Editorial: Fix broken federal recognition at BIA
"Technically, the Little Shell Indian Tribe of Montana asked for federal recognition in 1978, the same year the U.S. Department of Interior adopted regulations governing the Federal Acknowledgement Process.

But tribal elders say their fight to regain status in the U.S. government’s eyes began in 1892, when federal recognition was withdrawn because Chief Little Shell wouldn’t sell reservation land to the government.

Even setting aside the historical record, 31 years is a long time to be left hanging over a question about your status as a sovereign entity – a status 564 tribes now enjoy but hundreds more seek.

The Little Shells’ wait ended Tuesday with Interior’s decision to turn down the tribe’s application for recognition. As a result, some 4,300 scattered members continue to be denied health and housing assistance that is available to Native Americans.

The tribe has two other options. They could challenge the ruling in court, or they could turn to Congress. Like southwest Washington’s Chinook Tribe, which also was turned down by the Department of Interior, the Little Shells are now counting on their state’s congressional delegation to restore their federal standing by law.

That route is not assured of success, and it may not be fast, but it’s likely to be downright swift compared with the Department of Interior’s notoriously plodding process."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Tribal recognition process too cumbersome (The Spokesman Review 10/29)

Indian Tribal Federal Recognition Administrative Procedures Act:
H.R. 3690

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