American Indian Communities in Minnesota - Definitions

American Indian Communities in Minnesota

Allotment: Reservation land specified for an individual or family, originally held in trust by the federal government. Titles can be transferred to the individual to allow for the sale of the land. Reservation land was allotted through the General Allotment Act (Dawes Act) of 1887 and the Nelson Act of 1889, and was ended by the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.(1)

American Indian: There is general agreement that there is no single definition or criterion for declaring someone to be an American Indian. The Census Bureau, individual tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) all have varying criteria. These definitions range from people who identify themselves as American Indians, to tribal members, to those having one-fourth or more American Indian ancestry. Tribes generally have the power to determine tribal membership.(2)

Indian Country: An area where the tribe has the power of self-government. As defined by federal law, it consists of reservations, dependent American Indian communities, and American Indian allotments. The definition of "Indian Country" includes non-Indian owned lands within the boundaries of reservations.(3)

Reservation: An area of land reserved for the use of American Indians. The reservation can be created through treaty, congressional legislation or executive order.(4)

Treaty: Legal agreements made between two or more sovereign nations. American Indians and the U.S. government signed 371 treaties from 1777 to 1871 over land allocation and use. These treaties were made when American Indians relinquished much of their land to the federal government.(5)

Tribal Trust Land: Communal reservation land held in trust for a tribe by the U.S. government, which holds the legal title. The tribes control the use of this land through their governing body.(6) This is distinct from the tribal fee land, where the band or community itself holds the legal title.

Tribal Member: An individual formally recognized by a tribe as a member. The requirements for recognition vary and are set by each tribe.(7)

Tribe: There are both federally recognized and ethnological tribes. A federally recognized tribe has a special legal relationship with the U.S. government. These are often based on ethnological tribes which are groups of "people bound together by blood ties who were socially, politically, and religiously organized, who lived together in a defined territory and who spoke a common language or dialect."(8)

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