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Bipartisan Congressional Leaders Urge Interior to Refrain on Tribal Status Modifications

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 26, 2015 - House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs Don Young (R-AK), along with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), and Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) sent a letter today to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, requesting that the Department refrain from issuing a final rule on tribal acknowledgement regulations as set forth in 25 C.F.R. Part 83, cautioning that the proposed rule poses a range of “unintended and unjustifiable” consequences.  

We are writing to request your cooperation in evaluating the procedures used for acknowledging tribal status and the impacts of modifying the regulations governing such determinations,” the letter stated. “....commenters have identified problems with the proposed regulations, including a number federally recognized Indian tribes, some of which argue the proposal undermines the unique status of tribes and their relationship with the United States.”

“Before making any changes, the federal government must understand the impacts the proposed changes will have on tribal and non-tribal communities to ensure that any rules the Department ultimately adopts do not result in flawed decisions,” the Members urged. “To that end, we request the Department to refrain from issuing final regulations until we have conducted the oversight necessary to evaluate thoroughly the issues associated with recognition…We must also ensure that any changes that are made promote fair, accurate, and transparent decisions.”  

Click here to view the full letter. 

The Members requested a meeting in the next two weeks with the Secretary on this issue.  The Department is expected to publish a final rule between now and June 2015. 

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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