Red Lake Nation welcome sign

Need to Know: Minnesota Tribes

Our “Need to Know” blog series explores important Tribal governance-related concepts in detail. In this post, we take a look at the Native nations located in Minnesota. (This is the first in a series of posts on Tribes in our region.)

Did you know that Minnesota is home to eleven federally-recognized, sovereign Native nations? Tribal governments, state governments, and the federal government all have their own definitions of what it means to be a Native nation. Some Tribes have recognition at both the state and federal level. Others are recognized only by the state and/or other Tribes.

What does sovereignty mean? Tribes have varying definitions for what it means to be sovereign. At Native Governance Center, we define sovereignty as:

the inherent right of Tribal nations to govern themselves by establishing systems that organize their society, offer programs and services to their citizens, and work with other governmental entities on a nation-to-nation basis


Anishinaabe Nations

There are seven Anishinaabe and four Dakota nations located in Minnesota. The Anishinaabe nations include the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and Red Lake Nation. Originally, all seven were established by treaty; the federal government considers them to be separate nations. With the exception of Red Lake Nation, the Anishinaabe nations in Minnesota are joined together in a federation of Tribes known as the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe (MCT). A federally-created entity, the MCT provides a centralized governmental structure for the six bands. Each band also has its own Reservation Business Council that serves as a decision-making body.


Dakota Nations

The four Dakota nations located in Minnesota are as follows: the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Prairie Island Indian Community, Lower Sioux Indian Community, and Upper Sioux Indian Community. The four Dakota nations are located south of the Twin Cities, while the seven Anishinaabe nations are located to the north.

To learn more about Minnesota Tribes, visit the Resources page on our website for a list of all the Tribes in our region.