No movement on reform of federal recognition process at BIA

Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Photo from Twitter

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has finalized Part 83 reforms to the federal recognition process but it's still anyone's guess when they will be made public.

The changes were submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget two weeks ago. Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn later told a House Subcommittee Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs that the reforms were "conservative" in nature due to concerns raised by tribes, states and other interested parties.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Oversight Hearing on The Obama Administration’s Part 83 Revisions and How They May Allow the Interior Department to Create Tribes, not Recognize Them

The Part 83 reforms offered two changes that generated significant controversy. One is that petitioning groups only have to provide documents dating back to 1934 as opposed to time of first contact.

The proposal also allows groups that already went through the process to apply again. But interested parties would have been able to object, something that may make it impossible for certain tribes to submit another petition.

It's not clear whether those provisions made it into the final rule but Washburn hinted that the second one was not included. Nothing has appeared in the Federal Register so far.

Some critics of the BIA are already threatening litigation if they disagree with the rule.

Get the Story:
Mullane, Blumenthal hopeful proposed tribal recognition rule changes will get a "fair look" (The New London Day 5/4)
Local tribes continue fight for federal recognition (The Houma Courier 5/3)

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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