The United States government officially recognizes 562 tribes.
In the United States, an Indian tribe is a fundamental unit, and the constitution grants Congress the right to interact with tribes. Federal tribal recognition grants to tribes the right to certain benefits and is largely controlled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In addition to those tribes that are recognized, hundreds of others have not yet achieved recognition. These unrecognized tribes are organizations of people who claim to be historically, culturally, or genetically related to historic Native American Indian tribes but are not officially recognized as indigenous nations by the United States federal government.
Lengthy and expensive “recognition” procedures are required to qualify for government economic and health-care assistance, protection of sacred burial grounds, and other benefits.
Among the program’s many problems is that more than 100 tribes currently classified by the government as “unrecognized” already signed treaties with the feds many years ago, but Congress never ratified those agreements.
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
— Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior, and orator
Some of our Featured Tribe Articles (see list for more):