FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
These are tribes that, through the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, have met a set of criteria that establishes them as historical tribes within the United States. As of November 2018, there are 573 federally recognized tribes.
Tipis were the types of homes that many of the tribes of the Great Plains lived in. Traditionally, a tipi would consist of the buffalo hides from approximately 20 buffalo. While there are some who choose to live in tipi’s in modern times, it is rare to find tribal people living in them as their primary home.
Some anthropologists suggest nearly 1,000 tribes existed, pre-Columbian, with most speaking their own languages. Today, there are approximately 300 tribal languages spoken in the United States.
Reservations are designated areas of land for Native American tribes in the United States; First Nations Reserves are designated areas of land for Native American tribes in Canada. Reservations were formed with the signing of treaties between the U.S. government and various tribes. Today there are 326 tribal reservations.
Not all tribes have gaming facilities. The Indian Gaming and Regulatory Act of 1988 gave Federally Recognized tribes the right, as semi-sovereign nations, to operate gaming operations. As of 2017, 238 tribes operated gaming facilities.
There are many different types of “headdresses.” Each tribe has their own protocol and standards by which tribal members receive and have the right to wear headdresses. It is important that Natives and non-natives respect the cultures and traditions of all tribes.
They do not. There are grants and scholarship opportunities available to tribal members, but most of this post-secondary educational money comes from private foundations. The amount of money that each tribe allocates for their tribal members to attend college varies greatly. It may range from only paying for books to tuition/living expenses.
Generally speaking, most tribes do celebrate Thanksgiving. It is strongly believed that the “original” Thanksgiving story occurred during what would’ve been a harvest celebration for the Wampanoags. Traditionally, tribal people had multiple harvest feasts throughout the year, giving thanks to the Creator. In modern times, Thanksgiving celebrations for tribal people are a great reason to gather with family and friends and “give thanks,” but not necessarily to honor the mythical 1621 picnic between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags.
This will vary from person to person. It is generally believed that some mascots are acceptable, like the Florida State Seminoles because they have worked with the Seminole Tribe to determine the best way to honor the tribe and culture. Other mascots, such as Indians, Warriors, Braves, etc. are more generic and may/may not be acceptable depending on how they are represented. And then there are the Redskins…a term that is generally seen as a racial slur by a great number of people (tribal and non-tribal). The greatest issue many tribal people have with mascots is that it is another example of the dominant culture taking from Native people without consulting with the host people of the area to determine if it is truly honoring to them.
A powwow is a Native American celebration that consists of drumming, singing, and dancing. It is a time when Natives spend time with family and friends, many of whom travel a long way to participate. Some powwows will have dancing, drumming, and singing competitions, while others do not. Powwows are NOT ceremonies. However, when attending a powwow (as a participant or spectator), you should respect the culture and protocol, understanding that different tribes may celebrate powwows differently.
Yes, anyone is welcome at powwows. Please respect the culture and protocol of each powwow, especially regarding photography, video, touching the dancer’s regalia, drums, etc. When unsure, politely ask for permission. Please do not be offended if the answer is “no.”
Yes. We just ask that they respect the culture and laws of each reservation.
Currently, the most widely accepted ways of referring to Native people is: Native Americans (in the US), First Nations (in Canada), Indigenous, or American Indians (less accepted). The term “Indians” is offensive to some, and not to others and can be polarizing.