indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
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...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Author brings Lakota heritage to stewardship (4/27)
Lakota Country Times: Cobell scholarship fund being put to use (4/27)
Gabe Galanda: Even Hollywood is taking on tribal disenrollment (4/27)
Steve Russell: Same-sex marriage back before Supreme Court (4/27)
Terese Mailhot: The epidemic of early death on the reservation (4/27)
Jean-Luc Pierite: School makes bad choice with fake headdress (4/27)
Peter d'Errico: Pope fails to address genocide of Native peoples (4/27)
Choctaw Nation citizens slam Vanilla Ice's shaky ancestry claim (4/27)
Youth of Hoopa Valley Tribe speak out against marijuana grows (4/27)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe might be interested in growing hemp (4/27)
Sparring continues in Wind River Reservation jurisdictional feud (4/27)
Oneida Nation faces questions over land-into-trust acquisitions (4/27)
Opinion: Deadline approaches in Alaska land-into-trust dispute (4/27)
Editorial: States need help dealing with newly recognized tribes (4/27)
Last defendant to be sentenced for Choctaw Nation casino fraud (4/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on labor measure (4/27)
Senate panel takes up bill to halt Tohono O'odham Nation casino (4/27)
Tiny Alturas Rancheria runs casino but can't agree on much else (4/27)
Dennis Whittlesey: Texas tribes are pawns in much larger game (4/27)
White House to host first-ever Native youth conference on July 9 (4/24)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe fires casino manager (4/24)
Lakota Country Times: Timothy Standing Soldier passes on at 54 (4/24)
Mark Trahant: Invest in our Native youth for long-term success (4/24)
James Giago Davies: True believerism and comic book solutions (4/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Oglala Sioux Tribe must act on legal marijuana (4/24)
Ed Rice: Cleveland team comes up with excuse for racist mascot (4/24)
White House Blog: Recognizing tribal Climate Action Champions (4/24)
House subcommittee looks at poor conditions at Indian schools (4/24)
Navajo actress was put in darker makeup for Adam Sandler film (4/24)
Eastern Cherokee group plans lawsuit over tribal council raises (4/24)
Column: Commission takes on truth and reconciliation in Maine (4/24)
Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch as next attorney general (4/24)
ICT interview with confirmed NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri (4/24)
Dave Palermo: Tribes in California assert right to Internet poker (4/24)
Pokagon Band casino remains a concern for Indiana lawmakers (4/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo places casino manager on administrative leave (4/24)
White Earth Nation promotes tribal members in casino positions (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux student vies for Miss Indian World (4/23)
Lakota Country Times: Tribal citizens named to education board (4/23)
Ivan Star: Struggling with the warrior heritage in Indian Country (4/23)
Dana Lone Elk: Lakota people still carry on fight of Crazy Horse (4/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes bill to renew NAHASDA (4/23)
BIA faces fire over latest reforms to federal recognition process (4/23)
Opinion: First Lady brings truth with remarks about Native youth (4/23)
Incoming leader of Navajo Nation stresses importance of youth (4/23)
Native actors storm off set of Adam Sandler film in New Mexico (4/23)
Marijuana seen as new frontier in tribal economic development (4/23)
Senate approves anti-trafficking measure with tribal provisions (4/23)
Interview with Gyasi Ross about spoken word release Isskootsik (4/23)
Blackfeet Nation launches campaign to ban drilling at sacred site (4/23)
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.