Federal Recognition

Bureau of Indian Affairs to deny federal status to Cherokee group






Leaders of the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee Indians. Photo from Facebook

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is proposing to deny federal recognition to a group known as the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokees.

According to a notice published in the Federal Register on Friday, the group did not meet all seven mandatory criteria for recognition. Although its members were able to document descent from the historic Cherokee Nation, acting assistant Larry Roberts said they have not been identified as an Indian entity since 1900, did not demonstrate their existence as a distinct Indian community since historical times and have not maintained an autonomous political organization since historical times.

"The petitioner claims to have evolved from the pre-Removal Cherokee Nation and to represent a specific Cherokee family that did not remove westward with the Tribe in the 19th century," the notice reads. "The vast majority of the petitioner's members identify descent from Rachel Martin, a Cherokee woman, her husband Daniel Davis, and primarily their three children who remained near Dahlonega, Georgia, after the Cherokee Nation removed to Indian Territory in the 1830s."

The group was among the first to submit a petition for federal recognition in 1978 and will be able to respond to the BIA's proposed finding before a final determination is issued. Comments are due by November 9.

Historically, it has been difficult for petitioners to reverse a negative proposed finding. But the Mohegan Tribe and the Samish Nation succeeded in 1994 and 1996, respectively.

The Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee petitioner maintains a Facebook page but a different group also claims the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee name.

According to the petitioner's Facebook page, council members held a conference call with the BIA on May 10 -- four days after Roberts signed the proposed finding. When asked about the outcome, someone from tribe replied: "it went fairly well, there are still some things they want which shouldn't be hard to gather up and send them."

Federal Register Notice:
Proposed Finding Against Acknowledgment of the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee, Inc. (May 13, 2016)