January 7, 2007

Do Indians still live on reservations in America today?



Please, I have a question. I’m living in Spain, and my english isn’t good. Today do there exist some reserve with native indians in America?

–Submitted by Eva X.J. from Spain


There are over 600 Indian tribes still living in the US and several hundred more in Canada. Some tribes have less than 10 members such as some of the California tribes which are nearly extinct, and some tribes have thousands of members.

The largest tribe is the Navajo with nearly half a million enrolled members. You can find population statistics as of the year 2000 in a PDF file here.

In Canada tribal lands are called a Reserve and in the United States we call them Reservations. Most tribes have one or more reservations or reserves, and some tribes share a reservation, such as the Arapaho and Shoshone tribes both share the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, USA. Some tribes don’t have a reservation because they no longer have any land left, and some tribes have both a reservation and a reserve when the tribe originally lived in the area where the border between the US and Canada was drawn. Some reservations are as small as a city lot, others have 3,000,000+ acres of land, and there are reservations and reserves with sizes everywhere in between. The vast majority of American Indians in the US live in the Western states and Alaska.

Tourists can freely visit most reservation towns in America without any special arrangements. But few Indians live or dress as they did in the 1800s, just as white people don’t live like their ancestors did. Most American Indians today live in contemporary houses and dress like everyone else except on special occasions like sacred ceremonies or social events like pow wows, when they wear traditional outfits commonly referred to as regalia. Some Indians do still live in traditional style houses like Navajo hogans and Pueblo communal pueblos, but very few still live in tipis on a full time basis. About half of the Indian people live off reservations in towns and cities across America and have jobs and lifestyles just like anyone else.

Should you have the opportunity to visit America, I would suggest going to a pow wow if you would like to observe some traditional native american clothing, culture, and food. One of the best examples is Crow Fair in Montana the third weekend of August, where there will be more than 1,000 tipis in the encampment, a traditional parade through the camps every morning, an all Indian rodeo, traditional gambling games, give-away ceremonies, and many other events.

Another great Pow Wow is the Gathering of the Nations in Alburquerque, New Mexico the last weekend of April. During the summer months from June to September, you can find a pow wow somewhere almost every weekend and most are open to the Public. Most pow wows are held on the same weekend of the same month each year, but it is always best to call first before traveling long distances to attend.

Cameras are generally welcome most places except the Pueblos, but please remember that it is considered very rude to take pictures or touch regalia without asking first, and some ceremonies cannot be filmed.


Crow Fair at Crow Agency, MT

Native American Events Calendar

Hiking the Canyon of Wonder and Superstition in Palm Springs

Phoenix is 1st in share of Indians among top 10 cities in the nation

Population of Indians on the rise, Utah’s percentage exceeds U.S. average

Indigenous Languages Spoken in the United States by number of speakers
Also see the US Tribes and First Nations links in the menu on the left for overviews of many reservations and reserves for various tribes.


Crow Fair and Rodeo

Gathering of Nations Pow Wow

Aboriginal Canada Portal-Large resource site for information about First Nations people of Canada

The Spike-U.S. Indigenous News collected daily by Jimmy Boy Dial. Site contains his famous Pow Wow schedule for the East Coast.

Native News Online– Extensive covergage of Indian news across North America. Searchable site with a pile of information. Plan to spend some time here.

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