Updated design federal recognition of tribes 6.19.12
How Your Tribe Can Succeed in Completing the Federal Acknowledgement Process
Federally recognized tribal governments possess a measure of sovereignty. Non-recognized tribes can form tribal organizations but lack sovereign powers. Federally acknowledged tribes can have their reservation lands placed in trust. This means that their land is protected by the federal government from being purchased or taken by non-Indians. Federally recognized tribes have a “trust relationship “with the government. This means that the federal authorities will protect their sovereign status, their lands and tribal property, and their rights as members of domestic dependent nations. Federal recognition means that the United States government recognizes the right of an Indian tribe to exist as a sovereign entity, which means the right of a group to be self- governing. Federally acknowledged tribes are eligible for federal health care and education funding through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Federally recognized tribes also have access to grants and housing. Federally recognized tribes provide a secure future for their posterity: “…my children wont have to fight for what is rightfully theirs…” - Josephine Smith of the Shinnecocks of Southampton Tribe.
A Tribe must fulfill seven specific criteria to the satisfaction of the BIA: (1) The Tribe has been identified as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900. (2) A predominant portion of the Tribe comprises a distinct community and has existed as a community from historical times until the present. (3) The Tribe has maintained political influence or authority over its members as an autonomous entity from historical times until the present. (4) The Tribe must provide a copy of its present governing documents and membership criteria. (5) The Tribe’s membership consists of individuals who descend from a historical Indian tribe or tribes, which combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity. (6) The membership of the Tribe is composed principally of persons who are not members of any acknowledged North American Indian Tribe. (7) Neither the Tribe nor its members are the subject of congressional legislation that has expressly terminated or forbidden recognition.
Satisfying the seven criteria is a great burden. Organizing and maintaining coordinated recognition process efforts is overwhelming and expensive. If the process is not overseen by an expert, with a specific timeline for completion, the process can unnecessarily drag on for years and cost a Tribe millions of dollars. Improper fulfillment of the seven criteria. If a Tribe initially submits, then continues to submit incomplete, inaccurate or unsubstantiated petitions or thin, unsupported Letters of Intent, the Tribe’s petition will soon lose all credibility and be officially declined with no way to petition for Federal recognition again. Past U.S. Policies set the Tribes up to fail. Historical policies and actions of the U.S. government were specifically designed to eliminate the authority and consistency the Tribe is now required to prove. The Federal government must protect it’s self interests. There have been instances that have called into question the ability of the federal government to objectively analyze a Tribe’s petition. There is no inter-tribal support system for achieving Federal Recognition. Some of the strongest opposition to the federal recognition of a given Tribe often comes from other Tribes. Tribes that are presently Federally recognized want to protect their Federal funding benefits and future potential growth. Tribes can be taken advantage of by those who have self serving motives. Tribes who are seeking Federal recognition have no true agent to turn to. The Federal government only has to provide the criteria a Tribe has to fulfill, not the support. Other Federally recognized tribes are not extending support either. A Tribe who is seeking Federal Recognition is usually left to themselves and can fall prey to those who would take advantage of their inexperience with fulfilling the seven criteria.
Lawyers? NO! No legal language, legal expertise or lawyer’s involvement is necessary to fulfill the seven criteria or to successfully submit a Letter of Intent or any other Tribal documentation. Anthropologists? No! Anthropology considers how peoples behaviors changes over time, and how people and seemingly dissimilar cultures are different and the same. This will NOT satisfy the seven criteria for Federal recognition. Archaeologists? No! Discovering, processing, analyzing and submitting bones or pottery samples will not satisfy the seven criteria. Inexperienced Genealogists? No! Presenting the right documents, will require an expert genealogist’s investigative experience. A novice will not be able to produce or track down the documentation needed for the seven criteria.
We have expert experience to provide the necessary evidence if your Tribe: Has been identified as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900. (FAP Criteria 1) Is comprised of a distinct community and has existed as a community from historical times until the present. (FAP Criteria 2) Has maintained political influence or authority over its members as an autonomous entity from historical times until the present. (FAP Criteria 3) Consists of individuals who descend from a historical Indian tribe or tribes, which combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity. (FAP Criteria 5) Is composed principally of persons who are not members of any acknowledged North American Indian Tribe. (FAP Criteria 6)
Five of the seven criteria will be met by American Ancestors on-site teamof genealogists, writers and recording members. This is part of AmericanAncestors Federal recognition plan, with a completion timeline of twoyears.As part of American Ancestors Federal Recognition services, FAP Criteria4, where the Tribe provides a copy of its present governing documentsand membership criteria, will be organized and formally written up forthe Tribe by American Ancestors.The only obstacle to completing the seven criteria that AmericanAncestors cannot overcome is if a tribe has been the subject ofcongressional legislation that has expressly terminated or forbiddenrecognition.