General Information


    Oklahoma Indian Legal Services is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to low income Native Americans. OILS represents Indian people in civil legal proceedings connected with their Indian status. OILS also provides community education about Indian law issues to Native American groups.

    OILS is funded by the Legal Services Corporation in Washington, D.C.  Legal Services Corporation is a private nonprofit organization established by Congress to provide legal assistance to low income people. Oklahoma Indian Legal Services is also funded by the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, the Combined Federal Campaign, the Oklahoma Legal Services Revolving Fund, and private contributions.

    OILS is one of only eight programs nationally that deals exclusively with Indian legal problems. OILS attorneys handle cases statewide from a main office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Attorneys represent clients in tribal, state and federal courts. Oklahoma Indian Legal Services represents people only in Oklahoma. They cannot go outside of state boundaries.


    Not everyone can be represented by OILS. Funding limitations and federal regulations require that OILS carefully choose its clients. Selection guidelines are based on gross income, the number of people in the household, and outstanding debt. Certain limited exceptions apply to the guidelines. OILS may be able to help a person who is slightly above income.

    Applicants must be low income. The case cannot be criminal. The matter must be related to the Indian status of the applicant. If the case is fee-generating, OILS will usually refer the applicant to the private bar.

Tribes and Indian organizations may be represented by OILS if their group fits certain requirements. The tribe or organization must show that they lack the resources to hire a private attorney and that their legal problem has a significant impact on the rights of the general Indian population. Tribes may also contract with OILS to deliver certain services, such as the preparation of tribal legal codes. In those cases, OILS may be paid with tribal funds.

    OILS deals with five general areas of law. The first is Indian child welfare. This includes ICWA cases, adoptions and guardianships of children. The second area of law is Housing. This includes Indian Housing Authorities, MHO problems and habitability issues. The third area is Natural Resources. This includes trust or restricted land problems, mineral interests, probates, wills, and determination of heirships. The next area of concentration is Tribal Sovereignty issues. The final area is Individual Rights. This includes education, access to health care, discrimination, and Indian Civil Rights Act cases.

    Staff attorneys will examine the facts of the case, the issue presented, and the particular priority of the issue in order to reach a final decision as to whether representation is appropriate.


    As a general rule, OILS does not represent Indians who are suing other Indians. A person suing another Indian must be income eligible and fulfill other requirements for OILS's assistance.


    If you would like to apply for services, call our toll-free number. A person will ask you questions about your legal problem and get needed information for the application. Your application will then be given to an attorney for their assessment. If OILS is unable to assist you, they will give you advice or refer you to an agency who may be able to help.