What Are the Requirements for Attaining Native American Status?

In order to establish descent from an American Indian or Alaska Native tribe, a person must provide genealogical documentation that supports the claim of ancestry from a specific tribe or tribal community. The documentation must prove that the person is a lineal descendant of an individual whose name is on the tribal membership roll of the federally recognized tribe from which the person is claiming descent and in which he seeks to enroll, states the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

A person seeking tribal enrollment must also document his relationship to his ancestor using vital statistics records and other records that a tribe may require or accept for purposes of enrollment. Various tribes may also have their own requirements for membership that differ from the Bureau of Indian Affairs', such as tribal blood quantum, residency or continued contact with the tribe. Even if a person can prove that he has ancestry from several tribes and is eligible to enroll in more than one, he may only be a member in one tribe at a time, unless one or more of the tribes allows otherwise. Tribes themselves almost always handle tribal enrollment, rather than the Bureau of Indian Affairs, explains the Bureau of Indian Affairs.