Federal Register

This proposed rule would revise regulations governing the process and criteria by which the Secretary acknowledges an Indian tribe. The revisions seek to make the process and criteria more transparent, promote consistent implementation, and increase timeliness and efficiency, while maintaining the integrity of the process. The current process has been criticized as “broken” or in need of reform. Specifically, the process has been criticized as too slow (a petition can take decades to be decided), expensive, burdensome, inefficient, intrusive, less than transparent and unpredictable. The proposed rule would reform the process by, among other things, institutionalizing a phased review that allows for faster decisions; reducing the documentary burden; allowing for a hearing on the proposed finding to promote transparency and process integrity; establishing the Assistant Secretary's final determination as final for the Department to promote efficiency; and establishing objective standards, where appropriate, to ensure transparency and predictability. This publication also announces the dates and locations for tribal consultation sessions and public meetings on this proposed rule.