Friday, November 21, 2014 | Updated at 9:36 PM ET

LATEST NEWS

Federal Recognition Rule Changes for Native American Tribes Could Mean More Business Opportunities

  • Print
  • E-mail
First Posted: May 26, 2014 10:26 PM EDT
Native American Tribes
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 22: Native Americans from various tribes work together to erect a large tepee as part of a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on the National Mall April 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. As part of its 'Reject and Protect' protest, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance is organizing a weeklong series of actions by farmers, ranchers and tribes to show their opposition to the pipeline. (Photo : Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On Thursday, the U.S. Interior Department announced its proposed changes to the nation's rules on federally recognizing American Indian tribes.

The revisions to the rules could give some groups easier access to more benefits and opportunities for commercial development, The Washington Post reported.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which made changes to the rules of tribal acknowledgement, said it did so to improve transparency and efficiency.

The last time any overhaul was proposed to the recognition process came two decades ago. The current process has been under harsh criticism for being slow, inconsistent and susceptible to political influence, according to The Post.

Share This Story

Like Us on Facebook

Last summer, meetings were held throughout the nation by the Interior Department regarding the draft proposal. The public will have at least 60 days to comment on the matter before the changes are implemented.

One change that was proposed in a draft last June and drew criticism was, instead of requiring tribes to prove political authority since "historical times," they only need to demonstrate continuity since 1934.

Indian Affairs Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn told The Post that 1934 was chosen because that was when Congress recognized 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.

There are currently 566 American tribes that are federally recognized, with its tribal members receiving health and education benefits as well as land protections. The federal recognition also provides opportunities for development of casinos and other projects.

Other changes require that 80 percent of the group's membership be descendants from a tribe that existed in historical times while 30 percent of a tribe's members need to represent the community.

Other groups that may have been previously denied recognition would get a chance to apply for recognition again.

Connecticut officials including Gov. Dan Malloy and the state's congressional delegation have been staunch supporters to recognition reform. They argue that three groups residing in the state but narrowly missing the cut for recognition could benefit by being able to open up casinos.

The changes are necessary "to ensure that Connecticut's interests are protected," Malloy and the delegation said in a joint statement Thursday.

© 2014 Latin Post. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
  • Print
  • E-mail

Join the Conversation

Subscribe to LatinPost!

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter for the latest in-depth coverage!

Real Time Analytics