Native Americans and American Indians:
Frequently Asked Questions
Native American Questions and Answers
"Presently there are 562 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska
Natives in the United States."
I. Why Tribes Exist Today in the United
What are Indian treaty rights?
From 1778 to
1871, the United States’ relations with individual American Indian nations indigenous to what is now the U.S. were defined
and conducted largely through the treaty-making process. These “contracts among nations” recognized and established
unique sets of rights, benefits, and conditions for the treaty-making tribes who agreed to cede of millions of acres of their
homelands to the United States and accept its protection. Like other treaty obligations of the United States, Indian
treaties are considered to be “the supreme law of the land,” and they are the foundation upon which federal Indian
law and the federal Indian trust relationship is based.
What is the legal status of American Indian and Alaska Native
Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution vests Congress, and by extension the Executive
and Judicial branches of our government, with the authority to engage in relations with the tribes, thereby firmly placing
tribes within the constitutional fabric of our nation. When the governmental authority of tribes was first challenged in the
1830's, U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall articulated the fundamental principle that has guided the evolution
of federal Indian law to the present: That tribes possess a nationhood status and retain inherent powers of self-government.
What is the federal Indian trust responsibility?
federal Indian trust responsibility is a legal obligation under which the United States “has charged
itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust” toward Indian tribes (Seminole Nation v. United
States, 1942). This obligation was first discussed by Chief Justice John Marshall in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
(1831). Over the years, the trust doctrine has been at the center of numerous other Supreme Court cases, thus making it one
of the most important principles in federal Indian law.
The federal Indian trust responsibility is also a legally enforceable fiduciary
obligation on the part of the United States to protect tribal treaty rights, lands, assets, and resources, as well as a duty
to carry out the mandates of federal law with respect to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages. In several
cases discussing the trust responsibility, the Supreme Court has used language suggesting that it entails legal duties, moral
obligations, and the fulfillment of understandings and expectations that have arisen over the entire course of the relationship
between the United States and the federally recognized tribes.
What is a federally recognized tribe?
recognized tribe is an American Indian or Alaska Native tribal entity that is recognized as having a government-to-government
relationship with the United States, with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation,
and is eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Furthermore, federally recognized tribes are recognized as possessing certain
inherent rights of self-government (i.e., tribal sovereignty) and are entitled to receive certain federal benefits, services,
and protections because of their special relationship with the United States. At present, there are 562 federally recognized
American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages.
How is federal recognition status conferred?
most of today’s federally recognized tribes received federal recognition status through treaties, acts of Congress,
presidential executive orders or other federal administrative actions, or federal court decisions.
In 1978, the Interior Department issued regulations governing the Federal
Acknowledgment Process (FAP) to handle requests for federal recognition from Indian groups whose character and history varied
widely in a uniform manner. These regulations – 25 C.F.R. Part 83 – were revised in 1994 and are still in
Also in 1994, Congress enacted Public Law 103-454, the Federally Recognized
Indian Tribe List Act (108 Stat. 4791, 4792), which formally established three ways in which an Indian group may become federally
- By Act of Congress,
- By the administrative procedures under 25 C.F.R. Part 83, or
- By decision of a United States court.
However, a tribe whose relationship with the United States has been expressly
terminated by Congress may not use the Federal Acknowledgment Process. Only Congress can restore federal recognition
to a “terminated” tribe.
The Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act also requires the Secretary
of the Interior to publish annually a list of the federally recognized tribes in the Federal Register. The list
was last published on April 4, 2008 (73 C.F.R. 18553).
What does tribal sovereignty mean to American Indians and
When tribes first encountered Europeans, they were a power to be reckoned with because the
combined American Indian and Alaska Native population dominated the North American continent. Their strength in numbers,
the control they exerted over the natural resources within and between their territories, and the European practice of establishing
relations with countries other than themselves and the recognition of tribal property rights led to tribes being seen by exploring
foreign powers as sovereign nations, who treatied with them accordingly.
However, as the foreign powers’ presence expanded and with the establishment
and growth of the United States, tribal populations dropped dramatically and tribal sovereignty gradually eroded. While
tribal sovereignty is limited today by the United States under treaties, acts of Congress, Executive Orders, federal administrative
agreements and court decisions, what remains is nevertheless protected and maintained by the federally recognized tribes against
further encroachment by other sovereigns, such as the states. Tribal sovereignty ensures that any decisions about the
tribes with regard to their property and citizens are made with their participation and consent.
What is a federal Indian reservation?
In the United States there are three types of reserved federal lands:
military, public, and Indian. A federal Indian reservation is an area of land reserved for a tribe or tribes under treaty
or other agreement with the United States, executive order, or federal statute or administrative action as permanent tribal
homelands, and where the federal government holds title to the land in trust on behalf of the tribe.
Approximately 56.2 million acres are held in trust by the United States for
various Indian tribes and individuals. There are approximately 326 Indian land areas in the U.S. administered as federal
Indian reservations (i.e., reservations, pueblos, rancherias, missions, villages, communities, etc.). The largest is
the 16 million-acre Navajo Nation Reservation located in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The smallest is a 1.32-acre
parcel in California where the Pit River Tribe’s cemetery is located. Many of the smaller reservations are less
than 1,000 acres.
Some reservations are the remnants of a tribe’s original land base.
Others were created by the federal government for the resettling of Indian people forcibly relocated from their homelands.
Not every federally recognized tribe has a reservation. Federal Indian reservations are generally exempt from state
jurisdiction, including taxation, except when Congress specifically authorizes such jurisdiction.
Are there any federal Indian reservations in Alaska?
one. It is the Metlakatla Indian Community of the Annette Island Reserve in southeastern Alaska.
Are there other types of “Indian lands”?
Other types of Indian lands are:
- Allotted lands, which are remnants of reservations
broken up during the federal allotment period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although the practice
of allotting lands had begun in the eighteenth century, it was put to greater use after the Civil War. By 1885, over
11,000 patents had been issued to individual Indians under various treaties and laws. Starting with
the General Allotment Act in 1887 (also known as the Dawes Act) until the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, allotments were
conveyed to members of affected tribes and held in trust by the federal government. As allotments were taken out of
trust, they became subject to state and local taxation, which resulted in thousands of acres passing out of Indian hands.
