Easier to Get Federally Recognized?

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown June 19th, 2014 Last Updated on: June 19th, 2014

Currently there are 566 tribes in the United States that are federally recognized. That could change if proposed new rules are put into place. The Washington Post reported that there could be some changes coming to the stagnant rules that grant federal recognition to Native American tribes. These revisions could make it easier for some to achieve status that brings increased benefits as well as opportunities for commercial development.

The changes include a requirement that tribes demonstrate political authority since 1934, where they previously had to show continuity from “historical times.” That change was first proposed in a draft last June and stirred criticism that the standards for recognition were being watered down.

Kevin Washburn, an assistant secretary with Indian Affairs, said the rules are no less rigorous. He said 1934 was chosen as a dividing line because that was the year Congress accepted the existence of tribes as political entities.

“The proposed rule would slightly modify criteria to make it more consistent with the way we’ve been applying the criteria in the past,” Washburn said in an interview.

Gerald Gray, chairman of Montana’s Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, said the change offers the path to recognition that his people have sought for decades.

The landless tribe of about 4,500 members has been recognized by Montana since 2000, but its bid for federal recognition was rejected in 2009 partly because the tribe could not document continuity through the early part of the 20th century. Gray said the denial illustrated how the process is broken.

To read more on the story please visit The Washington Post.

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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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