For many years Congress has told the US Department of the Interior that the Federal recognition process is broken and in need of reform. Last year under the direction of Assistant Secretary Washburn, the Department began working towards that reform. A series of tribal consultations and public forums were held throughout the United States in 2013 asking tribal representatives and interested parties what they would like to see changed.
On May 22, 2014, the Department of Interior released its long-awaited new rules for granting federal recognition to Native American tribes. According to the press release:
"Key features of the proposed rule would promote transparency by updating the Part 83 criteria to include objective standards; promote efficiency by requiring a petitioner to show community and political influence/authority from 1934 to the present rather than from as early as 1789; and eliminate the need for a petitioner to demonstrate that third parties identified the petitioner as a tribe from 1900 to the present. The proposed rule would make changes to the petitioning process that facilitate the timely issuance of proposed findings and final determinations. It would also allow an administrative judge to conduct a comprehensive hearing and review of a negative proposed finding." To read the full press release, click HERE.
In July, the Interior will be holding a series of tribal consultations and public meetings to hear comments related to proposed reform. Tribal consultations are generally only open to leaders of federally recognized tribes; whereas, public meetings are open to everyone.
UHN tribal leaders will be attending the Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at the Paragon Casino and Resort in Marksville, Louisiana. The public meeting will be from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm. Principal Chief Dardar and the Tribal Council encourages citizens who are able to attend to make the meeting. For tribal citizens that plan on attending, please CONTACT US in advance so that we are able to provide additional information.
There are 5 additional locations of public meetings throughout July in the following cities - Portland, OR, Keshena, WI, Brooks, CA, Billings, MT and Mashpee, MA. Additional written comments on the proposed rule are due by August 1, 2014. We know many of you will want to ensure your voice is heard and let the Department of Interior know not only do we have 17,000 citizens, but we have 17,000 proud citizens. Tribal leaders will provide additional guidance following the meeting on the first.
(Photo from left to right: August "Cocoa" Creppel, Tribal Councilman District 8 and Morning Dove Verret Hopkins of Terrytown)