Today, 10,059,290.74 million acres of individually owned lands are still held in trust for allotees and their heirs.
- Restricted status, also known as restricted fee, where
title to the land is held by an individual Indian person or a tribe and which can only be alienated or encumbered by the owner
with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior because of limitations contained in the conveyance instrument pursuant
to federal law.
- State Indian reservations, which are lands held in
trust by a state for an Indian tribe. With state trust lands title is held by the state on behalf of the tribe and the
lands are not subject to state property tax. They are subject to state law, however. State trust lands stem from
treaties or other agreements between a tribal group and the state government or the colonial government(s) that preceded it.
American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, businesses, and individuals may
also own land as private property. In such cases, they are subject to state and local laws, regulations, codes, and
Does the United States still make treaties with Indian tribes?
Congress ended treaty-making with Indian tribes in 1871. Since then, relations with Indian groups have been formalized
and/or codified by Congressional acts, Executive Orders, and Executive Agreements. Between 1778, when the first treaty
was made with the Delawares, to 1871, when Congress ended the treaty-making period, the United States Senate ratified 370
treaties. At least 45 others were negotiated with tribes but were never ratified by the Senate.
The treaties that
were made often contain commitments that have either been fulfilled or subsequently superseded by Congressional legislation.
In addition, American Indians and Alaska Natives can access education, health,
welfare, and other social service programs available to all citizens, if they are eligible. Even if a tribe does not
have a treaty with the United States, or has treaties that were negotiated but not ratified, its members may still receive
services from the BIA or other federal programs, if eligible.
The specifics of particular treaties signed by government negotiators with
Indian tribes are contained in one volume (Vol. II) of the publication, Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties: 1778-1883,
compiled, annotated, and edited by Charles J. Kappler. Published by the United States Government Printing Office in
1904, it is now out of print, but can be found in most large law libraries and on the Internet.
The treaty volume has also been published privately under the title, “Indian Treaties: 1778-1883.”
Originals of all the treaties are maintained by the National Archives and
Records Administration of the General Services Administration.
II. The Nature of Federal-Tribal and State-Tribal
What is the relationship between the tribes and the United
The relationship between federally recognized tribes and the United States is one between sovereigns,
i.e., between a government and a government. This “government-to-government” principle, which is grounded in the
United States Constitution, has helped to shape the long history of relations between the federal government and these tribal
What is the relationship between the tribes and the individual
Because the Constitution vested the Legislative Branch with plenary power over Indian Affairs, states
have no authority over tribal governments unless expressly authorized by Congress. While federally recognized tribes generally
are not subordinate to states, they can have a government-to-government relationship with these other sovereigns, as well.
Furthermore, federally recognized tribes possess both the right and the authority
to regulate activities on their lands independently from state government control. They can enact and enforce stricter
or more lenient laws and regulations than those of the surrounding or neighboring state(s) wherein they are located. Yet,
tribes frequently collaborate and cooperate with states through compacts or other agreements on matters of mutual concern
such as environmental protection and law enforcement.
What is Public Law 280 and where does it apply?
1953, Congress enacted Public Law 83-280 (67 Stat. 588) to grant certain states criminal jurisdiction over American Indians
on reservations and to allow civil litigation that had come under tribal or federal court jurisdiction to be handled by state
courts. However, the law did not grant states regulatory power over tribes or lands held in trust by the United States;
federally guaranteed tribal hunting, trapping, and fishing rights; basic tribal governmental functions such as enrollment
and domestic relations; nor the power to impose state taxes. These states also may not regulate matters such as environmental
control, land use, gambling, and licenses on federal Indian reservations.
The states required by Public Law 280 to assume civil and criminal jurisdiction
over federal Indian lands were Alaska (except the Metlakatla Indian Community on the Annette Island Reserve, which maintains
criminal jurisdiction), California, Minnesota (except the Red Lake Reservation), Nebraska, Oregon (except the Warm Springs
Reservation), and Wisconsin. In addition, the federal government gave up all special criminal jurisdiction in these
states over Indian offenders and victims. The states that elected to assume full or partial jurisdiction were Arizona
(1967), Florida (1961), Idaho (1963, subject to tribal consent), Iowa (1967), Montana (1963), Nevada (1955), North Dakota
(1963, subject to tribal consent), South Dakota (1957-1961), Utah (1971), and Washington (1957-1963).
Subsequent acts of Congress, court decisions, and state actions to retrocede
jurisdiction back to the Federal Government have muted some of the effects of the 1953 law, and strengthened the tribes’
jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters on their reservations.
III. Tribal Government: Powers, Rights, and Authorities
What are inherent powers of tribal self-government?
possess all powers of self-government except those relinquished under treaty with the United States, those that Congress has
expressly extinguished, and those that federal courts have ruled are subject to existing federal law or are inconsistent with
overriding national policies. Tribes, therefore, possess the right to form their own governments; to make and enforce
laws, both civil and criminal; to tax; to establish and determine membership (i.e., tribal citizenship); to license and regulate
activities within their jurisdiction; to zone; and to exclude persons from tribal lands.
Limitations on inherent tribal powers of self-government are few, but do include
the same limitations applicable to states, e.g., neither tribes nor states have the power to make war, engage in foreign relations,
or print and issue currency.
How do tribal members govern themselves?
thousands of years, American Indians and Alaska Natives governed themselves through tribal laws, cultural traditions, religious
customs, and kinship systems, such as clans and societies. Today, most modern tribal governments are organized democratically,
that is, with an elected leadership.
Through their tribal governments, tribal members generally define conditions
of membership, regulate domestic relations of members, prescribe rules of inheritance for reservation property not in trust
status, levy taxes, regulate property under tribal jurisdiction, control the conduct of members by tribal ordinances, and
administer justice. They also continue to utilize their traditional systems of self-government whenever and wherever
How are tribal governments organized?
