McCaleb affirms recognition of Cowlitz Tribe
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The Bush administration has affirmed the federal recognition of the Cowlitz Tribe of Washington, closing one of the longest running and most contentious battles in the history of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

In a Federal Register notice to be published tomorrow, Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb announces the decision, which will become final in 90 days. It was made after a several month review by McCaleb, who considered a number of issues referred to him by Secretary of Interior Gale Norton.

But the issues, according to BIA spokesperson Nedra Darling, did not have an impact on the tribe's status. A final determination of federal acknowledgment signed by former Assistant Secretary Kevin Gover in February 2000 will stand, she said.

For the tribe, McCaleb's action represents a major victory in a long and storied history. The tribe filed for recognition in 1978 but has faced numerous challenges by the Quinault Nation, a federally recognized tribe in Washington.

The debate became so heated over the years that a formal meeting, the first of its kind, was held to discuss the status of the Cowlitz Tribe. Reams of documentation filed by the Quinault Nation overwhelmed the BIA, contributing to Gover's decision to try and speed up the slow-moving process.

That didn't stop the Quinault from trying to derail the Cowlitz recognition, however. When the Bush administration took over in January, the tribe asked Norton to rescind Gover's 2000 decision.

Norton declined so the tribe sought review by the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA), which referred three issues to Norton in late May. When McCaleb joined the Interior in July, he took over the case, along with others that remain in limbo.

One of those, the Chinook Nation of Washington, is also being challenged by the Quinault. Last November, McCaleb agreed to reconsider the Chinook's status and will make a ruling this spring.

Relevant Links:
The Cowlitz Tribe -
Cowlitz Tribe v. Quinault Nation, by the Cowlitz Tribe -
Branch of Acknowledgment and Research -

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Gover: Recognition study 'cooked' (11/1)
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