By definition, a Native American (or American Indian) reservation is an area of land that is owned and managed by a Native American tribe. There are 310 registered Native American Reservations in the United States. This does not include the at least 550 other unregistered Native American Reservations in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. This also does not include the Native American Reservations in Canada. There are Native American Reservations throughout the United States; however, most of them are located in the mid-west and central parts of the country. Today, living in the United States, there are 2.5 million Native Americans, with at least 1 million of them living on reservations.
The name “reservation” came about because it was thought that the areas of land that the Native American’s owned were separate sovereigns from the rest of the land in the United States when the constitution was ratified. Peace Treaties between Native American tribes and the United States government allowed Native Americans to keep and manage this land independently.
Native American Reservations have always been controversial. Starting in 1851, congress passed the Indian Appropriates Act which authorized the creation of reservations in Oklahoma. Often settlers going west would encroach on land and resources that rightfully belonged to the tribes. This caused an even larger rift between settlers and natives. By the 1860’s Ulysses S. Grand perused a peace policy with Native American tribes which relocated them to different parts of land and also tried to teach Christianity to the tribes. This also caused unrest and anger between tribes and the rest of the United States.
Today, Native American land is more protected and Native American Reservations are allowed to hold their own laws, especially in the areas of taxes, revenue, and gambling. Many Native American reservations now are home to casinos, which bring in revenue for the tribes.