Reform of the regulatory process by which the Department of the Interior officially recognizes Indian tribes moved another step closer today with the release of a final rule.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn made the announcement regarding a process that will promote more transparency for a timely and consistent process, while being flexible enough to account for the unique histories of tribal communities, while maintaining the integrity of criteria in place for nearly 40 years.
“Since the beginning of President Obama’s Administration, the Department has worked with tribal and government leaders on improving the federal acknowledgment process, which has been criticized as inconsistent, slow and expensive,” Secretary Jewell said in an Interior release. “This Administration takes very seriously its important trust and treaty responsibilities to Native Americans and Alaska Natives. This updated process for important tribal recognition makes good on a promise to clarify, expedite and honor a meaningful process for federal acknowledgment to our First Americans.”
Washburn said in the release, “This updated rule is the product of extraordinary input from tribal leaders, states, local governments and the public. We have a responsibility to recognize those tribes that have maintained their identity and self-governance despite previous federal policies expressly aimed at destroying tribes. This new process remains rigorous, but it promotes timely decision-making through expedited processes and increases transparency by posting all publically available petition materials online so that stakeholders are well-informed at each stage of the process. Many of these improvements came from public comments by stakeholders and we are grateful for their guidance.”
ICTMN will post an in-depth report on the final rule soon.