Why Seek Federal Recognition?
Federal recognition is important to Tribes for several reasons:
- Federally recognized tribal governments possess a measure of sovereignty. Non-recognized tribes can form tribal organizations but lack sovereign powers.
- Federally acknowledged tribes can have their reservation lands placed in trust. This means that their land is protected by the federal government from being purchased or taken by non-Indians.
- Federally recognized tribes have a “trust relationship “with the government. This means that the federal authorities will protect their sovereign status, their lands and tribal property, and their rights as members of domestic dependent nations.
- Federal recognition means that the United States government recognizes the right of an Indian tribe to exist as a sovereign entity, which means the right of a group to be self-governing.
- Federally acknowledged tribes are eligible for federal health care and education funding through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Federally recognized tribes also have access to grants and housing .
- Federally recognized tribes provide a secure future for their posterity: “…my children won’t have to fight for what is rightfully theirs…” – Josephine Smith of the Shinnecocks of Southampton Tribe.