indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Senate panel takes a look at federal recognition process
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Filed Under: Politics | Recognition

INDIANZ.COM LISTENING LOUNGE
Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on federal recognition.
Opening Statements | Panel 1 | Q&A

• Written Testimony:
HEARING on the process of federal recognition of Indian tribes (September 19, 2007)
Despite a mounting workload and repeated criticism, the Bush administration has not devoted new resources for federal recognition at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

In September 2002, then-assistant secretary Neal McCaleb released an aggressive plan aimed at speeding up the recognition process. He sought to triple the staff of 11 anthropologists, genealogists and researchers who decide who is and who isn't an Indian tribe.

Exactly five years later, the program looks much the same as it did when it came under fire from members of Congress and the public. While the Office of Federal Acknowledgment has been elevated and its officials have received promotions and raises, there are still just 11 people in charge of more than 200 petitions.

"My own feeling is that the process doesn't work very well at this point," observed Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, at a hearing yesterday.

Dorgan plans to hold a series of hearings into what Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the committee's vice chairman, called a failing of federal Indian policy. "One area that has lagged is the federal recognition process," she said.

Despite those sentiments, which were echoed by other committee members, Congress has failed to implement significant reforms to the process. Numerous proposals to create a commission dedicated solely to federal recognition or to speed up review of certain petitions have never been signed into law.

The lack of action has many tribes clamoring for relief. From the Lumbee of North Carolina to the Little Shell Chippewa of Montana, they are seeking legislative recognition in hopes of avoiding the BIA's slow-moving process, which can take 25 years or more to complete.

Yet Congress is loath to act in these cases as well. The last time a tribe gained legislative recognition was in 2000 but no hearings were ever held on the measure, which was inserted into an "omnibus" Indian bill in the last days of the Clinton administration.

Before that, a group of Michigan tribes and a South Carolina tribe won legislative recognition in the early and mid-1990s. These tribes all went through the hearing and committee review process, a practice that came to a halt after Republicans won control of Congress in 1994.

"We did that before Republicans were elected, and we stopped the process because we saw bypassing the Bureau of Indian Affairs process was corrupting," Rep. Chris Shays (R-Connecticut) said in May when the House considered a bill to recognize six Virginia tribes.

The House ended up passing the bill but it has stalled in the Senate. The House also passed a bill to recognize the Lumbee Tribe, whose unique situation prevents the tribe from going through the BIA process, but the Senate has not taken action on it.

The inaction means tribes are stuck with the BIA. According to the Office of Federal Acknowledgment, there are seven petitions under active consideration and ten more fully documented petitions in the queue.

Most of the seven petitions date from the 1970s, with one from the 1980s. Of the 10 waiting for action, the oldest dates to 1971.

With 243 more petitions not ready for review, it would take the BIA hundreds of years to get through the backlog, assuming the groups followed through. At one point, the Government Accountability Office calculated an average wait of 15 years for a petitioner.

Lee Fleming, the director of the Office of Federal Acknowledgment, said the Bush administration has requested more funds to beef up the program and is considering changes to the recognition process. He didn't disclose how much the Interior Department is seeking but the office's budget has historically been around $900,000.

"I want to find out what you have done as opposed to what you are thinking of doing," Dorgan told Fleming at the hearing.

"I'll be here," Fleming responded.

From the Indianz.Com Archive:
McCaleb delivers aggressive recognition plan (October 3, 2002)

