kids encyclopedia robot

Indian reservation facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Indian reservations
Also known as:
Domestic Dependent Nation
Category Autonomous administrative divisions
Location United States of America
Created 1658 (Powhatan Tribes)
Number 326 (map includes the 310 as of May 1996)
Populations 123 (several) - 173,667 (Navajo Nation)
Areas ranging from the 1.32-acre (0.534 hectares) Pit River Tribe's cemetery in California to the 16 million-acre (64 750 square kilometers) Navajo Nation Reservation located in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah

An Indian reservation is a place in the United States where Native Americans manage their own land under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. They are not managed by the state governments. There are currently 326 Indian reservations.

Some tribes do not have their own reservations. Sometimes, a reservation may be shared by two or more tribes. The 2000 United States census showed a larger number of Native Americans and Alaska Natives no longer lived on Indian reservations. Many now live in larger cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Twelve Indian reservations are larger than the state of Rhode Island (776,960 acres; 3,144 km²) and nine reservations are larger than Delaware (1,316,480 acres; 5,327 km²). Some states have many reservations and some states have none.

The government unit with jurisdiction over Indian reservations is the tribal council, rather than federal, state, or county governments. Indian reservations often have their own systems of government, which may or may not copy the forms of government found outside the reservation.


Pamunkey Indian Reservation cabin
Pamunkey Indian Reservation cabin
Cherokee Indian Reservation sign, NC
Cherokee Indian Reservation sign, NC
Fort Apache Indian Reservation entrance
Fort Apache Indian Reservation entrance
Augustine Indian Reservation
Augustine Indian Reservation
2013 - Land of the Aha Macav - the Avi Casino and Resort - panoramio
Land of the Aha Macav - the Avi Casino and Resort
Apache Gold Casino - panoramio
Apache Gold Casino - panoramio

The United States began creating reservations for Native Americans during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant in the late 1860s. The relationship between the settlers and the natives had become more tense because the settlers were taking the natives' hunting grounds and natural resources.

Grant looked for a solution that would keep the peace. He created a policy that would reorganize the Indian Service. Its goal was to move various tribes from their ancestral homes to different plots of land. He sent Quakers to oversee the agencies on the reservations. Their goal was to "civilize" the tribes and prepare them for United States citizenship. This idea was eventually abandoned.

The Indian New Deal

The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, also known as the Wheeler-Howard Act, was sometimes called the Indian New Deal. The major goal was to stop trying to "civilize" the Native Americans. Instead, it would try to protect tribal land, bring back tribal governments, and help them economically. For the following twenty years, the U.S. government invested in infrastructure, health care, and education on the reservations, and over two million acres (8,000 km2) of land were returned to various tribes.

Life and culture

Many Native Americans who live on reservations deal with the federal government through two agencies: the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

Many people who live on Indian reservations live in poverty. Shannon County, South Dakota, home of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, is described as one of the poorest counties in the nation.


In 1979, the Seminole tribe in Florida opened a high-stakes bingo operation on its reservation in Florida. The state attempted to close the operation but was stopped in the courts. California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act said that Native American tribes have the right to have gambling and gaming businesses on their reservations. These businesses and their hotels have drawn tourists to the reservations, bringing in money for the tribes.

Interesting facts about Indian reservations

  • The 326 Indian reservations in the U.S. make up about 2.3% of the entire country.
  • Over 1 million Native Americans live on reservations.
  • The Navajo Nation Reservation is the largest reservation in the U.S. It covers 16 million acres of land in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.
  • Some of the laws that were passed in the U.S. that help protect Native Americans are the Indian Citizen Act, the Indian Reorganization Act, and the Indian Civil Rights Act.
  • 25 states have reservations on them. California alone has 121 reservations.
  • As of 2021, there are 574 Native American tribes recognized by the U.S. government.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American Indians.
  • Families that live on individually owned land are more productive than those that live on communal land.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Reserva india para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Influential Hispanic politicians
Maria Elvira Salazar
Veronica Escobar
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Lucille Roybal-Allard
kids search engine
Indian reservation Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.