DOI revamps tribal federal recognition rules

by Jul 6, 2015NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments





The Department of Interior (DOI) issued rules on Monday, June 29 that it hopes will curb the lengthy federal recognition petition process.  Some tribes that have been recognized through the previous process have had to wait decades such as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts who had to wait 32 years before receiving federal recognition.

“This updated process for important tribal recognition makes good on a promise to clarify, expedite and honor a meaningful process for federal acknowledgment to our First Americans,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said on Monday.

The new rules, released in a 140-page document, details what the DOI hopes will add transparency and timeliness to the petitioning process.  Download the Full Report here

Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn commented, “This updated rule is the product of extraordinary input from tribal leaders, states, local governments and the public. We have a responsibility to recognize those tribes that have maintained their identity and self-governance despite previous federal policies expressly aimed at destroying tribes.  This new process remains rigorous, but it promotes timely decision-making through expedited processes and increases transparency by posting all publically available petition materials online so that stakeholders are well-informed at each stage of the process.”

One of the major changes in the new rules is the beginning date that tribes must document from.  According to DOI information, “The previous rule imposed different documentary burdens by evaluating petitioners based on first sustained contact.  The final rule implements a uniform date of 1900, which promotes efficiencies over the previous rule while still requiring over a century of documentation.”

The new rules also disallow tribes to re-petition.  Once the tribe has been denied, it cannot file a new petition.  “This includes any petitioners that have reorganized or been renamed or that are wholly or primarily portions of groups that have been denied under these or previous acknowledgment regulations,” DOI information states.

NCAI president Brian Cladoosby said on Tuesday, June 30, “Although this is a compromise, NCAI greatly appreciates the effort and commitment from the Administration to get these regulations finalized and to improve the process.  NCAI has been pushing for years for all tribes seeking recognition to have a fair and equitable process.”