indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
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...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: North Dakota takes on impacts of energy boom (1/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux man calls on US to honor its word (1/26)
Steven Newcomb: Supreme Court decision influenced by religion (1/26)
Mateo Romero: Era of white American male rule coming to an end (1/26)
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation mourns passing of Gary Mitchell (1/26)
Editorial: Alaska tribe makes tough decision to banish bad actors (1/26)
Editorial: Battle against Poarch Creek casinos is a waste of time (1/26)
Native Sun News: Montana basketball legend gives back to youth (1/23)
Mark Trahant: Building the new digital economy in Indian Country (1/23)
James Giago Davies: Washington team insults the first Americans (1/23)
Gyasi Ross: Indian Country can't get enough of Seattle Seahawks (1/23)
Jay Daniels: A tribute to Crow basketball legend Elvis D. Old Bull (1/23)
Richard Thornton: People of One Fire exposing forgotten history (1/23)
NARF: Supreme Court decision impacts rights of Indian inmates (1/23)
Oglala Sioux medicine man dies awaiting trial in sex abuse case (1/23)
No charges filed for deaths of two people on Barona Reservation (1/23)
IRS placed $664K in tax liens on leader of Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (1/23)
Yellowstone National Park starts transferring bison for slaughter (1/23)
Fire in 1865 destroyed Smithsonian collection of Indian portraits (1/23)
Turtle Talk: Gaming compact cases are extremely difficult to win (1/23)
Governor rejects Menominee Nation off-reservation gaming plan (1/23)
Otoe-Missouria Tribe reaches agreement with city for new casino (1/23)
Chehalis Tribe to start work on $40M expansion of gaming facility (1/23)
Idaho lawmakers question gaming machines at non-Indian tracks (1/23)
State of Indian Nations as delivered by NCAI President Cladoosby (1/22)
Sen. Barrasso delivers response to NCAI's State of Indian Nations (1/22)
Native Sun News: Tribes step up with donations for cultural center (1/22)
Ivan Star: Indian Country must put more effort in public relations (1/22)
Steven Newcomb: Indian policy is unmistakenly linked to religion (1/22)
Harlan McKosato: Apache woman develops 'indispensible' guide (1/22)
Tristan Ahtone: Former Native gang member tries to start anew (1/22)
Q&A with Chemehuevi artist Cara Romero on 'Last Indian Market' (1/22)
Sainthood for founder of brutal California Indian mission system (1/22)
Native mayor promises to change city's reputation as most racist (1/22)
Deadline passes to appeal Fond du Lac Band land-into-trust case (1/22)
City rejects Citizen Potawatomi Nation land detachment petition (1/22)
Oklahoma lawmakers debate future of unfinished Indian museum (1/22)
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation inaugurates Leland Kinter as chairman (1/22)
City to enter public transportation contract with Mississippi Band (1/22)
Officials in Idaho won't try to find a new name for 'Squaw Butte' (1/22)
Opinion: Blood Run landmark a place of reverence for area tribes (1/22)
Chukchansi Tribe set to run out of money for gaming per capitas (1/22)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe sues BIA over rejected compact (1/22)
Menominee Nation expects fast action from BIA on new compact (1/22)
Some CSKT leaders question $27.4M expansion of gaming facility (1/22)
Narragansett Tribe wins litigation filed by former gaming partner (1/22)
Column: Tribes concerned about commercial casinos in New York (1/22)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe contests uranium expansion (1/21)
Clara Caufield: Run recalls days of horror for Northern Cheyenne (1/21)
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.