It’s not just states and cities that live inside the United States, but also a large collection of tribal nations. These nations are mostly Indian in origin, and most of them are located in Alaska. The nations have their own standing with the government and have their own relationship with the United States. In the history of the U.S, most of the Indian nations were treated as sovereigns, or at the very least their land belonged to them, and the present-day government does the same thing.
They are first and foremost citizens of their tribe, then the U.S, and then whatever state they live in, and are mostly left to govern themselves. Their self-government is the backbone on their nation status, and it enables them to protect their unique way of life and governance. The tribes take care of all the matters of their members and their land, and can create and enforce laws just like our government can.
The best way to understand a tribal nation is to think of them like a smaller government inside of the U.S, with all the same benefits, and the ability to answer to themselves and manage their own people and affairs. They enforce taxes, civil laws, regulations, education, and the management of their lands. The tribal nation services are also responsible for education, healthcare, resource management, and managing infrastructure.
The entire relationship stems from the trust responsibility, and ensures that the Indian tribes of the U.S will be able to live according to their own values and believes, while also respecting the United States and its laws. It’s a very interesting relationship and dynamic, but it also respects and preserves the early history of the U.S and its complex relationship with the native people and nations that came before.