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Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: Oversight Hearing on Fixing the Federal Acknowledgment Process


Patty Ferguson-Bohnee


Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

November 4, 2009


Abstract:     
The Federal Acknowledgment Process provides one avenue for an unrecognized tribe to obtain federal status as a tribe eligible to receive services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA"). Other avenues include federal court recognition and congressional legislation. In the 1970s, the Department of Interior ("DOI" or "Department") identified that there were an increased number of tribes seeking to clarify their federal status and that it needed to implement a process to address these requests; this resulted in the creation of what is now referred to as the Federal Acknowledgment Process ("FAP"). Since its inception in 1978, only forty-five tribes have completed the FAP.

This analysis includes an overview of the American Indian Policy Review Commission's examination of unrecognized tribes and the development of the FAP. The analysis then focuses on four issues hindering the process: increased burdens, timeliness, lack of resources, and lack of transparency. The analysis also includes a review of legislative proposals addressing these four issues with the FAP. The final section of the analysis includes recommendations for improving the recognition process.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

Keywords: Federal Acknowledgement Process, Recognition, Indian

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Date posted: May 25, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Ferguson-Bohnee, Patty, Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: Oversight Hearing on Fixing the Federal Acknowledgment Process (November 4, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1846965 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1846965

Contact Information

Patty Ferguson-Bohnee (Contact Author)
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )
Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
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