Most federally recognized tribes are organized under the Indian Reorganization
Act (IRA) of 1934 (25 U.S.C. 461 et seq.), including a number of Alaska Native villages, which adopted formal governing documents
under the provisions of a 1936 amendment to the IRA. The passage in 1971 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
(43 U.S.C. 1601), however, provided for the creation of regional and village corporations under state law to manage the money
and lands granted to Alaska Natives by the act. The Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936 provided for the organization
of Indian tribes within the State of Oklahoma.
Many tribes have constitutions, others operate under articles of association
or other bodies of law, and some have found a way to combine their traditional systems of government within a modern governmental
framework. Some do not operate under any of these acts, but are nevertheless organized under documents approved by the
Secretary of the Interior. Contemporary tribal governments are usually, but not always, modeled upon the federal system
of the three branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.
The chief executive of a tribe is usually called a chairman, chairwoman or
chairperson, but may also be called a principal chief, governor, president, mayor, spokesperson, or representative.
The chief executive presides over the tribe’s legislative body and executive branch. In modern tribal government,
the chief executive and members of the tribal council or business committee are almost always elected.
A tribe’s legislative body is usually called a tribal council, a village
council, or a tribal business committee. It is comprised of tribal members who are elected by eligible tribal voters.
In some tribes, the council is comprised of all eligible adult tribal members. Although some tribes require a referendum
by their members to enact laws, a tribal council generally acts as any other legislative body in creating laws, authorizing
expenditures, appropriating funds, and conducting oversight of activities carried out by the chief executive and tribal government
employees. An elected tribal council and chief executive, recognized as such by the Secretary of the Interior, have
authority to speak and act for the tribe as a whole, and to represent it in negotiations with federal, state, and local governments.
Furthermore, many tribes have established, or are building, their judicial
branch – the tribal court system – to interpret tribal laws and administer justice.
What is the jurisdiction of tribal courts?
Generally, tribal courts have civil jurisdiction over Indians
and non-Indians who either reside or do business on federal Indian reservations. They also have criminal
jurisdiction over violations of tribal laws committed by tribal members residing or doing business on the reservation.
Under 25 C.F.R. Part 115, tribal courts are responsible for appointing guardians,
determining competency, awarding child support from Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts, determining paternity, sanctioning
adoptions, marriages, and divorces, making presumptions of death, and adjudicating claims involving trust assets. There
are approximately 225 tribes that contract or compact with the BIA to perform the Secretary’s adjudicatory function
and 23 Courts of Indian Offenses (also known as CFR courts) which exercise federal authority. The Indian Tribal Justice
Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-176, 107 Stat. 2005) supports tribal courts in becoming, along with federal and state courts, well-established
dispensers of justice in Indian Country.
What is meant by tribal self-determination and self-governance?
Congress has recognized the right of tribes to have a greater say over the
development and implementation of federal programs and policies that directly impact on them and their tribal members.
It did so by enacting two major pieces of legislation that together embody the important concepts of tribal self-determination
and self-governance: The Indian Self-determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, as amended (25 U.S.C. 450 et
seq.) and the Tribal Self-Governance Act of 1994 (25 U.S.C. 458aa et seq.). Through these laws, Congress accorded tribal
governments the authority to administer themselves the programs and services usually administered by the BIA for their tribal
members. It also upheld the principle of tribal consultation, whereby the federal government consults with tribes on
federal actions, policies, rules or regulations that will directly affect them.
IV. Our Nation’s American Indian and Alaska
Who is an American Indian or Alaska Native?
a general rule, an American Indian or Alaska Native person is someone who has blood degree from and is recognized as such
by a federally recognized tribe or village (as an enrolled tribal member) and/or the United States. Of course, blood
quantum (the degree of American Indian or Alaska Native blood from a federally recognized tribe or village that a person possesses)
is not the only means by which a person is considered to be an American Indian or Alaska Native. Other factors, such
as a person’s knowledge of his or her tribe’s culture, history, language, religion, familial kinships, and how
strongly a person identifies himself or herself as American Indian or Alaska Native, are also important. In fact, there
is no single federal or tribal criterion or standard that establishes a person's identity as American Indian or Alaska Native.
There are major differences, however, when the term “American Indian”
is used in an ethnological sense versus its use in a political/legal sense. The rights, protections, and services provided
by the United States to individual American Indians and Alaska Natives flow not from a person's identity as such in an ethnological
sense, but because he or she is a member of a federally recognized tribe. That is, a tribe that has a government-to-government
relationship and a special trust relationship with the United States. These special trust and government-to-government
relationships entail certain legally enforceable obligations and responsibilities on the part of the United States to persons
who are enrolled members of such tribes. Eligibility requirements for federal services will differ from program to program.
Likewise, the eligibility criteria for enrollment (or membership) in a tribe will differ from tribe to tribe.
How large is the national American Indian and Alaska Native
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the estimated population of American Indians and
Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race, as of July 1, 2007, was 4.5 million, or 1.5 per cent of the total U.S.
population. In the BIA’s 2005 American Indian Population and Labor Force Report, the latest available, the total
number of enrolled members of the (then) 561 federally recognized tribes was shown to be less than half the Census number,
Why are American Indians and Alaska Natives also referred
to as Native Americans?
When referring to American Indian or Alaska Native persons, it is still appropriate
to use the terms “American Indian” and “Alaska Native.” These terms denote the cultural and historical
distinctions between persons belonging to the indigenous tribes of the continental United States (American Indians) and the
indigenous tribes and villages of Alaska (Alaska Natives, i.e., Eskimos, Aleuts, and Indians). They also refer specifically
to persons eligible for benefits and services funded or directly provided by the BIA.
The term “Native American” came into broad usage in the 1970's
as an alternative to “American Indian.” Since that time, however, it has been gradually expanded within
the public lexicon to include all Native peoples of the United States and its trust territories, i.e., American Indians,
Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Chamorros, and American Samoans, as well as persons from Canada First Nations and indigenous
communities in Mexico and Central and South America who are U.S. residents.
