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What does the term “Federally Recognized Tribe” mean?

“Federal Recognition” is a legal term meaning that the United States recognizes a government-to-governmentrelationship with a tribe and that a tribe exists politically as a “domestic dependent nation.” A federally recognizedtribe is one that was in existence, or evolved as a successor to a tribe, at the time of original contact with whites. Federally recognized tribes possess certain inherent rights of self-government and entitlement to certain federalbenefits, services, and protections because of treaties and the subsequent federal trust duty.

Tribes can also be “State Recognized.” The Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians in Montana is a StateRecognized Tribe. The Little Shell Tribe is working toward becoming a Federally Recognized Tribe through the process established by the federal government.

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Last Updated
4th of June, 2012

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