07/31/13

Discussion Draft – Chief Velky BIA Comments

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.

07/29/13

White House Council on Native American Affairs Begins Implementing President’s National Policy Initiatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today convened the inaugural meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, launching President Obama’s national policy initiative to make federal agencies work more collaboratively and effectively with federally recognized tribes to advance their vital economic and social priorities.

“Today’s meeting underscores President Obama’s commitment to build effective partnerships with American Indian and Alaska Native communities and make the federal government work more efficiently to find solutions to the challenges facing Indian Country,” said Jewell. “I am honored to play a role in the President’s initiative to maximize federal efforts to support the tribes as they tackle pressing issues, such as educational achievement and economic development. The federal government’s unique trust relationship with tribes as well as the Nation’s legal and treaty obligations call for a priority effort to promote prosperous and resilient communities.”

Today’s discussions focused on initial efforts to implement President Obama’s executive order that established the White House Council on Native American Affairs. Joining Secretary Jewell at the White House meeting were Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Muñoz, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The Council, which includes more than 30 federal departments and agencies, coordinates the Administration’s engagement with tribal governments and works across executive departments, agencies and offices to develop policy recommendations and expand efforts to leverage federal programs and resources available to tribal communities.

The Council, which will meet at least three times a year, will focus its efforts on advancing five priorities that mirror the issues tribal leaders have raised during previous White House Tribal Nations Conferences:

1) promoting sustainable economic development;
2) supporting greater access to and control over healthcare;
3) improving the effectiveness and efficiency of tribal justice systems;
4) expanding and improving educational opportunities for Native American youth; and
5) protecting and supporting the sustainable management of Native lands, environments, and natural resources.

The Executive Order that established the Council also institutionalized the White House Tribal Nation Conference as an annual event. Held each year since the President came into office, the conferences have brought together leaders from all federally recognized tribes with Cabinet members and senior Administration officials.  President Obama has hosted the conference four times since 2009.

The President’s national policy initiative advances his Administration’s concerted efforts to restore and heal relations with Native Americans and strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship between the United States and tribal governments, bolstering the federal policies of self-determination and self-governance that will help American Indian and Alaska Native leaders build and sustain their own communities.

Pictures from today’s meeting are available here.

07/19/13

Blumenthal Stirs Opposition to Federal Recognition – Again

By Gale Courey Toensing

It didn’t take long for the Connecticut official who was once called “the enemy of Indian country” to start stirring up opposition to proposed revisions to the federal acknowledgment process.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal organized a meeting in his Connecticut office on July 9 office to rouse local and state officials into fighting a “Preliminary Discussion Draft” of potential changes to the federal acknowledgment regulations. The draft was released just two weeks earlier by Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn. It was enthusiastically received by tribal leaders and others at the National Congress of American Indian’s Federal Recognition Task Force during the organizations’ mid-year conference in Reno, Nevada, at the end of June.

The news that Blumenthal was working to undermine Washburn’s proposal was announced in a newspaper report datelined Kent, Connecticut, where the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has a 400-acre reservation and a pending land claim under the 1790 Indian Trade and Nonintercourse Act for some 2,000-plus acres, including hundreds of acres used by Kent School, a private prep school. “Town, school gird for fight: Legal battle looms on tribal recognition,” in the Republican American reported on a Kent Board of Selectmen’s meeting July 2 when First Selectman Bruce Adams shared a three-page document called “Talking Points – Proposal Will Change BIA Rules and Award Federal Tribal Status to Previously Denied Tribal Groups in CT” and announced he would attend a meeting the next week at Blumenthal’s office to discuss the proposed changes to the federal acknowledgment process…

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/19/blumenthal-stirs-opposition-federal-recognition-again-150496