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BIA recognition decision database now online
Friday, July 16, 2004

For months, Bureau of Indian Affairs officials have been touting a CD-ROM containing documents related to the federal recognition process. Thanks to Indianz.Com, you can now access them online!

The Acknowledgment Decision Compilation (ADC) is a record of documents the BIA has on file for dozens of groups that have made it through the federal recognition process. It contains over 600 MB of documents that were scanned in by the agency's Office of Federal Acknowledgment.

The ADC is actually a Microsoft Access database that contains links to TIFF images of the documents. To make it more accessible, Indianz.Com converted the database to a web page at

The database only contains information on petitioners that have received an answer -- preliminary or final -- on their status. Groups that are still in the process are not included.

But for each petitioner that has received an answer, the ADC has the following information:
  • letter of intent
  • technical assistance letters, if any
  • proposed finding
  • final determination

    The ADC does not contain evidence pertaining to each petitioner. That information is found in the Federal Acknowledgment Information Resource (FAIR), another Access database that BIA officials developed for the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Connecticut. The system is being used in future recognition cases.

    Documents in the ADC database date as far back as 1826, when the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana asked for recognition. The earliest proposed finding, in favor of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa in Michigan, is from 1979.

    The version of the ADC posted online stops at 2003. An updated database, with decisions on several New England tribes, will be posted when we receive it.

    The BIA used TIFF images rather than other formats because TIFF files can handle multiple pages. The files are sometimes smaller in size than Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files, a format popular for sharing documents online.

    The downside is that you will have to install a special tool if you want to view the TIFF images within your browser. AthenaTiff ( offers a free plug-in that works with Internet Explorer and Netscape.

    Alternatively, you can download the TIFFs to your hard drive. The files can be opened with almost every graphics program.

    Using AthenaTiff is fairly straightforward. The tool features a toolbar that can be used to move through multiple-page documents.

    Documents with many pages, such as the proposed findings and final determinations, will take some time to view. AthenaTiff will not display the first page until all pages are downloaded. You may want to save these larger documents to your hard drive.

    Currently, the page posted contains only one way to view the information -- by the document ID assigned by the BIA. This means there are multiple entries for each petitioner.

    Initially, the BIA planned to post the recognition compilation online but still hasn't received approval to restart its web site.

    Related Stories:
    BIA bashed over federal recognition decisions (5/6)
    BIA critical of main components of recognition bill (04/22)
    Senate committee takes on federal recognition bill (4/21)
    Martin predicts hot summer on gaming, recognition (4/16)
    Challenges await Anderson on federal recognition (02/26)
    Date for House hearing on recognition not set (02/13)
    Tribal foes in Conn. want to stop flow of money (02/10)
    GAO asked to investigate Schaghticoke recognition (2/9)
    Jeff Benedict: BIA out of control on tribal recognition (2/9)
    Column: Federal recognition all about 'big wampum' (2/9)
    House Resourcess to hold recognition hearing (2/6)
    Gover praises BIA for not bowing to pressure (2/2)
    Lack of evidence addressed in recognition bill (02/19)
    Sweeping recognition reform bill offered (02/07)
    At BIA, no recognition of new tribes (2/5)
    BIA recognition still hard to prove for some (01/22)
    McCaleb delivers aggressive recognition plan (10/03)
    BIA role in recognition decisions under review (06/13)
    BIA Budget: Doing more with less (3/26)
    Bush budget cuts funds for new tribes (3/20)
    McCaleb takes on recognition (3/15)
    Inside the BIA, plenty of drama (3/4)
    Ashcroft urged to charge BIA officials (3/1)
    Solutions sought for 'hijacked' recognition (11/9)
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    Gover: Recognition study 'cooked' (11/1)
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    McCaleb decision sure to draw scrutiny (7/31)
    BIA pushed to provide 'answers' on tribes (7/26)
    McCaleb endorses BIA on recognition (6/14)
    Gover's 'activist' legacy escapes McCaleb (6/13)
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