Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Acknowledgement Process

Acknowledgment Process under invesitgation
The Secretary of the Interior has delegated authority to make acknowledgment decisions to the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs.

Two months after the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation received federal recognition in 2004, then-Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton attended a meeting where she was told to reverse the tribe's federal status, court documents have revealed. Norton's and Cason were questioned under oath by the tribe's attorneys.

Cason said that he based the recognition reversal ''entirely on the recommendation and advice of OFA Director, Lee Fleming,'' given at a meeting held on Oct. 5, 2005. Schaghticoke decision would set a BIA precedent and be of historic importance.

The General Accounting Office was tasked with auditing the dysfunctional recognition process of the BIA. In November of 2001 the General Accounting Office evaluated the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) tribal recognition process.

Findings delineate a process that is subject to manipulation and abuse. Basis for BIA is tribal recognition decisions is not always clear. No clear guidance to explain how to interpret key aspects of the criteria. Level of evidence for sufficiency to prove tribes continuous existence over a period resulting in less regulatory certainty about the basis for recognition decisions. This is a main concern of the Virginia Tribes.

The BIA website as well as the BIA mail servers have been made temporarily unavailable due to the Cobell Litigation. Please continue to check from time to time. We have no estimate on when authorization will be given to reactivate these sites.

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