Go to Indian Reservation Stamp Index (actually see the stamps!)


By Michael Jaffe

The  interest  in Indian Reservation stamps has been on the increase for several years. Contrary  to the belief of many collectors, Indian Reservations are not jumping on the stamp issuing bandwagon. The fact  of the  matter  is  that most Indian Reservations don’t really care about stamp collectors. The  purpose  of  these stamps is to allow sportsmen to hunt and fish on Reservation lands. Although money is raised for the tribe by selling  stamps  to collectors, the total amount brought in is quite small compared to the main  thrust  of  fund raising of most Indian Reservations today: casino gambling. I am hopeful that I can answer some of the most frequent questions and concerns regarding this relatively new collecting field.

There  are  over 400 different Indian Reservations in the United States. Many of these  are  very small and  don’t allow  hunting  or  fishing on their Reservation. A larger  number of Reservations issue special permanent  type  ID cards to their members, which allow them to fish and hunt on tribal  grounds.  Some  of these reservations have validation stickers that are placed on the back of the ID card. These stickers are  well controlled and not usually allowed outside the hands of the person in charge of issuing the permits.

Many  Indian Reservations that issue stamps have a multi tiered price structure. Although some have a face  value printed on them, most do not. This enables the issuing agent to charge the appropriate fee  to  the purchaser.  For example,  if you want to hunt deer or antelope on the Standing Rock  Reservation  in  North Dakota,  you would be issued a license and receive a stamp. The price you would pay for this would  depend on  if  you  were  a Tribal Member and where you lived. An enrolled tribal  member  is  charged  $5.00.  A member  of another Indian Reservation is charged $10.00. North Dakota residents (non-Indians) are  charged $30.00 and non-residents pay $100.00. Tribal members over 60 are not charged at all. (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe General Hunting & Fishing Regulations. 1992)

Most  Indian  Reservations that issue stamps do so to maintain control of who hunts and fishes  on their Reservation. The  first Indian Reservation to issue their own stamps was the Rosebud Reservation  of  South Dakota  in  the  late 1950’s. (Torre, 1992; 1995) Crow Creek Sioux Tribe  of South  Dakota  began  issuing stamps  in 1961. Since that time, fewer than 20 Indian Reservations have issued any type of stamps for  hunting  or  fishing and some of those have discontinued their use. I am only aware of one  Reservation  that  has begun  to  issue  stamps  since the end of 1992; the Pueblo of Zuni, which started a stamp,  program  in  1995. Unlike  many  state duck stamp programs which issue stamps with the purpose of raising  needed  funds  from the  collector market, Reservations that issue stamps do so for the purpose of hunting and  fishing  on  Indian land.  In 1992, the Oglala Sioux (Pine Ridge Reservation) and Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe  (SWST) each issued a waterfowl stamp depicting a picture of a duck. These were produced in a larger than normal quantity with collectors in mind. SWST went back to their text style waterfowl stamp in 1993 and the Oglala issued  a pictorial  waterfowl stamp in 1993. The 1993 stamp was overprinted for 1994. With the exception  of  these few stamps, the demands of the collectors and dealers have not influenced the stamp production at any Reservation.

Indian  Reservations that sell their stamps to collectors usually do not do so until the hunting  or fishing season is over. This is done to ensure that enough stamps will be available for the sportsmen.  Occasionally, the  reservation runs out of stamps. Although this is frustrating to the collector who wants a  "complete"  collection,  this  is  one of the reasons many people want to start collecting  Indian  Reservation  stamps.  These people  find it refreshing to collect stamps that were not produced with collectors in mind. True, the  designs are simple and perhaps not as attractive as most pictorial state duck stamps - but keep in mind that  sportsmen don’t really care what their stamps or tags look like. They just want to hunt or fish.

The  majority  of available Indian Reservation stamps are not very expensive. In fact,  most  have face values  of $20.00 or less. While a few tribes have stamps with face values up to $250 (most of these  are  for out of state big game hunters), the retail price on a high percentage of Indian Reservation stamps is $20.00 or less.  Many of these stamps $20.00 or less stamps are in short supply with less than 100 known.  Remember when North Dakota hunter type stamps were selling for three times face?

No  one  can  predict the future of any collectible, but Indian Reservation stamps have  a  lot  going for them:  An  interesting  history, increasing collector interest and scarcity. It’s not too  late to start  collecting Indian  Reservation stamps, however it won’t be long until even the inexpensive stamps begin to elude collectors.


Standing Rock Sioux Tribe General Hunting & Fishing Regulations. SRST, ND, 1992.

Torre, D.R. Personal communication, 1992.

Torre, D.R. The Fish & Game Stamps of the Rosebud Reservation The American Revenuer, 1995 May issue