Oklahoma Indian Legal Services is a nonprofit legal aid organization providing legal services to low income Native Americans residing in Oklahoma. OILS represents Indian people in civil proceedings that result directly from the person's Indian status. OILS also works to inform the Indian population in Oklahoma by providing community education to Native American tribes and groups.
OILS is funded by the Legal Services Corporation in Washington, D.C. The Legal Services Corporation is a nonprofit organization established by Congress to provide legal assistance to indigent people. OILS also receives funding from the Oklahoma Bar Foundation JOLTA program, the United Way, and private contributions.
The problems facing Native Americans in Oklahoma is staggering. Oklahoma has the highest population of Native Americans in the country. Indians are the largest minority group in the state. Almost seventy-six thousand Native Am ericans are indigent. This means that one in every three Oklahoma Indians live below the poverty level, compared to one in six people in the general population. Thirty-four percent of all Indian children live in poverty, compared to less than twenty percent of the general population. The average per capita income among Native Americans is half that of the general population.
When the low income of Native Americans is combined with the complex and sometimes archaic laws that deal specifically with Tribes and tribal members, legal tragedy can result. The attorneys and the staff at OILS are the only legal organization providing free legal services to low-income Oklahoma Indians.
Oklahoma Indian Legal Services is one of eight programs nationally that deals exclusively with Indian status problems. OILS attorneys represent Native Americans statewide from a central location in Oklahoma City. They represent clients in tribal, state, and federal court. Not all applicants are accepted for services. Due to limited budget funds and the small number of available attorneys, OILS must carefully choose the cases and clients it accepts.
For that reason, OILS concentrates on cases that are likely to have a significant positive impact on the Indian population as a whole. OILS concentrates its efforts in five general areas: (1) Indian Child Welfare; (2) Housing; ( 3) Natural Resources; (4) Tribal Sovereignty; and (5) Individual Rights. OILS selects cases from these areas that are likely to increase general legal rights for Oklahoma's Indian population. OILS has been instrumental in improving federal allottee oil and gas law; in revamping social security laws to protect trust land; and in defending parental and tribal rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act.
OILS is honored by the private citizens and companies that contribute to our continuing work. If you would like to join these friends of Indian legal services, please fill out the donor card and return it and your contribution
to OILS. We appreciate your donation and vow to continue the struggle for Native Justice.
Oklahoma Indian Legal Services Donor Contribution