Home > News > More Headlines > Sweeping recognition reform bill offered
Printer friendly version
Sweeping recognition reform bill offered

The leaders of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee introduced a bipartisan measure this week to reform federal recognition but unlike earlier proposals, the bill doesn't strip the Bureau of Indian Affairs of its role in the controversial process.

Instead, Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) want the BIA to establish a review and advisory board to help out when thorny disputes arise, as they have in recent years. This still conflicts with efforts currently underway to elevate the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (BAR) to its own office.

But the bill addresses a key sticking point of former assistant secretary Neal McCaleb. Although his predecessor, Kevin Gover, backed Campbell's earlier attempt to strip the BIA of its recognition duties, he opposed such a move.

"Notwithstanding the instances of failure at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, I think it is still the most sensitive and aware agency within the United States government," he told Campbell back in June 2001.

In introducing the Federal Acknowledgment Process Reform Act on Tuesday, Campbell said it addresses "criticisms of the FAP by increasing the transparency, consistency and integrity of the process, and at the same time removes some of the bureaucratic hurdles that have caused the process to be too costly and time-consuming."

The review board, he said, will give credibility to federal recognition decisions. Composed of nine independent experts in anthropology, genealogy, law and history, the BIA can call upon them to resolve complex issues. With the exception of the historian, all are required to have doctorates in their field.

"The board will give the Assistant Secretary greater assurance in the soundness of his determination, and will provide a more solid foundation for any later appellate review," Campbell said.

Gover, a presidential appointee, was criticized for not always agreeing with BIA researchers who evaluate evidence by groups seeking federal status. In six separate instances, he determined that the tribes were deserving, despite holes in the historical record.

The bill affirms the right of the assistant secretary to overrule the researchers. Campbell last year asked the Department of Interior's attorneys to clarify that power.

Beyond the review board, the bill makes other significant changes. Appeals of recognition decisions would head straight to court instead of the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA).

The BIA will not be required to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests until a petitioner has submitted all paperwork and evidence. The bill authorizes the Department of Justice to assist in dissemination of public information and appropriates a total of $5 million over four years.

The BIA's fiscal year 2004 budget requests about $900,000 to carry out its recognition duties. The Campbell-Inouye bill beefs this up to $5 million a year from 2004 through 2013.

According to Teresa Rosier, the counselor to acting assistant secretary Aurene Martin, the Bush administration hasn't reviewed the bill yet. It was brought up at the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) meeting in suburban Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Get the Bill:
Federal Acknowledgment Process Reform Act of 2003 (S.297)

Related Stories:
At BIA, no recognition of new tribes (2/5)
Trust programs see historic increase (2/4)
Troubled Indian programs prompt GAO criticism (01/31)
BIA recognition still hard to prove for some (01/22)
McCaleb latest in long line of DOI departures (11/25)
McCaleb changed, yes, but little else did (11/22)
McCaleb delivers aggressive recognition plan (10/03)
BIA role in recognition decisions under review (06/13)
Dropping performance blamed on weak leadership (04/08)
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)
Gover: Recognition study 'cooked' (11/1)
Reforming federal recognition (10/26)
Gover takes on recognition (10/25)
McCaleb to listen 'closely' to recognition experts (8/9)
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)
BIA has small goal for big problem (5/22)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Native Sun News: Tribal member speaks out against fracking (11/27)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud mothers address meth issues (11/27)
Tim Giago: Walk a mile in the moccasins of Native Americans (11/27)
Vince Two Eagles: Focus on being thankful this holiday season (11/27)
Native Sun News: Keystone fighters celebrate permit's defeat (11/27)
Kevin Leecy: Tribes remain a vital segment of our community (11/27)
Steven Newcomb: Even media treats our nations as 'nothing' (11/27)
Ray Cook: Thanksgiving flies in the face of original Americans (11/27)
Terese Mailhot: Racism prevails in American popular culture (11/27)
Ilya Somin: Persistent 'myth' justified taking of Indian lands (11/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community sued for same-sex marriage ban (11/27)
Cahuilla Band celebrates new travel center at gaming facility (11/27)
Opinion: Don't break promise to Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (11/27)
Native Sun News: Family questions FBI on reservation death (11/25)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Oneida Nation opens first branch location of tribal-owned bank (11/25)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
Poarch Band to welcome visitors to $65M expansion at casino (11/25)
Stillaguamish Tribe debuts eatery and microbrewery at casino (11/25)
Connecticut tribes consider proposals for third gaming facilty (11/25)
Mark Pilarski: Why are games different at some tribal casinos? (11/25)
Tribes seek support for Native language instruction programs (11/24)
Rep. Mullin confirms divisions in Indian Country on Carcieri fix (11/24)
President Obama to award Medal of Freedom to Billy Frank Jr. (11/24)
Sault Tribe pushes for passage of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (11/24)
Lakota Country Times: Charles Trimble recognized for writings (11/24)
Native Sun News Editorial: Some new names in Indian Country (11/24)
Jim Kent: South Dakota lands in the news again for corruption (11/24)
John Yellowbird Steele: Bill tries to hijack recognition process (11/24)
Albert Bender: 'The Green Inferno' hits new low in racist films (11/24)
Peter d'Errico: Anti-Indian wars continue in US Supreme Court (11/24)
Anne Keala Kelly: US government wants to steal Hawaii again (11/24)
Counties ask Supreme Court to hear Ute Tribe boundary case (11/24)
Shinnecock Nation considers entering medical marijuana field (11/24)
more headlines...


Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.