Rep. Don Young
(R-Alaska), the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs
, plans to call another hearing on federal recognition in order to get the views of the Obama administration.
Young asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to testify at a hearing yesterday but he declined. No one else from the Interior Department
or the Bureau of Indian Affairs
"The only explanation given to my staff was that every department official capable of testifying on recognition has a scheduling conflict," Young observed. "I cannot accept this as a valid excuse."
"The department's failure to appear and answer questions strongly suggests there is something the Secretary wants to hide," Young added.
Facing political pressure from states and some members of Congress, the Bush administration considered reform of the federal recognition one of its priorities.
The BIA made some changes in regulations, staffing and organization during those years, which included the establishment of the Office of Federal Acknowledgment
to report directly to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.
The Obama administration so far has taken a more relaxed approach. Although the BIA shifted its stance on federal recognition bills in Congress, the agency hasn't announced any major changes to its regulatory process.
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan
Mexico), the new ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, however, said the Obama administration is indeed looking at the regulations.
But since no one from the BIA was at the hearing, there were no further details.
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