On March 26, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk released his final determination in regards to a petition by the Central Band of Cherokee (Petitioner #227) for federal recognition status as an Indian tribe.
Echo Hawk’s final determination found the Lawrenceburg, Tennessee group did not meet the mandatory criteria for acknowledgment under the Code of Federal Regulations according to a Department of the Interior press release.
According to the Band’s website, “the Central Band of Cherokee are the lineal descendants of the Cherokee occupants of the 1806 Congressional Reservation and their families.”
The site goes on to state that the group was recognized by Tennessee in June of 2010 an American Indian Tribe, but it was quickly overturned due to violations of open meeting laws.
According to the release, the main issue revealed at the March 23, ruling and consistent with Echo Hawk’s proposed findings in August of 2010, was that Petitioner #227 “did not demonstrate that its members descend from a historical Indian tribe or historical Indian tribes that combined.”
The petitioner’s claims of descendants was lacking in evidence as its 407 members on its 2007 membership list, showed a group of individuals as a voluntary association that formed around a claim, but did not, have documented Indian ancestry. The group’s emergence in 2000 as the “Cherokees of Lawrence County, TN Sugar Creek Band of the Southeastern Cherokee Confederacy, Inc.,” was the earliest record of them according to the release.
Department of the Interior regulations state it may not acknowledge associations, organizations, corporations, or groups of any character formed in recent times said the press release.
In an August 17, 2010 article by Cherokee One Feather the Bureau of Indian Affairs is quoted as stating, “The readily available public records clearly showed the petitioner’s members do not descend from any Cherokee group or any other Indian tribe. The evidence clearly shows the group’s ancestors were consistently identified as non-Indians, primarily ‘White’ settlers coming to Tennessee in the early and mid-1800s from disparate locations. At no time were they identified as Indians or living in an Indian community.”
The group was unable to change the BIA’s opinion since the 2010 announcement, which led to Echo Hawk’s final determination.
Echo Hawk’s final determination will become final and affective “as provided in the regulations 90 days from publication in the Federal Register, unless a request for reconsideration is received by the Interior Board of Indian Appeals under the procedures set forth in Section 83.11 of the regulations within that time,” according to the release.
To view the final determination and Federal Register notice, visit the Office of Federal Acknowledgment section of the Indian Affairs website here.