In June of 2013, The Department of the Interiors Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs issued a Discussion Draft proposing revisions to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) process for federal acknowledgment of Indian Tribes (25 CFR Part 83).
The State of Connecticut disagreed with Assistant Secretary Kevin K. Washburn proposed new rule changes in a letter sent from Governor Malloy dated February 24, 2014. Accompanying his letter was a three page explanation of the state’s opposition to the recognition of tribes by requiring that all involved third parties consent to a tribe’s application regardless of the historical facts that support the tribe’s petition for recognition (see Governor Malloy’s letter to President Obama).
On May 22, 2014, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn announced publication of the proposed regulations. As part of the revisions made in the proposed regulations, the US government is attempting to block the recognition of tribes by requiring that all involved third parties consent to a tribe’s application regardless of the historical facts that support the tribe’s petition for recognition.
On May 27, 2014, Chief Velky commended Assistant Secretary Washburn in putting forth the new rule changes (see Chief Velky’s letter to Assistant Secretary Washburn). While objecting to a third party veto power over a tribe’s effort to repetition for federal acknowledgement, he believes the new rule changes do not comport with the due process and equal protection principles of our Constitution. Chief Velky believes the Constitution does not provide for a state or its political subdivisions to exercise an absolute veto over the exercise of the constitutional authority.
On July 29, 2014, a public comment session was held at the Mashpee Reservation in Massachusetts in which tribal leaders voiced their opinions regarding the discussion draft for proposed revisions to the BIA process for federal recognition of Indian tribes (25 CFR Part 83). Video recordings of Chief Velky and Anthropologist Steve Austin can be viewed in the Press and Media tab.