Are American Indians and Alaska Natives wards of the Federal
No. The Federal Government is a trustee of Indian property, not a guardian of all American
Indians and Alaska Natives. Although the Secretary of the Interior is authorized by law to protect, where necessary,
the interests of minors and adult persons deemed incompetent to handle their affairs, this protection does not confer a guardian-ward
Are American Indians and Alaska Natives citizens of the United
Yes. As early as 1817, U.S. citizenship had been conferred by special treaty upon specific
groups of Indian people. American citizenship was also conveyed by statutes, naturalization proceedings, and by service
in the Armed Forces with an honorable discharge in World War I. In 1924, Congress extended American citizenship to all
other American Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States. American Indians and Alaska Natives
are citizens of the United States and of the individual states, counties, cities, and towns where they reside. They
can also become citizens of their tribes or villages as enrolled tribal members.
Do American Indians and Alaska
Natives have the right to vote?
Yes. American Indians and Alaska Natives have the right to vote just
as all other U.S. citizens do. They can vote in presidential, congressional, state and local, and tribal elections, if eligible.
And, just as the federal government and state and local governments have the sovereign right to establish voter eligibility
criteria, so do tribal governments.
Do American Indians and Alaska
Natives have the right to hold public office?
Yes. American Indians and Alaska Natives have the same rights
as other citizens to hold public office. Over the years, American Indian and Alaska Native men and women have held elected
and appointed offices at all levels of federal, state, and local government. Charles Curtis, a member of the Kaw Tribe
of Kansas, served in both houses of Congress before holding the second highest elected office in the nation – that of
Vice President of the United States under President Herbert Hoover. American Indians and Alaska Natives also serve in
state legislatures, state judicial systems, county and city governments, and on local school boards.
Do American Indians and Alaska Natives have special rights
different from other citizens?
Any “special” rights held by federally recognized tribes and their
members are generally based on treaties or other agreements between the tribes and the United States. The heavy price
American Indians and Alaska Natives paid to retain certain rights of self-government was to relinquish much of their land
and resources to the United States. U.S. law protects the inherent rights they did not relinquish. Among those
may be hunting and fishing rights and access to sacred sites.
Do American Indians and Alaska Natives pay taxes?
Yes. They pay the same taxes as other citizens with the following exceptions:
- Federal income taxes are not levied on income from trust lands held for them
by the U.S.
- State income taxes are not paid on income earned on a federal Indian reservation.
- State sales taxes are not paid by Indians on transactions made on a federal
- Local property taxes are not paid on reservation or trust land.
Do laws that apply to non-Indians also apply to Indians?
As U.S. citizens, American Indians and Alaska Natives are generally subject to federal, state, and local laws. On federal
Indian reservations, however, only federal and tribal laws apply to members of the tribe, unless Congress provides otherwise.
In federal law, the Assimilative Crimes Act makes any violation of state criminal law a federal offense on reservations.
Most tribes now maintain tribal court systems and facilities to detain tribal members convicted of certain offenses within
the boundaries of the reservation.
Do all American Indians and Alaska Natives speak a single
No. American Indians and Alaska Natives come from a multitude of different cultures
with diverse languages, and for thousands of years used oral tradition to pass down familial and cultural information among
generations of tribal members. Some tribes, even if widely scattered, belong to the same linguistic families. Common
means of communicating between tribes allowed trade routes and political alliances to flourish. As contact between Indians
and non-Indians grew, so did the necessity of learning of new languages. Even into the 20th century, many American Indians
and Alaska Natives were bi- or multilingual from learning to speak their own language and English, French, Russian, or Spanish,
or even another tribal language.
It has been reported that at the end of the 15th century over 300 American
Indian and Alaska Native languages were spoken. Today, fewer than 200 tribal languages are still viable, with some having
been translated into written form. English, however, has become the predominant language in the home, school, and workplace.
Those tribes who can still do so are working to preserve their languages and create new speakers from among their tribal populations.
all American Indians and Alaska Natives live on reservations?
No. American Indians and Alaska Natives
live and work anywhere in the United States (and the world) just as other citizens do. Many leave their reservations,
communities or villages for the same reasons as do other Americans who move to urban centers: to seek education and
employment. Over one-half of the total U.S. American Indian and Alaska Native population now live away from their tribal
lands. However, most return home to visit relatives; attend family gatherings and celebrations; participate in religious,
cultural, or community activities; work for their tribal governments; operate businesses; vote in tribal elections or run
for tribal office; retire; or to be buried.
Do American Indians and Alaska Natives serve in the Armed
Yes. American Indians and Alaska Natives have a long and distinguished history of serving in
our nation’s Armed Forces.
During the Civil War, American Indians served on both sides of the conflict.
Among the most well-known are Brigadier General Ely S. Parker (Seneca), an aide to Union General Ulysses S. Grant who recorded
the terms of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia that ended the war,
and Brigadier General Stand Watie (Cherokee), the last of the Confederate generals to cease fighting after the surrender was
concluded. American Indians also fought with Theodore Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War.
During World War I more than 8,000 American Indian soldiers, of whom 6,000
were volunteers, served. Their patriotism moved Congress to pass the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. In World
War II, 25,000 American Indian and Alaska Native men and women fought on all fronts in Europe and the South Pacific earning,
collectively, at least 71 Air Medals, 51 Silver Stars, 47 Bronze Stars, 34 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and two Congressional
Medals of Honor. Alaska Natives also served in the Alaska Territorial Guard.
Starting in World War I and again in World War II, the U.S. military employed
a number of American Indian servicemen to use their tribal languages as a military code that could not be broken by the enemy.
These “code talkers” came from many different tribes, including Chippewa, Choctaw, Creek, Crow, Comanche, Hopi,
Navajo, Seminole, and Sioux. During World War II, the Navajos constituted the largest component within that elite group.
In the Korean Conflict, one Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to an
American Indian serviceman. In the Vietnam War, 41,500 Indian service personnel served. In 1990, prior to Operation
Desert Storm, some 24,000 Indian men and women were in the military. Approximately 3,000 served in the Persian Gulf
with three among those killed in action. American Indian service personnel have also served in Afghanistan (Operation
Enduring Freedom) and in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom).
While American Indians and Alaska Natives have the same obligations for military
service as other U.S. citizens, many tribes have a strong military tradition within their cultures, and veterans are considered
to be among their most honored members.
V. The Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs,
the BIA, and the BIE
Who is the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs?
Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs (AS-IA) has responsibility for fulfilling the Interior Department’s trust responsibilities
to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and individuals, as well as promoting the self-determination and economic well-being
of the tribes and their members. The Assistant Secretary together with the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary –
Indian Affairs oversee the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA); the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE); the Office of External Affairs;
the Office of Federal Acknowledgement; the Office of Regulatory Management, as well as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Policy and Economic Development; and the Deputy Assistant Secretary – Management.
There have been 10 assistant secretaries since the Office of the Assistant
Secretary – Indian Affairs was established by DOI Secretarial order in 1977. The most recent was Carl J. Artman,
an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, who was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 5, 2007, and served
until May 23, 2008. The assistant secretaries for Indian Affairs are:
Forrest J. Gerard, Blackfeet (1977-1980)
Thomas W. Fredericks,
Kenneth L. Smith, Wasco (1981-1984)
Ross O. Swimmer, Cherokee
Dr. Eddie F. Brown, Tohono O’odham-Yaqui (1989-1993)
Ada E. Deer, Menominee (1993-1997)
Gover, Pawnee (1997-2001)
Neal McCaleb, Chickasaw (2001-2002)
David W. Anderson, Lac Courte Oreilles
Carl J. Artman, Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin (2007-2008)
What is the Bureau of Indian Affairs?
of Indian Affairs (BIA) is the primary federal agency charged with carrying out the United States’ trust responsibility
to American Indian and Alaska Native people, maintaining the federal government-to-government relationship with the federally
recognized Indian tribes, and promoting and supporting tribal self-determination. The bureau implements federal laws
and policies and administers programs established for American Indians and Alaska Natives under the trust responsibility and
the government-to-government relationship.
What is the BIA’s history?
Congress governed Indian affairs during the first years of the United States – in 1775 it established a Committee on
Indian Affairs headed by Benjamin Franklin. At the end of the eighteenth century, Congress transferred the responsibility
for managing trade relations with the tribes to the Secretary of War by its act of August 20, 1789 (1 Stat. 54). An
Office of Indian Trade was established in the War Department by an act of April 21, 1806 (2 Stat. 402) specifically to handle
this responsibility below the secretarial level. It was later abolished by an act of May 6, 1822 (3 Stat. 679) which
handed responsibility for all Indian matters back to the Secretary of War.
Secretary of War John C. Calhoun administratively established the BIA within
the his department on March 11, 1824. Congress later legislatively established the bureau and the Commissioner of Indian
Affairs post via the act of July 9, 1832 (4 Stat. 564). In 1849, the BIA was transferred to the newly created Interior
Department. In the years that followed, the Bureau was known variously as the Indian office, the Indian bureau, the
Indian department, and the Indian service. The name “Bureau of Indian Affairs” was formally adopted by the
Interior Department on September 17, 1947.
Since 1824 there have been 45 Commissioners of Indian Affairs of which six
have been American Indian or Alaska Native: Ely S. Parker, Seneca (1869-1871); Robert L. Bennett, Oneida
(1966-1969); Louis R. Bruce, Mohawk-Oglala Sioux (1969-1973); Morris Thompson, Athabascan (1973-1976); Benjamin
Reifel, Sioux (1976-1977); and William E. Hallett, Red Lake Chippewa (1979-1981).
For almost 200 years—beginning with treaty agreements negotiated by
the United States and tribes in the late 18th and 19th centuries, through the General Allotment Act of 1887, which opened
tribal lands west of the Mississippi to non-Indian settlers, the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 when American Indians and
Alaska Natives were granted U.S. citizenship and the right to vote, the New Deal and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934,
which established modern tribal governments, the World War II period of relocation and the post-War termination era of the
1950s, the activism of the 1960s and 1970s that saw the takeover of the BIA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to the
passage of landmark legislation such as the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 and the Tribal
Self-Governance Act of 1994, which have fundamentally changed how the BIA and the tribes conduct business with each other—the
BIA has embodied the trust and government-to-government relationships between the U.S. and the 562 tribal nations that bear
the designation “federally recognized.”
What is the BIA’s relationship today with American Indians and
The Bureau of Indian
Affairs is a rarity among federal agencies. With roots reaching back to the the earliest days of the republic, the BIA
is almost as old as the United States itself. For most of its existence, the BIA has mirrored the public’s ambivalence
towards the nation’s indigenous people. But, as federal policy has evolved from seeking the subjugation of American
Indians and Alaska Natives into one that respects tribal self-determination, so, too, has the BIA’s mission evolved
into one that is based on service to and partnership with the tribes.
The BIA Mission Statement, which is based on principles embodied in federal
treaties, laws and policies, and in judicial decisions, clearly describes the bureau’s relationship today with the American
Indian and Alaska Native people:
“The BIA’s mission is to enhance the quality of life, to promote
economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian
tribes and Alaska Natives. We will accomplish this through the delivery of quality services, maintaining government-to-government
relationships within the spirit of self-determination.”
How does the BIA carry out its mission?
in keeping with their authorities and responsibilities under the Snyder Act of 1921 and other federal laws, regulations, and
treaties, BIA employees across the country work with tribal governments in the administration of employment and job training
assistance; law enforcement and justice; agricultural and economic development; tribal governance; and natural resources management
programs to enhance the quality of life in tribal communities. The following are just some examples of what we do:
- We provide funding to and administer government program services for the
562 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes located in 34 states, and through them to their approximately
1.9 million members.
- We work with tribes in the administration of approximately 56 million acres
of trust land, and the natural resources therein, for the use and benefit of the tribes and individual Indians.
