The U.S. government officially recognizes more than 500 Indian tribes in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. These federally recognized tribes are eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, either directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts.
The National Tribal Preservation Program is designed to help Indian tribes preserve and protect resources and traditions important to them. The program funds Tribal Heritage grants for federally recognized Indian tribes, to help them with cultural and historic preservation projects.
The program also funds Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, who:
- Inventory tribal historic properties
- Prepare and carry out a tribal-wide historic preservation plan
- Assist federal agencies with reviewing undertakings on tribal lands
When a federal agency reviews a project on tribal land, it must consult the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (for federally recognized tribes)—or a designated representative (for non-federally recognized tribes). Federal agencies also must consult with Indian tribes that attach religious and cultural significance to historic properties, regardless of their location.
- Requires federal agencies and museums to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections
- Requires federal agencies and museums to consult with federally recognized Indian tribes on the return of those objects to descendants, tribes, or organizations
- Authorizes grants to assist Indian tribes, Alaska native villages, and museums to document and return human remains and cultural objects to their native people
As part of its archeology program, the National Park Service collaborates with tribes, interprets the past to visitors, and protects archeological sites.
The federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation assists tribes with critical historic preservation issues, as does the nonprofit National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers.
Other Cultural Resources
- Learn how to trace Indian ancestry.
- Find specific counts, estimates, and statistics related to American Indian and Alaska Native populations, as well as data for American Indian and Alaska Native populations.
- Explore the diversity of the Native people of the Americas at the National Museum of the American Indian.
- See a list of important Native American places.
- Read federal news related to Native American land issues.
- Find out how members of Native American tribes can legally get eagle feathers and parts for ceremonies.
- Explore American history relating to Native Americans.
- Learn about World War II Navajo Code Talkers.
If you are looking for housing help, contact the following offices for assistance:
- To live on public lands, contact the Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH).
- To live on a reservation, contact a local Tribally Designated Housing Entity (TDHE).
Native American Housing Programs
- Indian Housing's Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) - administers housing and community development programs to ensure that safe, decent, and affordable housing is available to Native American families.
- Indian Housing Grant Programs - provide financial assistance for Indian tribes to develop affordable housing and to provide housing activities on a reservation or Indian area. Guidebooks available.
- Housing Improvement Program (HIP) - provides home repair, renovation, replacement, and new housing grants.
- Law Library of Congress—Lists laws related to Indians of North America.
- U.S. Department of the Interior Native American Resources—Compiles Native American-related legal information on tribal governments, federal agencies and records, and other legal sources.
- Senate Committee on Indian Affairs—Handles legislation about American Indians, Native Hawaiians, or Alaska Natives proposed by U.S. Senators.
- Tribal Constitutions and Codes—Lists tribal laws, to assist federally recognized tribes in governing themselves.
- Early Treaties—Features historic treaties between the United States government and American Indian tribes.
- Cultural and Historic Preservation—Discusses some of the laws that federal agencies must follow with Indian cultural and historic preservation.
- Office of Tribal Justice—U.S. Department of Justice office for Indian Tribes.
- Policy on Indian Sovereignty and Government-to-Government Relations with Indian Tribes—Recognizes the sovereign status of federally recognized Indian tribes as domestic dependent nations, among other directives.
- Indian Health Service Employment—Outlines the law that requires the Indian Health Service to provide absolute preference in employment to American Indians and Alaska Natives who are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe.
- Tribal and Alaskan Native Training—U.S. Department of Justice program that partners with Native American tribes and law enforcement to reduce crime on tribal lands.
- Crime Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice—Tribal Justice and Safety initiative to support public safety, victim services, and crime prevention in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
- Crime Prevention, Bureau of Indian Affairs—Office of Justice Services law enforcement programs in Indian communities and on reservations.
Money and Laws
- Indian Trust Program—Consists of 55 million surface acres and 57 million acres of subsurface minerals estates held in trust by the United States for individual American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives. If you have questions about Indian trust funds or assets, contact your local Fiduciary Trust Officer, or call the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 1-888-678-6836 (toll free).
- Tax Information for Indian Tribal Governments—Reviews tax issues for Native Americans, and offers FAQs and IRS contact information.
- Social Security—Provides information about Social Security Administration programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
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Last Updated: October 31, 2017