Federal Recognition

BIA holds final in-person meeting on federal recognition reform






The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts is hosting the meeting at its new government center. Photo from MWT

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is holding the final in-person meeting on Part 83 reforms to the federal recognition process today.

The Obama administration has proposed the first major overhaul of the federal acknowledgment process since 1978. A series of public meetings and tribal consultations were held all throughout the month, ending with one today that's being hosted by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts, whose federal recognition became final in May 2007.

But intense public interest prompted the BIA to add two more public meetings and two more tribal consultations. Those sessions, however, will be held over the telephone.

Written comments can be submitted through September 30. A notice being published in tomorrow's issue of the Federal Register announces the extension.

The Part 83 reforms make two significant changes. One is that petitioning groups only have to provide documents dating back to 1934 as opposed to time of first contact.

The proposal also allows groups that already went through the process to re-apply. But a controversial provision allows interested parties to object, something that may make it impossible for certain tribes to submit another petition.

The issue has generated the most attention in Connecticut, where three previously denied tribes want to start the process again. But it also would affect petitioners in Washington and in other states.

Get the Story:
Feds discuss changing tribal recognition process (AP 7/29)

Forthcoming Federal Register Notice:
Federal Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes (To Be Published July 30, 2014)

Federal Register Notice:
Federal Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes (May 29, 2014)

Relevant Documents:
Proposed Rule | Press Release | Comparison Chart (comparing current rule to proposed rule) | Response to Comments on June 2013 Discussion Draft | Frequently Asked Questions

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