For a tribe to obtain federal recognition as a tribe, the Department of Interior must grant the recognition. The criteria are designed to achieve eligibility for federal services and other benefits of tribal status for Indian groups that have maintained a "substantially continuous tribal existence and which have functioned as autonomous entities throughout history until the present." 25 C.F.R. Par 83.3.
The Department of Interior's decision to acknowledge or deny acknowledgement is subject to administrative review before the Interior Board of Indian Appeals. 25 C.F.R. Par 83.11.
Congress, in 1994, required the Secretary of the Interior to publish annually in the Federal Register a list of all tribes recognized to be eligible for federal services because of their Indian status.