What does the term “federally recognized” mean?
Only tribes who maintain a legal relationship to the U.S. government through binding treaties, acts of Congress, executive orders, etc., are officially “recognized” by the federal government. Once “recognized” a tribe has a legal relationship with the United States. There are currently more than 550 federally recognized tribes in the United States, including some 200-village groups in Alaska. However, there are still hundreds of tribes undergoing the lengthy and tedious process of applying for federal recognition.