Cultural Resources

What Should I Do if I Find Native American Human Remains, Artifacts, or Other Cultural Resources on My Private Property? (basic information for private landowners regarding their duties when locating Native American artifacts or human remains upon their property.)

This guide explains defines cultural resources and provides a summary of the law for landowners who find such cultural resources on their private property. The guide also provides additional reading resources and state goverment contact information.

For other information please see the California Native American Heritage Comimission’s website at:

Indian Taxation

1. State Income Tax and Native Americans. Provides a broad overview of common issues encountered by Native Americans with regards to California state income taxes.

This guide offers a broad overview of the current state taxation laws for individuals. Your individual circumstances must be taken into consideration before you can be sure that your income is exempt from state tax, so we cannot guarantee that the information in this guide will apply to your personal situation. The guide also contains a short explanation on the impact of the health care coverage laws upon individual income tax returns.

Trust Assets and Probate

1. What is the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA)?(pdf)
(Guide to understand the effect of the AIPRA for those with or without a Will)

This guide provides information on the American Indian Probate Reform Act (also known as “AIPRA”) and how that law affects Indian trust lands (or allotments). While this guide does not focus specifically on Estate Planning or Wills, it does provide important information for people who own trust lands (allottees) about Estate Planning for their property. For information on what happens when an Indian person passes away, please see our “Probate Process for Native Americans” handout.

2. Respecting Your Wishes: Estate Planning for California Native Americans (pdf)
(This guide is designed to help you understand the basics of estate planning)

This guide is designed to help you understand the basics of estate planning but it is not meant as a comprehensive guide. When reading this guide for the first time, please read the guide from the beginning to end in order to best understand the information. It is important to note that if you are specifically looking for information on Indian Wills or the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA) then see our handout entitled, “What is the AIPRA?”

3. Probate Process for Native Americans (pdf)
(Basic guide to understanding the federal and state probate process for Indians)

This guide answers some of the most frequently asked questions about probate that you may have after an Indian loved one passes away. This guide does not focus upon Estate Planning or Wills. If you have questions regarding Indian Wills, please see our handout entitled, “What is the AIPRA?” This guide focuses on situations where the person who passed away had land in his or her name. Specifically the guide examines the situation where a person died who had interest in “trust” land (on a reservation or public domain allotment). This guide primarily discusses probates handled through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Hearings and Appeals. It does not focus upon the state court system. Probate is a complicated area of law. This guide is only an introduction to the probate process.

State Court Forms


In most cases, you have to pay a fee to file papers with the court. The fees are uniform in all 58 California counties (except for Riverside, San Bernardino and San Francisco counties, where fees may include a small surcharge related to local court construction needs).  This link gives you more information about asking the superior court for a fee waiver.


For State Court forms, visit the California Courts’ Website forms page at:

The Judicial Council adopts legal forms in one of two ways. Under Government Code section 68511, the council may “prescribe” certain forms. Use of those forms is mandatory. The council may also “approve” forms. Use of an approved form is not mandatory, but the form must be accepted by all courts in appropriate cases. Forms thus are “adopted” for mandatory use and “approved” for optional use.

Indian Child Welfare

1. What is the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)? (pdf)
(Basic guide for parents and Indian families about the ICWA)

This guide explains what the Indian Child Welfare Act is, why it was passed, and how it applies in California. If you’re a parent or Indian custodian, this guide can help you decide if ICWA applies to your situation, and explains what your rights are if ICWA does apply. It also explains what rights tribes have in your case, if ICWA applies.

2. What is an Indian Custodian? (pdf) (How an individual can be considered an Indian Custodian under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Includes form)

This guide explains what an Indian custodian is. It also explains what responsibilities and rights Indian custodians have. This guide can help you if you are an Indian custodian or you need to become one. This guide can also help you if you are an Indian parent and you think you want someone else to be an Indian custodian for your child. An Indian Custodian Form (“Designation of Indian Custodian”) is attached for you to use.