BIA fails to recognize Juaneno Band of Mission Indians

by Mar 17, 2011NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments

     WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk issued a final determination not to acknowledge the petitioner known as the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians (Petitioner #84B) as an Indian tribe on Thursday, March 17. This petitioner, located in Santa Ana, Calif., has 455 members.

     The evidence in the record demonstrates that the petitioner does not meet four of the seven mandatory criteria for federal acknowledgment as set forth in 25 CFR 83.7.

     In accordance with the regulations [section 83.6(c)], the failure to meet all seven criteria requires a determination that the petitioning group is not an Indian tribe within the meaning of federal law.

     Therefore, the Department declines to acknowledge the petitioner. This final determination treats the Indian population at the San Juan Capistrano (SJC) Mission in 1834 as the “historical Indian tribe” from which the petitioner must demonstrate continuous existence as an Indian tribe.

     The final determination concluded, however, that the petitioner did not demonstrate that it continued as a tribe since that time. The four criteria the petitioner does not meet are Criteria 83.7(a), 83.7(b), 83.7(c) and 83.7(e).  

     Criterion 83.7(a) requires that external observers have identified the petitioner as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900. The available evidence demonstrates that external observers identified the petitioner as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis only since 1997, not since 1900.

     Criterion 83.7(b) requires that a predominant portion of the petitioning group has comprised a distinct community from historical times to the present. The available evidence demonstrates that the distinct SJC Indian community, from which the petitioners claim descent, continued to exist only to 1862.

     Criterion 83.7(c) requires that the petitioning group has maintained political influence over its members as an autonomous entity from historical times to the present. The available evidence does not demonstrate that the petitioner maintained political influence or authority over its members as an autonomous entity from 1835 until the present.

     Criterion 83.7(e) requires that the petitioner’s members descend from a historical Indian tribe. The available evidence shows that only 53 percent of the petitioner’s 455 members demonstrated descent from the historical Indian tribe at San Juan Capistrano Mission. The three criteria the petitioner meets are Criteria 83.7(d), 83.7(f) and 83.7(g).

     Criterion 83.7(d) requires that the petitioner provide a copy of its governing document including its membership criteria.

     Criterion 83.7(f) requires that the petitioner’s membership be composed principally of persons who are not members of another federally recognized Indian tribe.

     Criterion 83.7(g) requires that the petitioner not be subject to legislation forbidding the federal relationship. The Department made the final determination following a review of the petitioner’s and the public’s comments on the proposed finding, which the Department issued on December 3, 2007.

     This determination will become final and effective 90 days after its publication as a notice in the Federal Register, unless the petitioner or any interested party requests reconsideration with the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA) within that time period.

     Copies of the final determination and Federal Register notice will be posted on the Indian Affairs website at