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The Native American Rights Fund, also known as NARF, is a non-profit organization that uses existing laws and treaties to ensure that U.S. state governments and the U.S. federal government live up to their legal obligations. NARF also "provides legal representation and technical assistance to Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide."
The Native American Rights Fund was founded in 1970. John Echohawk (Pawnee) co-founded the organization and currently serves as Executive Direction. NARF is governed by a volunteer board of directors composed of thirteen Native Americans from different tribes throughout the country with a variety of expertise in Indian matters. A staff of fifteen attorneys handles about fifty major cases at any given time, with most of the cases taking several years to resolve. Cases are accepted on the basis of their breadth and potential importance in setting precedents and establishing important principles of Indian law.
In September 2001 tribal Leaders met in Washington, D.C., and established the Tribal Supreme Court Project in an effort to "strengthen tribal advocacy before the U.S. Supreme Court by developing new litigation strategies and coordinating tribal legal resources." The ultimate goal is to improve the win-loss record of Indian tribes in Supreme Court cases. The Project is staffed by attorneys from Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and consists of a Working Group of over 200 attorneys and academics from around the nation who specialize in Indian law and other areas of law that impact Indian cases, including property law, trust law and Supreme Court practice. In addition, an Advisory Board of Tribal Leaders assists the Project by providing the necessary political and tribal perspective to the legal and academic expertise.
The Tribal Supreme Court does the following:
NARF has represented Native peoples in the case, Cobell v. Salazar, initiated by Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet) over the U.S. Department of the Interior's mismanagement of trust funds. The historic 13-year case resulted in a $3.4 billion settlement.
NARF publishes literature pertaining to Native American rights. They currently are co-publishing a book about tribal employment law.