Relevant Documents:
McCaleb Letter | BIA Strategic Plan| GAO Report

Relevant Links:
Senate Indian Affairs Committee - http://indian.senate.gov

Related Stories:
Senate Indian Affairs hearing on federal recognition (9/19)
DOI won't release Cason's performance evaluations (09/14)
Senate Indian Affairs sets hearing on recognition (9/13)
Interior board rejects Nipmuc recognition appeals (09/13)
Editorial: No to legislative recognition of tribes (08/08)
Column: Virginia recognition bill stalled in Senate (07/30)
Burt Lake Band lobbies for legislative recognition (06/19)
House panel takes up land-into-trust, recognition bills (06/14)
Lawmakers urge no vote on Lumbee recognition bill (06/07)
Opinion: Native Hawaiian entity ripe for corruption (06/07)
House vote expected on Lumbee recognition bill (06/06)
Voice of America: Virginia tribes wait on status (05/18)
Bush cites 'terrible cost' of Jamestown on Virginia tribes (05/14)
No rush for Virginia recognition bill in Senate (05/10)
Editorial: Take up Virginia recognition in Senate (05/10)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Oglala Sioux people aren't afraid to say no to easy cash (9/1)
Native Sun News: Release of secret uranium mining data ordered (9/1)
Mark Trahant: It's past time for tribal leaders to govern the nation (9/1)
Jennie Stockle: A safe space for opponents of offensive mascotry (9/1)
John Christian Hopkins: A big thank you to the friend I never met (9/1)
National Museum of the American Indian celebrates 10th birthday (9/1)
Cherokee Nation announces $170M casino and retail development (9/1)
Editorial: Tohono O'odham Nation didn't play by 'rules' with casino (9/1)
Opinion: Gaming good for Eastern Cherokees but not for fellow tribe (9/1)
Opinion: Federal recognition only means more casinos in California (9/1)
Native Sun News: Tribes walk out of contract support cost meeting (8/29)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe spends $2.4M on property (8/29)
Mike Johanns: Retracing steps of great Ponca Chief Standing Bear (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Racist mascot a sign of deeper problems in US (8/29)
Lauren Jones: Affordable Care Act benefits Native Americans too (8/29)
Gila River Indian Community to see $77.6M from Cobell buy-back (8/29)
Energy boom linked to rise in human trafficking in Indian Country (8/29)
Navajo man heads up Native American Homelessness Task Force (8/29)
9th Circuit hears case over Yakama Nation tobacco manufacturer (8/29)
WAER: ICWA matters handled in 'kangaroo courts' in South Dakota (8/29)
MPR: Red Lake Nation opposes liquor license near dry reservation (8/29)
Tule River Tribe helps remove marijuana operation on reservation (8/29)
Omaha Tribe signs agreement with EPA to improve utility services (8/29)
Las Vegas Paiute Tribe rejected 'gift' from NFL team's foundation (8/29)
KPLU: Spokane Tribe maintains close ties with baseball franchise (8/29)
Opinion: HUD loan program a small step to boost Indian housing (8/29)
DNA study finds distinct population of Native people in Arctic area (8/29)
Tribes closely watching Big Lagoon Rancheria casino land dispute (8/29)
Tohono O'odham Nation to build off-reservation casino in phases (8/29)
State questions Forest County Powatatomi Tribe's slot machines (8/29)
Quapaw Tribe eyes local support for commercial casino in Kansas (8/29)
Native Sun News: Police officers who shot Indian teen get medals (8/28)
Cara Cowan Watts: Laying the groundwork for college scholarship (8/28)
Rudolph Ryser: Indigenous nations need leverage to bring change (8/28)
DOI extends $100M in Cobell buy-back offers on two reservations (8/28)
Cobell buy-backs could return over 38K acres to tribe in Montana (8/28)
Five-year-old Navajo boy sent home from school for his long hair (8/28)
Three charged with murder for death of Mississippi Choctaw man (8/28)
Lummi Nation seeks cooperation after ruling in treaty rights case (8/28)
Artist Gregg Deal takes on Indian mascots for performance piece (8/28)
Sports announcer won't use Washington NFL team's name on air (8/28)
Recruiter from Spokane Tribe's college selected for Peirone Prize (8/28)
California tribes support release of water to benefit salmon runs (8/28)
Southern Ute Tribe invests $2B in big energy production system (8/28)
County hires lobbying firm to oppose federal recognition reforms (8/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation breaks ground for off-reservation casino (8/28)
Cherokee Nation starts construction on casino at Indian allotment (8/28)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe responds to opponents in casino suit (8/28)
Jamul Band continues work on $360M casino after victory in court (8/28)
Editorial: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe ups ante in casino feud (8/28)
Ho-Chunk Nation launches outreach effort amid casino expansion (8/28)
Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments over gaming initiative (8/28)
Tim Giago: Greedy lawyers and government ruin Cobell settlement (8/27)
Native Sun News: Facility in Montana set to house Indian inmates (8/27)
Gerald Gipp: National strategy needed to reform Indian education (8/27)
9th Circuit won't stop repatriation of Kumeyaay Nation ancestors (8/27)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation puts youth to work for summer (8/27)
Gabe Galanda: Academia won't tackle tribal disenrollment issue (8/27)
Misty Lynn Ellingburg: 'Four Winds' is a literary magazine for us (8/27)
Declination rates for Indian Country crime steady for third year (8/27)
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.