Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Find a Copy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Native American Policy?

You can find a copy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Native American Policy HERE.

What Does it Mean When an Indian Tribe is Federally Recognized?

The term "federally recognized Tribe" means an Indian or Alaska Native Tribe, band, nation, pueblo, village or community that the Secretary of the Interior acknowledges as an Indian Tribe pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian List Act of 1994 (25 U.S.C. 479a).

A recent Federal Register (FR) notice published the current list of 567 Tribal entities recognized and eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs by virtue of their status as Indian Tribes. The listed entities are acknowledged to have the immunities and privileges available to other federally acknowledged Indian Tribes by virtue of their government-to-government relationship with the United States as well as the responsibilities, powers, limitations and obligations of such Tribes. READ MORE!

What Are Our Trust Responsibilities to Federally Recognized Indian Tribes?

The United States has a unique legal relationship with Indian Tribal governments as set forth in the constitution, treaties, statutes, executive orders and court decisions. Since the formation of the union, the United States has recognized Indian Tribes as domestic dependent nations under its protection. The federal government has enacted numerous statutes and promulgated numerous regulations that establish and define a trust relationship with Indian Tribes. Our nation has recognized the right of Indian Tribes to self-government. As domestic dependent nations, Indian Tribes exercise inherent sovereign powers over their members and territory. The United States continues to work with Indian Tribes on a government-to-government basis to address issues concerning Indian Tribal self-government, Tribal trust resources and Indian Tribal treaty and other rights.

Due to the unique and distinctive political relationship that exists between the United States government and Indian governments, the Service maintains government-to-government relationships with Indian governments. The Service works directly with Tribes and respect Native American values when planning and implementing programs.

The Fish and Wildlife Service's Midwest Region recently developed a "Tribal Trust" video as a tool to help our employees better understand our trust responsibilities as a federal agency for working with Indian Tribes.

Click HERE to view the three parts to this important video.

Where do I go to Obtain Eagle Feathers?

Only Native Americans may possess a bald or golden eagle, including its parts (feathers, feet, etc.). The distribution of bald and golden eagles and their parts to Native Americans is authorized by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and regulations found in 50 CFR 22. Qualified (i.e., enrolled members of a federally-recognized Tribe) Native Americans wishing to obtain bald or golden eagles or their parts must submit an application to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Migratory Bird Permit Office. The completed application is sent to the National Eagle Repository and the order is filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Individual requests for whole eagles can take up to three and a half years before one becomes available, while a request for individual feathers may be obtained in just a few months. To find out more information about obtaining eagles you can visit the Service web site at:

Where Can Tribal Members go to Obtain Non-Eagle Feathers for Religious and Cultural Purposes?

To maintain and improve upon our trust relations with the Native American community, the Southwest Region of the Service has now established a two-year, non-eagle feather repository pilot program with both Tribal and non-Tribal partners. READ MORE!

What is Traditional Ecological Knowledge?

The term Traditional Ecological Knowledge, or TEK, is used to describe the knowledge held by indigenous cultures about their immediate environment and the cultural practices that build on that knowledge. Traditional ecological knowledge includes an intimate and detailed knowledge of plants, animals, and natural phenomena, the development and use of appropriate technologies for hunting, fishing, trapping, agriculture, and forestry, and a holistic knowledge, or "world view" which parallels the scientific discipline of ecology (Berkes 1993). The concept of TEK is not a panacea (Hunn 1993) and thus no universally accepted definition exists for TEK (Johnson 1992). I refer to the working definition developed by Berkes et al. (2000): Traditional Ecological Knowledge as a cumulative body of knowledge, practice, and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (human and non-human) with one another and with their environment.

Additional information regarding TEK can be found by clicking HERE.

Is There a Local Service "Point of Contact" for the Individual Native American Tribes Regarding Activities in their Respective States?

Yes! The list represents the Service personnel who are the respective Native American Tribe’s "point of contact." The designated individual Service contact is familiar with the respective Tribe’s culture, political function and natural resource programs. READ MORE!

Read more FAQs from the Bureau of Indian Affairs



Last updated: August 13, 2019