Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are some of the most commonly asked questions related to Native Americans in Nebraska, Tribal enrollment, American Indian Benefits and Services, Legal Assistance, and State/Federal Recognition for Tribes
How many American Indians reside in Nebraska?

According to the 2010 census, Native Americans comprise about 1% of the Nebraska population, depending on how individuals identify themselves.

Approximately 10,875 Native Americans reside on Nebraska’s reservations (i.e., Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, and Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) and within two tribal service areas (i.e., the Oglala Sioux Tribe, through the Chadron Native American Center Service Area, and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, through Nebraska’s Ponca Service Areas) (see Figure 3).

The Chadron Native American Center provides services and programming for the nearly 2,500

Nebraska residents of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who primarily reside in a four-county area of the

state’s panhandle region. The Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska is headquartered at Niobrara,

Nebraska. The tribe’s reservation lands have a population of more than 775 individuals, of whom more than one-third reside in the village of Santee, Nebraska. According to Gibbon (2007), the Sioux belief system is underpinned by the values and traits essential for successful nomadic bison hunting on the northern Great Plains, including individuality, bravery, sacrifice, and vision seeking. As a result of increasing settlement by Europeans during the 19th century, bison – the foundation of the Sioux economy – were virtually eradicated by the 1880s, to devastating effect on tribal life. Currently throughout the Sioux nation, tribal leaders are pursuing numerous economic development and capacity-building projects to provide tribal members with the skills and resources necessary to compete in the global economy while sustaining their tribal heritage and traditions.

The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska has about 5,200 members, of whom nearly 3,000 reside on the

Omaha Reservation at Macy, Nebraska. Among the various tribes living in Nebraska when white settlers first made their way into the region, the Omaha are the only Native Americans still inhabiting their ancient lands. According to Awakuni-Swetland (2007), the Omaha people followed a “complex schedule…of seasonal movements” that allowed them to cultivate “substantial gardens of maize, beans, and other cultigens, while conducting large-scale communcal bison hunts” on the plains of Nebraska and Kansas. While many tribe members make their home on the Omaha Reservation, others reside in nearby Omaha and Lincoln. Today, Omaha traditions are honored during an annual encampment and pow-wow, and the Omaha Tribal Council provides leadership and governance for a number of social and economic development efforts intended to further revive tribal culture and prosperity.

The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, also headquartered at Niobrara, Nebraska, provides services and support to more than 2,000 members. The Ponca settled in the Niobrara River valley of northeastern Nebraska during the early 18th century, engaging in communal traditions of maize horticulture and bison hunting. Due to the devastating effects of epidemic diseases that ravaged the Ponca community during the 19th century, tribe members occasionally pursued bison hunting full-time in favor of regular agricultural practice; however, the Poncas “never abandoned their homeland…and they continued to return to their sacred sites, villages, and gardens on a regular basis” (Gibbon, 2007). While the Ponca entered into four treaties with the U.S. government, the tribe was disbanded during 1962 in response to federal termination policy. Congress restored Ponca tribal status during 1990; however, the Ponca people were left without a residential land base. As a result, the Ponca tribe provides support and programming for its members in a service area encompassing 12 counties in Nebraska and three in Iowa and South Dakota. Currently, the Ponca Tribe is pursuing a number of economic development and cultural revitalization initiatives, such as the founding of the Ponca Health and Wellness Center in Omaha, Nebraska, the reintroduction of bison on tribal lands near Niobrara (Ritter, 2007), and a collaboration with fluent southern Ponca speakers on language preservation using language software and phrase-o-laters used by Department of Defense language specialists during the Iraq war.

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, with approximately 2,600 members, has its headquarters on the Winnebago Indian Reservation, which lies in the northern half of Thurston County in northeast Nebraska. The largest community on the reservation is the village of Winnebago. Located on the eastern side of the Reservation, Winnebago is home to most Winnebago (or Ho-Chunk) tribal members and accounts for almost 30 percent of the Reservation’s resident population. The Winnebago are native to the Wisconsin and Illinois regions. Through a series of moves by the federal government throughout the course of the 19th century, the tribe was moved to reservations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and finally in Nebraska. Today, the tribe’s primary economic sectors center on health and education services, manufacturing, agriculture, public administration, and retail trade (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, 2010).

