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Bishop: Congress Must Safeguard Integrity of Tribal Recognition Process


WASHINGTON, D.C., December 8, 2015 -

Today, the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs held a second legislative hearing on the Chairman Rob Bishop’s tribal recognition bill (H.R. 3764) to hear from input from Indian Country.   

The Tribal Recognition Act of 2015 seeks to reestablish Congress’s unique authority to federally recognize tribes as written in the Constitution. The Obama administration has been vocal in opposition to Congress’s role in the recognition of Indian tribes as written in Bishop’s bill.

“[The panel has] all given you examples of how the present system with the Department of the Interior has not been transparent, has been politicized, has been reviewed, has the opportunity of having it changed at the whim of the Department,” Chairman Bishop said. “The Department is as political as any other institution. So as long as the last say is in Congress, which is legally where it ought to be and legally where it is.”

Chairman Robert Martin of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians stressed the importance of federal recognition to all of Indian Country and the underlying failures with the current procedures that are addressed in Bishop’s legislation.

The lack of consistency on issues such as reaffirmation and re-petitioning has convinced us that Congress should be directly involved in the acknowledgement process,” Chairman Martin stated in his testimony.We have more faith in our locally elected representatives than in an untold number of bureaucrats that have no connection or direct accountability to our communities.”

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes echoed Chairman Martin’s sentiment and stressed the concept that Congress is a more accountable body to the states, to the people, and to the tribes.

H.R. 3764 would provide a more thorough and comprehensive procedure for Native American groups and communities to obtain federal recognition, allowing critical DOI and BIA input, but also allowing this body, where the several states have ample and immediate representation, to properly consider and if necessary reasonably debate and discuss possible collateral consequences on state sovereignty due to federal recognition of new tribal entities,” said Reyes in his testimony

Click here for additional information on the hearing. 


Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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