensure substantial participation in the project digital library.  The Tribal Law Exchange formalizes its relationships with tribal governments by contractual agreements.

Data Entry: Documents are received by the project staff in either paper or electronic form. Paper documents are scanned and stored as images. These images are then interpreted by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. OCR technology extracts text from images. This technology is not yet mature, so human editing and proofing are needed in many cases. Application design is such that the scanned images will always be available for future proofing or as more reliable references.

Training. The project team will develop documentation and hands-on interactive techniques for training tribal court personnel in using the database application. It is expected that training in using the digital library will be offered through courses for tribal court judges at The National Judicial College and in workshops at other venues.

Current Project Status:                                                                                                                                      Back to Top

The Tribal Law Exchange is in its initial creation stage. Database creation and website design are ongoing. Initial contracts with tribal governments and courts are being developed. The project team is also involved in conversations with a number of tribal and tribal-related organizations and educational institutions about partnerships and collaborative arrangements.

Last update: 21-Nov-2005

If you are experiencing any problems with this website please contact: