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FAQ

     1. American Indian vs. Native American: Which is the proper term?

The term, ‘American Indian’, was accepted by most as the original reference to the Indigenous peoples of the United States. Initially, it denoted the native groups served by the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs in recognition of treaties between the various tribes and the U.S. Government. ‘Native American,’ came into usage by various college campuses throughout the country during the tumultuous social movements of 1970s.* Technically speaking, anyone born within the boundaries of the continental Unites States is a ‘Native American.’ Therefore, the preferred term is American Indian.

2. What is a reservation?

A reservation is a territory reserved by the U.S. Government as a permanent tribal homeland. The land is held in trust by the U.S. Government.

3a. How do I become a member and receive services from a tribe?

In order to receive any services from a tribal government, a person must be a member of the tribe. There are currently 564 federally recognized American Indian tribes in the United States. Each tribe establishes its own membership laws and criteria governing membership. Most Indian tribes determine membership based upon blood quantum i.e. ¼ Indian blood. Some tribes determine membership based upon historical township listings and other records. An example: The Ute Indian Tribe of Utah has one of the highest blood quantum requirements: 5/8 Ute Indian blood.

3b. How to determine the eligibility for tribal membership?

To determine if you are eligible for tribal membership, genealogy, ancestry, etc.

You will have to conduct genealogical research at your own expense or contact some of the genealogical services in our area.

4. Why do Indians receive services from the U.S. government? What are they?

American Indians receive services from the U.S. Government as a result of war and ensuing treaties that were entered into between the tribes and the U.S. Government. These treaties represented an accommodation to establish peace as Indians gave up millions of acres of land in exchange for promised services from the government, such as food, housing, health, and education. The federal government continues to provide housing and health services to Indian people. Although the federal government does operate some schools for Indian children in other parts of the nation, most Utah Indian school age students attend public schools.

The U.S. Government has a fiduciary responsibility to American Indians. This means the federal government is bound by treaty to supervise revenues generated from natural resources and assets on reservation lands.

5a. Do Indians receive free money from the U.S. government?

No, the U.S. Government does not pay Indians to be Indians or grant them automatic welfare.

What are per capita payments and dividends? Why do some Indians receive U.S. Government checks?

  • A small number of American Indians who receive checks do so because they are beneficiaries of lands that were passed down to them as a result of the 1887 Dawes Severalty and Allotment Act.
  • Those who own allotment lands receive payments for either leasing their lands to Non-Indian farmers or they receive mineral royalties from oil/gas companies extracting such minerals from their leased lands.
  • Not everyone, in fact, less than an est. 5% receive such royalties.
  • Whenever a tribe is able to generate revenues, it is paid out to its members via per capita payments or, in the case of a profit, dividends.

5b. What government services do the tribes provide their members?

In the past, most Indian tribes received services from the U.S. Government primarily through the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Department of Interior. Presently, most Indian tribes, exercise self-determination and contract these programs from the government via Public Law 93-638, Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, as amended; and administer these services to their members directly. Some of these services include: health, education, and tribal governance. The services a tribe provides its members varies according to the size of the tribe, quality of its government, its assets, its natural resources, and revenues. Due to recent interpretations of treaty agreements, federally recognized Indian tribes are now served by all departments and branches of the federal government.

5c. Where do Indian children attend schools?

Most Utah Indian school age students attend public schools.

5d. What is sovereignty? And why do the tribes wish to retain it?

American Indians enjoyed sovereignty prior to the arrival of Europeans to this continent. The sovereign or government to government relationship with the U.S. Government was reaffirmed in the treaties, Commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court rulings, and U.S. Congressional Legislation.

5e. Do Indians consider themselves ethnic minorities?

No, American Indians enjoy and maintain a political rather than racial relationship with the U.S. Government. Nor do they consider themselves immigrants. They consider themselves the indigenous peoples of this continent.

6. Taxes?

Do Indians do pay Federal income taxes?
Contrary to popular belief, American Indians have paid federal income taxes since becoming citizens in 1924.

Do Indians pay State taxes? 
Most American Indians do pay State taxes. Those who do not must satisfy two requirements: they must live and work on the reservation. In this case, they do not pay state income or property taxes, including sales taxes. Sales taxes must be collected for non-Indians on the reservation and remitted to the state of Utah.

7. If I want to learn more about Indian education, where I should start?

Visit the Native American & Other Scholarships and Scholarship Resource Center on the UDIA web site under Scholarships link.

We keep this reference at WE SHALL REMAIN: Utah Indian Curriculum Project. - A Native History of Utah & America.