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Native American Tribes
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Legal definition in the United States

The term is defined in the United States for some federal government purposes to include only tribes that are federally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Such tribes, including Alaska Native village or regional or village corporations recognized as such, are eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States

Some tribes are recognized at the state level using procedures defined by various states, without regard to federal recognition. Other tribes are unrecognized because they no longer exist as an organized group or because they have not completed the certification process established by the government entities in question.

A few of the more well-known tribes include:

  • Abenaki
  • Algonquin
  • Apache
  • Cherokee
  • Choctaw
  • Comanche
  • Hopi
  • Iroquois
  • Lakota Sioux
  • Mahicans (also Mohicans)
  • Mohave
  • Mohawk

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Other uses for Tribal Affiliation:

In addition to their status as legal entities, tribes have political, social, historical, and other aspects. The term is also used to refer to various groups of Native Americans bound together for social, political, or religious purposes, including descendants of members of these groups. Tribes are typically characterized by distinct territory, and common language or dialect.Other characteristics include common culture and ethnicity.

Tribes are susceptible to overlapping external and internal definition. Whereas outsiders use their own definitions for what a tribe is, and who is a member, depending on the purpose, tribes may have their own definition of identity and membership. To the extent that many tribes are acknowledged as sovereign nations, the United States does recognize some limited rights of tribes to decide membership by their own criteria.

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