The Congress of the United States passed the Indian Appropriations Act in 1851 under President Millard Fillmore. This act created reservations for Native American Indians. These reservations are parcels of land that are managed by Native American tribes as their own sovereign nation. The creation of the reservations was to serve two purposes. The United States government hoped that setting aside land for the Native Americans would avoid clashes between them and the white settlers. The government also hoped that by confiding the Native Americans to an area of land, they could be watched, with hopes of "civilizing" them.
There are 310 Indian reservations in America, but not all recognized tribes have their own reservation. Some tribes are so large that they may have more than one reservation. Some of the Indian reservations are quite large. Twelve of them are larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. Nine of the reservations are larger than the state of Delaware. The total land of the Indian reservations is 55.7 million acres. While that may seem like a lot of land, it only comprises 2.3% of the total land in the United States. There are almost two million Native Americans living on reservations.
These reservations are governed by the tribal council, although the system of government may vary from reservation to reservation. Life on the reservation is often of lower quality than that of the surrounding areas. There are high instances of unemployment, alcoholism, and poverty while the Native Americans struggle to retain and pass down their heritage and culture.
To help, the Reagan administration allowed the tribes of the reservations to open gambling sites on the land as a revenue earner. The first Indian bingo operation in the United States was opened by the Seminole tribe in Florida in 1979. The Indian Gambling Regulatory Act was passed in 1988. This act allows gambling facilities on reservations as long as the state government allows for some type of legalized gambling.