American Indian Tribe – a definable group with sociological, cultural, and familial links who resides on one reservation

     This page is continued from Indian Country Law >>>> Legal Term Definitions pertaining to Indian Country:



1. Broadly, a discrete group of people characterized by sociological, cultural, and familial links <Celtic tribes of Gaul>.  *  A tribe is not necessarily a united and cohesive sociological group.  The term is also used loosely to refer to any group, such as a family <the Kincaid tribe>.

(pertaining to American Indian law)

2. American Indian law. A definable group or organized band or pueblo of American Indians, especially those residing on one reservation.  See 25 USCA § 479[1]

     “By a ‘tribe’ we understand a body of Indians of the same or a similar race, united in a community under one leadership or government, and inhabiting a particular though sometimes ill-defined territory; by a ‘band,’ a company of Indians not necessarily, though often of the same race or tribe, but united under the same leadership in a common design.” [2]


1. A member of the aboriginal race which inhabited the continents of North America and South America at the time of the discovery by Columbus.  27 Am J1st Indians § 2.

3. A word descriptive of race, that is, the red race, so that a white man or negro does not become an “Indian” by adoption into an Indian tribe.  27 Am J1st Indians § 2.

3. In a meaning secondary in the United States, a person of India. If born or naturalized in the United States, a citizen of the United States and of the state wherein he resides. 3 Am J2d Aliens § 116.

     See mestizo; mixed blood; pueblo dwellersreservation Indians. [3]

Indian tribe:

1. A group, band, nation; or other or organized group of indigenous American people, including any Alaskan native village, that is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the U.S. government because of Indian status (42 USCA § 9601(36)); such group having a federally recognized governing body that carries out substantial governmental duties and powers over an. area (42 USCA§ 3001(14); 40 CFR § 146.3).  *  A tribe may be identified in various ways, especially by past dealings with other tribes or with the federal, state, or local government, or by recognition in historical records. aka federally recognized tribe. [1]

1. A body of Indians, united in a community under one leadership or government, and inhabiting a particular territory.  27 Am J1st Indians § 4

Indian chief:

1. The leader or a tribe.  That officer of an Indian nation, such as the Cherokee Nation, who discharges the duties which usually pertain to the office of governor.  Whltsett v Forehand, 79 NC 230, 233

Indian band:

1. A company of Indians, not necessarily, though often, of the same race or tribe, united under the same leadership in a common design. Connors v United States, 180 US 271, 45 L Ed 525, 21 S Ct 362.

Indian nation:

1. A large tribe of Indians, or a group of affiliated tribes, as, bear witness, the Iroquois.  27 Am J1st Indians §6

Indian maize (maze):

1. In the very broad sense fo the term, “corn” is grain, but in this country, “corn” means the grain of the plant of maize, often called Indian corn. 

Indian war:

1. A war in which American Indians engaged the whites.  27 Am J1st Indlans § 12[3]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]:  Montoya v. U.S., 180 U.S. 261, 266, 21 S.Ct. 358, 359 (1901).

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931


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