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Native American Reservations

A Native American reservation is a place set aside for Native Americans to live on by the United States.

In Canada, land set aside for Indigenous Americans are called reserves. They have a long history but reservations are still around in the Americas today.

Also Read: Canada facts for kids

Indian Reservations In The Continental United States

Are reservations part of the United States?

While reservations are surrounded by the American land controlled by national governments, they do have their own laws with their own governments.

Reservations do not follow state law. However, they do have to observe federal law. Federal laws are laws that apply across the United States.

They are considered nations of their own even though they are part of the United States.

Paiute Owned Cattle Begins At Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation

Are reserves part of Canada?

Communities of Indigenous Americans in Canada were called “bands” by the Indian Act (first passed in 1876) by the federal government.

This Act marked out land called reserves set aside for band members. Band members often prefer to be called First Nations.

Aboriginal War Veterans Monument

Band members have the right to live on this land and they have their own government there. However, reserves are still under the control of the national government.

The Indian Act has had many changes since it was created but it still states that no Indigenous American has the right to own the land in a reserve.

The Minister of Indian Affairs still controls who owns property on the reserves.

Parliament Ottawa

When did reservations comes about in the USA?

Reservations began with the Indian Appropriations Act in 1851. This Act authorised the establishment of Native American reservations in Oklahoma.

How many reservations are there in the USA and Canada?

There are 310 reservations in the USA, and Canada has between 2000-3000 reserves.


In the USA, around 2.5 million Native Americans live on reservations, but most Native Americans live in cities or other areas.

In Canada, around half of Indigenous Americans live on reserves.

What is life like on reserves?

Fort Stanwix National Monument

For many Indigenous Americans, life has been tough on reservations in the USA and the reserves of Canada.

Even though Native American civil rights movements happened in the 1960s and 1970s, there is still lots of work to be done to make life fair for all citizens, especially Indigenous Americans.

There is a lot of poverty on reserve life. To show the world what life is like, a protest movement called “Idle No More” was started in 2013.

US Capitol building (home of Congress)

It was a peaceful protest to the government for sovereignty (the ability to rule one’s own nation) and also for the government to protect the environment.

It’s very important that the governments of the world listen to the voices of young people. For this reason, some Indigenous Americans have invited other Canadians to come and spend time on the reserves to see what life is like there.

Idle No More

Quiz Time!

Who owns reservations in the United States?

When was the Indian Appropriations Act?

How many reserves are there in Canada?

What was the protest movement called in 2013?

Why did this protest movement start?

Native Americans

Red Cliff Indian Reservation In Wisconsin During Their Annual Pow Wow

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