Federal Recognition of Tribes Page 2


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.

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