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Tribe (Native American) facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

An Indian tribe is any existing or historical tribe of Indigenous peoples in the Americas.

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 officially recognized by the government. Such tribes are eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States

Some 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.

A few of the more well-known tribes include:

Other uses

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.

Naming convention

Although the word "Indian" is somewhat disfavored to refer to Native Americans, and there has been some controversy over appropriate terminology, usage has persisted and is less controversial when referring to the Tribes. The word is often included in the names of the various tribes themselves.

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