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American Indians and Alaska Natives - Federal Recognition
Published: March 19, 2014
- 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.