- We maintain five law enforcement district offices nationwide to provide
police protection and investigative services for both Indian and non-Indians living in Indian Country. We also directly
operate or fund tribally operated law enforcement programs, courts, and detention facilities in tribal communities across
- We build and maintain thousands of miles of roads, as well as bridges,
dams, and other physical infrastructure throughout Indian Country which benefit both Indians and non-Indians alike.
- We work with other federal, tribal, state, and local emergency personnel
in responses to wildland fires and other natural disasters.
- We administer the Guaranteed Indian Loan Program to stimulate, increase,
and sustain Indian entrepreneurship and business development in tribal communities.
- We assist tribes in administering federal economic development and
employment and training programs.
- We administer BIA programs for tribes unable or who choose not to operate
- We directly serve thousands of individual Indian trust beneficiaries by providing
assistance in the probating of Indian trust estates, administering leases approved by the Secretary of the Interior, and performing
other fiduciary duties.
Until 1955, the BIA’s responsibilities included providing health care
services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. That year, the function was legislatively transferred as the Indian
Health Service to the U.S. Public Health Service within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, known now as the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), where it has remained to this day.
What is the Bureau of Indian Education?
The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), formerly know as the Office of Indian Education
Programs (OIEP), is under the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs. It is responsible for the line direction and
management of all BIE education functions, including the formation of policies and procedures, the supervision of all program
activities, and the approval of the expenditure of funds appropriated for BIE education functions.
The BIE mission, which can be found in 25 C.F.R. Part 32.3, states that the
BIE is to provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in accordance with the tribe’s needs
for cultural and economic well-being in keeping with the wide diversity of Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages as distinct
cultural and governmental entities. The BIE also shall manifest consideration of the whole person by taking into account
the spiritual, mental, physical, and cultural aspects of the person within his or her family and tribal or village context.
The BIE school system has 184 elementary and secondary schools and dormitories
located on 63 reservations in 23 states, including seven off-reservation boarding schools and 122 schools directly controlled
by tribes and tribal school boards under contracts or grants with the BIE. The bureau also funds 66 residential programs
for students at 52 boarding schools and at 14 dormitories housing those attending nearby tribal or public schools. The
school system employs approximately 5,000 teachers, administrators, and support personnel, while an estimated 6,600 work in
tribal school systems. In School Year 2006-07, the schools served almost 48,000 students.
In the area of postsecondary education, the BIE provides support to 24 tribal
colleges and universities across the U.S. serving over 25,000 students, and directly operates two institutions of higher learning:
the Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in
Albuquerque, New Mexico. It also operates higher education scholarship programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
There have been three major legislative actions that restructured the Bureau
of Indian Affairs with regard to education since the Snyder Act of 1921. The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 introduced
the teaching of Indian history and culture in BIA schools, which contrasted with the federal policy at the time of acculturating
and assimilating Indian people through the BIA boarding school system. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance
Act of 1975 (P.L. 90-638) gave authority to the tribes to contract with the BIA for the operation of local schools and to
determine education programs suitable for their children. The Education Amendments Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-561) and further
technical amendments (P.L. 98-511, 99-89, and 100-297) provided funds directly to tribal schools, empowered Indian school
boards, permitted local hiring of teachers and staff, and established a direct line of authority between the OIEP Director
and the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs.
In 2001, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act (P.L. 107-110) to bring
additional requirements of accountability and academic achievement for supplemental program funds provided by the U.S. Department
of Education through the OIEP to the schools. In 2006, the OIEP was formally elevated to bureau status by secretarial
action and renamed the Bureau of Indian Education.
Source: Indian Affairs: The Official U.S. Government Handbook. Washington,
Government Printing Office.
Viewing: 500 Nations
(DVDs) (372 minutes). Description:
500 Nations is an eight-part documentary (more than 6 hours and that's not including its interactive
CD-ROM filled with extra features) that explores the history of the indigenous peoples of North and Central America,
from pre-Colombian times through the period of European contact and colonization, to the end of the 19th century and the subjugation
of the Plains Indians of North America. 500 Nations utilizes historical texts,
eyewitness accounts, pictorial sources and computer graphic reconstructions to explore the magnificent civilizations which
flourished prior to contact with Western civilization, and to tell the dramatic and tragic story of the Native American nations'
desperate attempts to retain their way of life against overwhelming odds. Continued below...
word "Indian," and most will conjure up images inspired by myths and movies: teepees, headdresses, and war paint; Sitting
Bull, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and their battles (like Little Big Horn) with the U.S. Cavalry. Those stories of the so-called
"horse nations" of the Great
Plains are all here, but so is a great deal more. Using impressive computer imaging, photos, location film footage
and breathtaking cinematography, interviews with present-day Indians, books and manuscripts, museum artifacts, and more, Leustig
and his crew go back more than a millennium to present an fascinating account of Indians, including those (like the Maya and
Aztecs in Mexico and the Anasazi in the Southwest) who were here long before white men ever reached these shores.
the arrival of Europeans like Columbus, Cortez, and DeSoto that marked the beginning of the end for the Indians. Considering
the participation of host Kevin Costner, whose film Dances with Wolves was highly sympathetic to the Indians, it's no bulletin
that 500 Nations also takes a compassionate view of the multitude of calamities--from alcohol and disease to the corruption
of their culture and the depletion of their vast natural resources--visited on them by the white man in his quest for land
and money, eventually leading to such horrific events as the Trail of Tears "forced march," the massacre at Wounded Knee,
and other consequences of the effort to "relocate" Indians to the reservations where many of them still live. Along the way,
we learn about the Indians' participation in such events as the American Revolution and the War of 1812, as well as popular
legends like the first Thanksgiving (it really happened) and the rescue of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas (it probably didn't).
Recommended Viewing: We Shall Remain (PBS) (DVDs) (420 minutes). Midwest Book Review: We Shall Remain is a three-DVD thinpack set
collecting five documentaries from the acclaimed PBS history series "American Experience", about Native American leaders including
Massasoit, Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa, Major Ridge, Geronimo, and Fools Crow, all who did everything they could to resist being
forcibly removed from their land and preserve their culture. Continued below…
ranged from military action to diplomacy, spirituality, or even legal and political means. The stories of these individual
leaders span four hundred years; collectively, they give a portrait of an oft-overlooked yet crucial side of American history,
and carry the highest recommendation for public library as well as home DVD collections. Special features include behind-the-scenes
footage, a thirty-minute preview film, materials for educators and librarians, four ReelNative films of Native Americans sharing
their personal stories, and three Native Now films about modern-day issues facing Native Americans. 7 hours. "Viewers will
be amazed." "If you're keeping score, this program ranks among the best TV documentaries ever made." and "Reminds us that
true glory lies in the honest histories of people, not the manipulated histories of governments. This is the stuff they kept
from us." --Clif Garboden, The Boston Phoenix.
Reading: Atlas of the North
American Indian. Description: This unique resource covers the entire history, culture, tribal
locations, languages, and lifeways of Native American groups across the United States,
Canada, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Thoroughly updated, Atlas of the
North American Indian combines clear and informative text with newly drawn maps to provide the most up-to-date political and
cultural developments in Indian affairs, as well as the latest archaeological research findings on prehistoric peoples. The
new edition features several revised and updated sections, such as "Self-Determination," "The Federal and Indian Trust Relationship
and the Reservation System," "Urban Indians," "Indian Social Conditions," and "Indian Cultural Renewal." Continued below...
information includes: a revised section on Canada, including Nunavut, the first new Canadian territory created since 1949,
with a population that is 85% Inuit; the latest statistics and new federal laws on tribal enterprises, including a new section
on "Indian Gaming"; and current information on preferred names now in use by certain tribes and groups, such as the use of
"Inuit" rather than "Eskimo."
Reading: Encyclopedia of American Indian
Contributions to the World: 15,000 Years of Inventions and Innovations (Facts on File Library of American History)
(Hardcover). Editorial Review from Booklist: More than 450 inventions and innovations that can be traced to
indigenous peoples of North, Middle, and South America are described in this wonderful encyclopedia.
Criteria for selection are that the item or concept must have originated in the Americas,
it must have been used by the indigenous people, and it must have been adopted in some way by other cultures. Continued below...
Some of the innovations may have been independently developed in other parts of the world (geometry,
for example, was developed in ancient China, Greece,
and the Middle East as well as in the Americas)
but still fit all three criteria. The period of time covered is 25,000 B.C. to the twentieth century. Among the entries are
Adobe, Agriculture, Appaloosa horse breed, Chocolate, Cigars, Diabetes medication, Freeze-drying, Hydraulics, Trousers, Urban
planning, and Zoned biodiversity. Readers will find much of the content revealing. The authors note that the Moche "invented
the electrochemical production of electricity" although they used it only for electroplating, a process they developed "more
than a thousand years" before the Europeans, who generally get the credit. The Aztec medical system was far more comprehensive
than anything available in Europe at the time of contact.
The Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World is an "Eyeopener to the innumerable contributions of the American Indian to our
nation and to world civilizations...."
awards it has won and some of the print reviews this book has received are listed below.
Winner 11th Annual
Colorado Book Award, Collections and Anthologies
Winner Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Writer of
the Year, Creative Reference Work, 2002
Selected by Booklist
as Editors Choice Reference Source, 2002
"This is a well-written
book with fascinating information and wonderful pictures. It should be in every public, school, and academic library for its
depth of research and amazing wealth of knowledge. We've starred this title because it is eye-opening and thought-provoking,
and there is nothing else quite like it." Booklist Starred Review
informative, and inspiring book." Native Peoples Magazine
"I would strongly
urge anyone with a kernel of intellectual curiosity: teacher, administrator, researcher, lawyer, politician, writer, to buy
this book. I guarantee it will enlighten, stimulate and entertain...Native students and indigenous instructors must obtain
their own copies of the Encyclopedia. Whether Cree, Mayan or Penobscot they will find a deep source of pride on each and every
page. I can well imagine the excitement of Native teachers when they obtain the book followed by an eagerness to share its
contents with everyone within reach."
"I hope the Encyclopedia
will serve as the basis for an entirely new approach to Native history, one in which the scholar is liberated from the anti-Indian
texts of the recent past. Ideally, a copy of the Encyclopedia should be in every class in every school across the hemisphere." Akwesasne
Notes-Indian Time–Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, co-founder of the Native American Journalists Association
and the Akwesasne Communications Society
for academic libraries keeping collections about American Indians." Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
finally get their due in this award-winning book." American Indian Report
"A treasure trove
of information about the large range of technologies and productions of Indian peoples. This is indeed the most comprehensive
compilation of American Indian inventions and contributions to date. It is most worthwhile and should be on the bookshelves
of every library and home in America."
Indian Country Today
"This large, well-illustrated
volume is an excellent reference. One of the important strengths of the encyclopedia is that the information provided is balanced
and rooted in facts, not speculation. Highly recommended." Multicultural Review
"Far from the stereotypical
idea that Native Americans were uncultured and simple, possessing only uncomplicated inventions such as bows and arrows or
canoes, these varied cultures donated a rich assortment of ideas and items to the world. This book can be recommended to libraries
that support an interdisciplinary approach to student learning, such as units that integrate biology and culture studies projects."
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates
unique A to Z reference to the vast offerings made by the American Indians throughout history." Winds of Change (American
Indian Science and Engineering Society)
"We bought one for each center. It is a GREAT resource." Ann Rutherford, Director
Learning Resources Center,
Oglala Lakota College
"As I travel to conferences and host presentations, I take your book as a reference and to show individuals.
It allows science, engineering and math students to gain insight into the traditional knowledge held about these and related
subjects. I believe it empowers them to know this knowledge is already within. To balance contemporary knowledge within that
context creates a student who can experience a topic from a number of perspectives." Jacqueline Bolman, Director, South Dakota
School of Mines & Technology Scientific Knowledge for Indian Learning and Leadership (SKILL)/NASA Honors Program
"…the three page introduction alone makes this book a valuable resource as it sets forth the circumstances
which led the invaders to change their initial writings of wonder at the advanced native societies…I hope a way can
be found to put this book in the hands of our youth and all who touch them." Carter Camp, American Indian rights activist,
Ponca tribal leader and founder of Kansas/Oklahoma AIM
Recommended Viewing: The Great Indian
Wars: 1540-1890 (2009) (230 minutes). Description:
The year 1540 was a crucial turning point in American history. The Great Indian Wars were incited by Francisco
Vazquez de Coronado when his expedition to the Great Plains launched the inevitable 350 year
struggle between the white man and the American Indians. This series defines the struggles of practically every major American Indian tribe. It is also
a fascinating study of the American Indians' beginnings on the North American Continent, while reflecting the factional
splits as well as alliances. Continued below...
