Indian reservation

An Indian reservation is an area of land tenure governed by a federally recognized tribal nation under the , rather than by the of the in which it is located.

The 326 Indian reservations in the are associated with specific nations, often on a one-to-one basis.

Some of the country’s 574 federally recognized tribes govern more than one reservation, while some share reservations, and others have no reservation at all.

In addition, because of past land allotments, leading to sales to non–Native Americans, some reservations are severely fragmented, with each piece of tribal, individual, and privately held land being a separate enclave.

This jumble of private and public real estate creates significant administrative, political and legal difficulties.

The collective geographical area of all reservations is 56,200,000 acres (22,700,000 ha; 87,800 sq mi; 227,000 km2), approximately the size of the of Idaho.

While most reservations are small compared to U.S. states, there are twelve Indian reservations larger than the of Rhode Island.

The largest reservation, the Navajo Nation Reservation, is similar in size to Virginia.

Reservations are unevenly distributed throughout the country; the majority are of the Mississippi and occupy lands that were first reserved by treaty or “granted” from the public domain.

Because recognized nations possess limited tribal sovereignty, laws on tribal lands vary from those of the surrounding area.

For example, these laws can permit legal casinos on reservations located in states which do not allow gambling, attracting tourism.

The tribal council, not the local or the or federal , generally has jurisdiction over the reservation.

Different reservations have different systems of , which may or may not replicate the forms of found outside the reservation.

Most reservations were established by the federal ; a limited number, mainly in the , owe their origin to recognition.

The term “reservation” is a legal designation. It comes from the conception of the nations as independent sovereigns at the time the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

Thus, early peace treaties (often signed under conditions of duress or fraud), in which nations surrendered large portions of their land to the , designated parcels which the nations, as sovereigns, “reserved” to themselves, and those parcels came to be called “reservations”.

The term remained in use after the federal began to forcibly relocate nations to parcels of land to which they had no historical connection.

Today a majority of Indians and Alaska Natives live somewhere other than the reservations, often in the larger western cities such as Phoenix and .

In 2012, there were over 2.5 million Native Americans, with 1 million living on reservations.