 

Last updated on April 16, 2013 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs
How many state and federally recognized tribes are located in Nebraska?

here are four federally recognized tribes with headquarters located in Nebraska:

Santee Sioux Nation
Chairman Roger Trudell
(402) 857-2772

Omaha Tribe of Nebraska
Chairman Rodney Morris
(402) 837-5391

Ponca Tribe of Nebraska
Chairwoman Rebecca White
(402) 857-3391

Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Chairman John Blackhawk
(402) 878-2502

The Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska and Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri have service areas in both Kansas and Nebraska with tribal headquarters in Kansas; and the Oglala Sioux Tribe also owns land in Nebraska with many tribal members living in Nebraska, but tribal headquarters are in South Dakota. Recently, land was returned to the Pawnee near Dannebrog, Nebraska although their headquarters are in Oklahoma. Click here to see a full list of state and federally recognized tribes.

 

Last updated on April 19, 2013 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs
How do I enroll in a tribe?

Contact the specific tribe of your origin to ask about the procedure for tribal enrollment. The tribe will require those seeking tribal enrollment to provide documentation of their family genealogy, which describes how one is connected to the tribe by blood or marriage. Only the tribe can determine enrollment; the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs cannot determine enrollment.

For more information, visit the Bureau of Indian Affairs website about the tribal enrollment process.

 

Last updated on June 11, 2012 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
How do I research my family genealogy?

The U.S. Department of Interior website provides a wealth of information on researching genealogy.Please refer to their website for more information by clicking here.

 

Last updated on June 11, 2012 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
How do I contact a tribal entity?

The Tribal Leaders Directory of the Bureau of Indian Affairs provides a tribes’ name, address, phone, and fax number for each of the 565 Federally-recognized Tribes.

 

Last updated on June 11, 2012 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
What kinds of benefits are American Indians eligible for?

The U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, through its government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes, carries out the Federal Government’s unique and continuing relationship with and responsibility to tribes and Indian people. Indian Affairs programs support and assist federally recognized tribes in the development of tribal governments, strong economies, and quality programs. The scope of Indian Affairs programs is extensive and includes a range of services comparable to the programs of state and local government, e.g., education, social services, law enforcement, courts, real estate services, agriculture and range management, and resource protection.

Many Federal agencies other than the Indian Affairs have special programs to serve the American Indian population, i.e., the Indian Health Service (IHS), an adjunct of the Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The IHS provides health care services through a network of reservation-based hospitals and clinics. Besides standard medical care, the agency has established programs that specialize in maternal and child health, mental health, substance abuse, home health care, nutrition, etc. The Administration for Native Americans, another agency within HHS, administers programs aimed at strengthening tribal governments and supporting the social and economic development of reservation communities. Other agencies of the Federal Government that serves the special needs of Indian people include the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Agriculture, Education, Labor, Commerce and Energy.

All American Indians & Alaska Natives, whether they live on or off reservations, are eligible (like all other citizens who meet eligibility requirements) to receive services provided by the state such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Food Stamp Program and the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Additionally, Native Americans living in Nebraska may be eligible to receive care at the Fred LeRoy Health and Wellness Center in Omaha, Nebraska.  Contact the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska for more information regarding eligibility or to pick up application forms (1701 E Street, Lincoln, NE, Phone: 402-438-9222).

 

Last updated on June 11, 2012 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
Do American Indians pay state and federal income taxes?

Yes. American Indians are United States citizens and they do pay income taxes, except for wages paid to them by some federally-recognized tribes.

 

Last updated on June 11, 2012 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
Do American Indians receive a cash payment from the United States Government?

No. However, the federal government might pay certain tribes’ royalties for leased properties, mining rights, water rights, etc. Such funds are usually paid directly to federally-recognized tribal governments and are disbursed as they see fit.

 

Last updated on June 11, 2012 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
Who can I contact for legal assistance?

Please see our Resources page for a listing of organizations to contact for legal assistance.

 

Last updated on June 11, 2012 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
How does a tribe obtain federal recognition?

Contact the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC to request a copy of the federal recognition criteria.

 

Last updated on June 11, 2012 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
General Questions

The Bureau of Indian Affairs offers an extensive list of FAQs in regard to Native Americans in the U.S.

 

Last updated on June 11, 2012 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
Top 99 Questions about Native Americans

Here is a frequently asked questions list neatly compiled by the Native American Encyclopedia. Click here. It covers the following topics and many more:

American Indians, tribes, tribal nations and government, Native Americans, reservations, trust land, tribal sovereignty, gaming, casinos, Native languages, pipe, eagles, feathers, teepees, powwows, tobacco, etc.

 

Last updated on January 9, 2013 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.
10 Things to Know about Indian Law

Click here to view the top ten things to know about Indian Law

 

Last updated on September 12, 2013 by Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.