The indigenous people of America have always been sovereign nations, independent political entities, separate from each other and the rest of the world. Their sovereignty is inherent, not given. Tribal Governments existed long before the creation of the United States of America and our founding fathers recognized the tribes as sovereign entities from our earliest moments as a country memorialized in the United States Constitution,
"The Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes."
United States Constitution- Article 1, Section 8.
Today, the 567 federally recognized Indian tribes exercise their sovereignty through government-to-government relationships with the United States. Tribes possess both the right and authority to create, pass, and enforce laws that promote the health, safety, and welfare of tribal people on tribal lands.
Federal Indian Reservations
In the United States there are three types of reserved federal lands: military, public, and Indian. A federal Indian reservation is an area of land reserved for a tribe or tribes under treaty or other agreement with the United States, executive order, or federal statute or administrative action as permanent tribal homelands, and where the federal government holds title to the land in trust on behalf of the tribe.
Approximately 56.2 million acres are held in trust by the United States for various Indian tribes and individuals. There are approximately 326 Indian land areas in the U.S. administered as federal Indian reservations (i.e., reservations, pueblos, rancherias, missions, villages, communities, etc.). California is home to 111 federally-recognized Indian tribes.