The Federal Rules of Evidence hearsay rules unjustifiably exclude legitimate and trustworthy evidence that support many Native American legal claims. Native American communities traditionally were not literate and rarely recorded the treaties, contracts, and other legal instruments they drew up or honored in any kind of written format, oftentimes recording their histories and diplomatic events in other ways; take for example wampum belts used by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, among others. While the U.S. legal system presupposes that evidence in written statements provides a greater assurance of accuracy and truth than oral statements, this is not always the case. Writing is as susceptible to forgery, revision, manipulation, and misinterpretation as oral knowledge. Traditional Native American accounts of past experiences and realities are not honored in the courtroom, which strips authority from the robust institutions Native Americans employ in order to pass down and collectively maintain their own bodies of knowledge. This is a serious problem in Native American jurisprudence today.
Virupaksha Katner, Max. "Native American Oral Evidence: Finding a New Hearsay Exception." Tribal Law Journal 20, 1 (2020). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/tlj/vol20/iss1/3