This proposed rule would update one section of the regulation regarding when Indian students are eligible for benefits of education contracts under the Johnson-O'Malley Act (JOM), to codify past practice and a Federal District Court ruling by deleting the requirement that the Indian student must have 1/4 or more degree of Indian blood.
This rule would revise a section of the regulations governing education contracts under the JOM. The JOM authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to enter into contracts with States, schools, and private organizations, and to expend appropriated funds in support of Indian students under those contracts. See, 25 U.S.C. 254. The regulations at 25 CFR part 273 implement this authority.
This rule would revise section 273.12 of the regulations to correctly reflect the requirements for students eligible for JOM funding. Currently, the regulations state that Indian students are eligible for benefits of a JOM contract if they are of 1/4 or more degree Indian blood and are recognized by the Secretary as being eligible for Bureau services. Prior to the 1990's, the Department implemented this regulation to require 1/4 or more degree Indian blood. In 1990, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada stated that this regulatory requirement was too restrictive. See, Nevada Urban Indians, Inc. v. United States, CV-N-90-238 BRT (September 12, 1990). Since that Court ruling, the Department has implemented this regulatory provision as requiring only membership in a federally recognized Tribe. The Department does not require a certain degree of Indian blood. As such, this rule would delete the requirement for a blood degree quantum. With this deletion, the rule codifies both the Court ruling and past practice.