Indian Wars is more than a documentary about the
battles and conflicts, wars and warfare, fighting tactics and strategies, and weapons of the American Indians. You will journey
with the Indians and witness how they adapted from the bow to the rifle, and view the European introduction of the horse to
the Americas and how the Indians adapted and perfected it for both hunting and
warfare. This fascinating documentary also reflects the migration patterns--including numerous maps--and the evolution
of every major tribe, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and challenges of each tribe. Spanning nearly 4 hours and filled
with spectacular paintings and photographs, this documentary is action-packed from start to finish.
Reading: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.
Description: 1491 is not so much the story of a year, as of what that year stands for: the long-debated
(and often-dismissed) question of what human civilization in the Americas was like before the
Europeans crashed the party. The history books most Americans were (and still are) raised on describe the continents before
as a vast, underused territory, sparsely populated by primitives whose cultures would inevitably bow before the advanced technologies
of the Europeans. For decades, though, among the archaeologists, anthropologists, paleolinguists, and others whose discoveries
Charles C. Mann brings together in 1491, different stories have been emerging. Among the revelations: the first Americans
may not have come over the Bering land bridge around 12,000 B.C. but by boat along the Pacific coast 10 or even 20 thousand
years earlier; the Americas were a far more urban, more populated, and more technologically advanced region than generally
assumed; and the Indians, rather than living in static harmony with nature, radically engineered the landscape across the
continents, to the point that even "timeless" natural features like the Amazon rainforest can be seen as products of human
intervention. Continued below...
Mann is well
aware that much of the history he relates is necessarily speculative, the product of pot-shard interpretation and precise
scientific measurements that often end up being radically revised in later decades. But the most compelling of his eye-opening
revisionist stories are among the best-founded: the stories of early American-European contact. To many of those who were
there, the earliest encounters felt more like a meeting of equals than one of natural domination. And those who came later
and found an emptied landscape that seemed ripe for the taking, Mann argues convincingly, encountered not the natural and
unchanging state of the native American, but the evidence of a sudden calamity: the ravages of what was likely the greatest
epidemic in human history, the smallpox and other diseases introduced inadvertently by Europeans to a population without immunity,
which swept through the Americas faster than the explorers who brought it, and left behind for their discovery a land that
held only a shadow of the thriving cultures that it had sustained for centuries before. Includes outstanding photos and maps.
Reading: Cherokee Proud, Second
Edition, by Tony Mack McClure. Description: Absolutely the "Bible" of Cherokee Genealogy. New, 336 pages, 2nd Edition. If
the information in this remarkable new book doesn't lead a person to proof of their Cherokee roots, nothing can! “It
is an A-to-Z on organizing and locating the requirements / qualifications for membership.” Continued below...
Are you Cherokee? Are you the individual that has always been told that you
are a Cherokee, but have no facts or records to prove it? To claim Cherokee membership means that you must prove it –
you must have the facts, so toss the doubt away, get the facts, and claim what is rightfully your heritage by blood quantum.
Now, are you ready to prove that you are a Cherokee? It’s not difficult if you take the time to locate the facts. Included
are proven resources for tracing your family genealogy, the family tree, roots, bloodline, and for researching your ancestors
to prove that you meet the blood requirements (qualifications) for Cherokee membership and tribal enrollment. Those that qualify
as “American Indians are American Indians” and are entitled to the rights and benefits of the tribe! Also includes
a proven “how to dos” written by the foremost expert in Cherokee history, genealogy and heritage. Cherokee
membership is not like joining a gym or paying dues, it’s your blood, so claim it. Are you remotely interested
in knowing that you are a “Cherokee Indian” or are you the individual that enjoys genealogy? Do you want to locate
and preserve your Native American ancestry? Finding information about ancestors for genealogy and heritage is also a lot of
fun. Moreover, you are preserving your own family history and heritage with your relatives and loved ones for generations
and generations… Take a look at exactly what is required to locate and organize and present your information to
prove that you meet the qualifications as a member of the Cherokee tribe. Cherokee Proud, by Tony McClure, is referred to as the "Bible for Cherokee
Genealogy." Cherokee Proud has also been rated a SOLID FIVE STARS by
every person that has read and rated it. To see if you meet the 'Cherokee qualification and requirement for membership',
then look no further -- purchase Cherokee Proud. Read the reviews and
see what people and organizations are saying about it.
is the very best book I have ever seen on tracing Cherokee genealogy." -- RICHARD PANGBURN, acclaimed author of Indian Blood,
Vol. I & II found in most libraries
loosens his journalistic standards for portions of this book which reach him too emotionally. Understood. Fascinating and
Among the people of this country are individuals in whose blood runs the proud heritage of a noble and resilient people whose
ways and talents rank with the finest civilizations the world has known. They are the " Tsalagi ". . . the Cherokee. This
book will help you learn if you are one of them. -- BOOK READER
of Cherokee Proud are exceptional - valuable information that can be used by so many readers and researchers who have Native
American (Cherokee) ancestry." -- DON SHADBURN, Famous Georgia historian and noted author of Unhallowed Intrusion and Cherokee
Planters of Georgia
guide is the best yet!" -- LAWTON CONSTITUTION
About the Author: Well known and acclaimed Cherokee author Dr. Tony Mack McClure,
a native of Tennessee, is a certified member of the Native American Journalists Association, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers
and Storytellers, and Committeeman for the Tennessee Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association. His work has appeared
in numerous magazines, over 250 newspapers, on all major television networks and many cable systems.