Proposed Part 83 Changes to Federal Acknowledgment Process

Proposed Rule here:

2014-05-22 Proposed Rule 25 CFR 83

Related materials:

Comparison Chart 05-22-14

Frequently Asked Questions on Proposed 25 CFR 83

Summary of Comments and Responses on Part 83 Discussion Draft

Press release here:

Interior Proposes Reform of Federal Acknowledgment Regulations

Proposed rule would address “broken” process

Washington, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today announced publication of proposed regulations that would reform the 35-year old process by which the Department of the Interior officially recognizes Indian tribes. Federal acknowledgment establishes the U.S. Government as the trustee for Tribal lands and resources and makes Tribal members and governments eligible for federal budget assistance and program services.

“President Obama believes that reforming the federal acknowledgment process will strengthen our important trust relationship with Indian tribes. Acknowledgment by the Department of the Interior confirms the existence of a nation-to-nation relationship between an Indian Tribe and the United States,” said Secretary Jewell. “Through this Administration’s outreach initiatives, tribal leaders have told us that the current process can be inconsistent, cost millions of dollars and take decades to complete. Our proposed rule maintains the rigorous integrity needed, but allows that process to be conducted in a timely, efficient and transparent manner.”

The existing regulations, known as “the Part 83 process”, were originally adopted in 1978 and were updated only once 20 years ago. Prior to that, Interior had addressed requests for Tribal acknowledgment on a case-by-case basis. While the 1978 regulations established a structured process for federal acknowledgment, these regulations have been widely criticized as being too time-consuming, sometimes arbitrary and generally “broken.”

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ASU Law Conference on the Federal Recognition Process — Jan. 16-17, 2014

Frank Ettawageshik, our mentor and former LTBB tribal chair, helped to organize this one: “Who Decides You’re Real? Fixing the Federal Recognition Process.”

Agenda is here.

More Federal Recognition Materials: Grand River Bands

The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians of Michigan (official website) has been petitioning for federal recognition.

Chairman Ron Yob’s powerful testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is here (2006) and here (2007).

Senator Carl Levin’s statement about the Bands is here.

More Federal Recognition: The Burt Lake Band Case

The Burt Lake Band of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians is petitioning for federal recognition. The BIA has proposed to deny their recognition. Last year, the BIA finalized that proposal to deny, but these documents are not online yet.

Documents here:

Notice of Proposed Finding Against — dated April 15, 2004

Documents in Support of the Proposed Finding — dated March 25, 2004

A copy of the bill to recognize the Burt Lake Band via Act of Congress is here.

The Burt Lake Band are the descendants of the people subjected to the “Burt Lake Burnout” near the turn of the century. We’re written about this disaster here.