Opinion | Federal Recognition

Editorial: BIA shouldn't weaken standards for federal recognition

Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn. Photo from Bureau of Indian Affairs

Connecticut newspaper claims the federal recognition process at the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been working for the past 35 years and doesn't need to be reformed:
The Eastern Pequots, the Golden Hill Paugussetts and the Schaghticokes want federal recognition too. That would allow them to cash in on the bonanza. They have been turned down, in part because they couldn't prove that they had existed as distinct cultural and political communities since 1789.

Now, however, one proposal would make the mere existence of a state reservation since 1934 enough to satisfy some of the hardest criteria for federal recognition. All three Connecticut tribes could likely qualify under that relaxed criteria.

Creating new sovereign tribal lands could cloud long-established property titles — the groups are claiming or threatening to claim vast tracts of land as theirs — and could force the state to remove lands from the tax rolls. Plus the federally recognized tribes, as sovereign nations, could build casinos on their reservations, skirting the state law that in 2003 outlawed any more casinos in Connecticut.

None of this is desirable, or necessary. For 35 years, the existing federal recognition process has worked. Under the current system, hundreds of American Indian tribes have been recognized. There's no need to weaken the rules for recognition.

Get the Story:
Editorial: Feds Shouldn't Lower Tribal Recognition Bar (The Hartford Courant 10/4)

Federal Register Notices:
Federal Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes (July 30, 2014)
Federal Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes (May 29, 2014)

Relevant Documents:
Proposed Rule | Press Release | Comparison Chart (comparing current rule to proposed rule) | Response to Comments on June 2013 Discussion Draft | Frequently Asked Questions

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