HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 20Issue 26Department of Interior Nears End of Federal Recognition Comment Period

On Wednesday, September 3 and Friday, September 5, 2014, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”) held conference calls to receive and address comments related to its current proposed rulemaking for 205 CFR 83, the federal regulation governing the federal recognition process for Native American tribes. Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”), federal recognition is a key component for Native American tribes seeking to develop tribal gaming properties.

On July 25, 2014, the US Department of the Interior (“DOI”), the parent agency of the BIA, issued a press release noting that it had extended the comment period for proposed changes to 205 CFR 83 due to its receipt of numerous comments and public interest in the proposed changes. Written comments will now be accepted until September 30, 2014.

The proposed changes would reduce and/or streamline many of the requirements for tribes seeking federal recognition. For example, under prior practice, documentation was required to be provided proving that a tribe showing “community and political authority…[from the] time of first sustained contact with non-Indians or 1789.” The proposed changes would amend this look back period to 1934, the year that the Indian Regulatory Act was passed into law that establishes the recognition process, a change which the BIA states “will reduce the documentary burden on the Department, and will avoid potential problems with locating historical records while maintaining the integrity of the process.” Other changes include the removal of certain documentary evidence requirements, bring the regulations into line with current BIA policies and procedures, and establish more objective or transparent review policies.

Last week’s calls were made to further clarify portions of the rules and to respond to public questions. During Friday’s call, Mr. Larry Roberts, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the BIA, noted that “over the years, many have criticized the process as broken and some of the criticisms that the department has heard is that it takes too long, that its burdensome and its expensive, that its unpredictable and that it’s not transparent.” The regulatory changes seek to address these concerns, as well as to make the process more modern and efficient.

For more information on the proposed changes to 205 CMR 83, please visit the BIA’s website at: http://www.bia.gov/


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