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American Indians and Alaska Natives - Federal Recognition

Published: March 19, 2014
Audience:
All
Types:
Fact Sheet
Tags:
AI/AN
  • Historically, most of today’s federally recognized tribes received federal recognition status through treaties, acts of Congress, presidential executive orders or other federal administrative actions, or federal court decisions.
  • In 1978, the Interior Department issued regulations governing the Federal Acknowledgment Process (FAP) to handle, in a uniform manner, requests for federal recognition from Indian groups whose character and history varied widely.  These regulations – 25 C.F.R. Part 83 – were revised in 1994 and are still in effect.
  • Also in 1994, Congress enacted Public Law 103-454, the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act (108 Stat. 4791, 4792), which formally established three ways in which an Indian group may become federally recognized:
    • By Act of Congress,
    • By the administrative procedures under 25 C.F.R. Part 83, or
    • By decision of a United States court.
  • A tribe whose relationship with the United States has been expressly terminated by Congress may not use the Federal Acknowledgment Process.  Only Congress can restore federal recognition to a “terminated” tribe. 
  • The Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act also requires the Secretary of the Interior to publish annually a list of the federally recognized tribes in the Federal Register.  The most recent list was published on May 6, 2013.  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-06/pdf/2013-10649.pdf
  • A non-federally recognized tribe has no relationship with the United States, except where a relationship is created under a particular statute as is the case the ANA’s Native American Programs Act where non-federally recognized tribes, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are eligible for federal assistance.