National | Federal Recognition

BIA seeks comments about organization of California tribe

A view of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation in California. Photo from

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is asking the public about the organization of a new tribe in California.

The Pinoleville Pomo Nation is already on the list of federally-recognized tribes. But a group of people on the reservation want to organize under the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act.

"The BIA Pacific Regional Director has received a request for an administrative determination as to whether the requesting group of people is eligible to organize as a tribe under IRA," the agency said in a notice that will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday.

Tribes can secure federal recognition in a number of ways -- the BIA's administrative process or an act of Congress have been the most common methods in the last 40 years. But the IRA, which became law in 1934, also authorizes a process for groups of people of at least "one-half or more" Indian blood to organize as a tribe.

The Tejon Tribe and the Jamul Indian Village, both in California, each organized as a "community of half-bloods" by citing the law. The Tejon Tribe was placed on the list of federally-recognized entities by the Obama administration while the Jamul Indian Village organized in 1981.

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The group from the Pinoleville Pomo Nation has been trying to organize as far back as 2008, according to a complaint filed in Allen v. USA. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case in March 2014 but never issued a decision after the parties agreed to dismiss.

The BIA agreed to publish Thursday's notice as part of a settlement with the plaintiffs. Comments are due within 60 days of publication.

Forthcoming Federal Register Notice:
Whether A Group Asserting Residency on the Pinoleville Rancheria is Eligible to Organize as a Tribe under the Indian Reorganization Act (To Be Published May 12, 2015)

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