American Indian > Overview

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s American Indian law and policy practice provides legal and strategic advice to American Indian tribal governments and other entities that share a commitment to tribal political empowerment, sovereignty and economic development. Our lawyers and consultants design legal strategies, defend tribal rights and formulate public policy recommendations that make it possible for our tribal clients to accomplish their business, legal and political goals. Whether it is finding the capital necessary to help tribal clients grow their businesses or educational facilities or helping to ensure an advantageous legislative and regulatory environment, we draw from the collective knowledge and experience of one of the nation’s leading teams to help accomplish a particular client objective. Our significant accomplishments include:

  • assisting in the passage of the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act of 2011, which established a process by which American Indian tribes can approve their own surface land leases without having to wait for the Department of the Interior to approve each lease
  • playing a key role in the negotiation, implementation and congressional approval of two of the largest settlements of Indian water rights claims in U.S. history
  • advising on the development of one of the largest metropolitan Indian gaming projects in U.S. history
  • advising the Osage Nation in the largest-ever settlement of a claim made by a tribe against the United States government
  • playing significant role in obtaining passage of the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, P.L. 113-168, which clarified that general welfare programs offered by tribal governments to their citizens are exempt from federal taxation.

We are proud of our reputation for focusing on tribes, rather than simply on those wanting to do business in Indian Country. In fact, a large percentage of our practice comprises American Indians working on behalf of American Indians to help them achieve their business and cultural goals. Among the lawyers in the American Indian law and policy practice are members of the Gila River Indian Community, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, Potawatomi and Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians. Our practice also includes a former counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), as well as former senior staff at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Our Services

Drawing from the collective knowledge and experience of one of the nation’s leading legal teams, members of the American Indian law and policy practice represent tribal governments in complex issues, including those listed below.

Our Commitment

As part of Akin Gump’s commitment to the advancement of strong tribal governments and American Indian issues, the firm provides legal and professional services to individuals and organizations that are unable to pay for such services on matters that contribute to the development and strengthening of tribal sovereignty and culture. As an example, Akin Gump secured a recurring source of funding for tribal museums to help ensure that these entities are able to continue to provide information and insight on tribal cultures and their significance to our national society.

With regard to the work we perform for all our tribal clients, the professionals in Akin Gump’s American Indian law and policy practice pride themselves on careful analyses of each of our clients’ needs and skillful execution of legal and political strategies that most effectively achieve our clients’ goals. Akin Gump’s in-depth understanding of American Indian issues and laws, coupled with our extensive resources, position us to deliver comprehensive, high-quality service to our clients. At the heart of our practice is a service commitment designed to further the advancement of American Indian issues and to promote our clients’ success.