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Indian Recognition and Citizenship

Learn about the government’s power to recognize Indian tribes and Indian citizenship.


I. Federally Recognized Tribes

The federal government has the power to both recognize a group as an Indian tribe and terminate a tribe’s federal recognition. Federally recognized tribes are eligible for programs and services offered by the United States federal government because of their status as Indian tribes. When the federal government recognizes a tribe, it’s legally acknowledging the tribe’s sovereign and political status as a tribal nation. Congress can’t arbitrarily declare that a...