Lesson Plan

As sovereign nations, American Indian and Alaska Native tribes develop and manage their own governments. This lesson examines the varied structures and functions of tribal government as well as the relationship these nations have with the United States. Students will explore the history of treaties between the U.S.and tribal governments and assess the success of the U.S. in executing its federal trust responsibilities to the American Indian and Alaska Native people.

This resource was created with support from the National Association of Counties.


  • Define sovereignty as it relates to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes
  • Explain the purpose of a tribal government
  • Demonstrate understanding of the structure, functions and powers of tribal government
  • Explain how the federal government is a component of sovereignty for American Indian and Alaska Native tribes
  • Identify roles and relationships among federal, tribal, and state governments


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