1. STRENGTHEN YOUR TRIBE. Becoming a tribal member strengthens your tribe by increasing the number of tribal citizens. Historically, many tribes suffered severely from policies designed to discourage tribal membership or affiliation, native languages, Indian religion, and tribal traditions.

2. INCREASE FUNDING FOR YOUR TRIBE. Many federal grants available to Tribes depend upon census and other population statistics identifying numbers of tribal members. The larger a tribe's citizenship, the greater potential it has for obtaining increased funding for services.

3. IT'S YOUR CIVIC DUTY. As a descendent of American Indians, it is your civic duty to become involved in your tribe's activities, government, services, and traditions. Individuals maintain tribal identity, shape their future and strengthen tribal sovereignty.

4. GAIN INDIAN LAW PROTECTIONS. As a tribal member, you will gain the protection of federal and state "Indian laws" which only apply to Native Americans. For example the federal Indian Child Welfare Act grants parents of an Indian child additional protections such as court appointed attorneys, notice to your Tribe, potential removal of child welfare cases to tribal court, and requires efforts to reunify Indian families and extended families. To be entitled to most "Indian law" protections, you must first be a tribal member.

5. USE OF TRIBAL COURTS. Each of Oklahoma's Indian Tribes have established their own Tribal Court or utilize a Court of Indian Offenses (CFR Court). Tribal members can often use these courts to resolve disputes in Indian country. Tribal courts frequently provide a less expensive and more timely resolution to a legal problem. Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc. provides a free Guide to Pro Se Form Pleadings Available in Tribal Courts, Seeking Native Justice.

6. INDIAN EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES. The federal government and individual Tribes have identified Indian education as a priority for sustaining tribal governments. Scholarships for higher education, vocational training and graduate school are available to tribal members. In primary grades and high school the Johnson O'Malley program provides tutoring, school supplies and special activities for Indian children. Contact your local school or Tribe for more information.

7. INDIAN HOUSING PROGRAMS. Each of Oklahoma's tribes operate Indian Housing Authorities which provide housing to low income families and the elderly. Tribal housing programs also often provide assistance with weatherization, heating and air conditioning, and other habitability issues.

8. INDIAN HEALTH SERVICES (IHS). Tribal members are entitled to free or low cost health care at IHS facilities. In Oklahoma IHS facilities are available in Ada, Anadarko, Broken Bow, El Reno, Lawton, McAlester, McLoud, Okemah, Oklahoma City, Ponca City, Sallisaw, Tahlequah, Tishomingo, Tulsa, Weatherford; and, throughout the United States.

9. MINORITY BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES. Many federal, state and tribal contracts include a preference for minority business including those owned by American Indians. The American Indian Chamber of Commerce is located at: P.O. Box 700865, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74170; (918) 492-9639.

10. CULTURAL IDENTITY. Probably the most important reason to become a member of your Tribe is the personal sense of cultural identity you will enjoy. The pride you will take in your Tribe's social, political, and historical accomplishments will reward you many times over.

Prepared by: Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc.
4200 Perimeter Drive, Suite 222
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112
(405) 943-OILS, (800) 658-1497
Fax: (405) 840-7060

Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc. is a non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal services to low income Native American people throughout the state of Oklahoma. OILS is centrally located in Oklahoma City and serves all 77 counties and 39 Indian nations. OILS handles cases including Indian Child Welfare; Natural Resources including determinations of death and heirship, wills and probates where restricted or trust Indian land is involved; Indian Housing; Individual Rights such as access to Indian health care and Indian education; and Tribal Sovereignty issues. OILS does not handle criminal cases. Applications for services may be completed by calling OILS' toll-free telephone number, 1-800-658-1497, on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.