Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House with amendment(s) (12/07/2016)

TITLE I--FEDERAL RECOGNITION OF INDIAN TRIBES, GENERALLY

Tribal Recognition Act of 2016

(Sec. 104) This bill replaces the process for federal recognition of Indian tribes. Indian groups may only be recognized as an Indian tribe by Congress. Groups that are not federally recognized may submit a petition for federal recognition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and may file a letter of intent in advance. Groups may not be factions of recognized Indian tribes and may not have been denied federal recognition.

(Sec. 106) The BIA must publish guidelines for the preparation of petitions and provide petitioners with suggestions and advice.

(Sec. 107) The bill specifies criteria for a group to be considered an Indian tribe, including that the group has been identified as an Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900, comprises a distinct community, and consists of individuals who descend from a historical Indian tribe. Previous federal recognition is acceptable evidence of the tribal character of a group to the date of the last such recognition.

(Sec. 109) The BIA must: (1) notify the group, the state in which the group is located, any tribes or petitioning groups that are related to or have a potential interest in the group, and the public of the receipt of a letter of intent or a petition; (2) conduct a preliminary review of a petition and notify the group of obvious deficiencies or significant omissions and provide the group with an opportunity to revise the petition; and (3) review each petition and may initiate additional research before reporting on the petition to Congress.

TITLE II--FEDERAL RECOGNITION OF VIRGINIA INDIAN TRIBES

Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2016

(Sec. 213) This bill extends federal recognition to the following Indian tribes of Virginia and establishes their relationship with the federal government:

  • the Chickahominy Tribe;
  • the Chickahominy Indian Tribe--Eastern Division;
  • the Upper Mattaponi Tribe;
  • the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc.;
  • the Monacan Indian Nation; and
  • the Nansemond Indian Tribe.

The tribes and their members are made eligible for all services and benefits provided by the federal government to federally recognized Indian tribes. The bill establishes the service area of each tribe and requirements for each tribe regarding its membership roll and governance.

(Sec. 216) Upon the request of a tribe, the Department of the Interior must take specified lands into trust for the benefit of the tribe, to be considered part of the tribe's reservation.

The tribes may not conduct gaming activities.

TITLE III--LITTLE SHELL TRIBE OF CHIPPEWA INDIANS

Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act of 2016

(Sec. 304) This bill extends federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana.

(Sec. 305) The tribe and its members become eligible for services and benefits provided by the United States to federally recognized tribes and their members, without regard to the existence of a reservation or the location of the residence of any member. The service area of the tribe is considered to be the area comprised of Blaine, Cascade, Glacier, and Hill Counties, Montana.

(Sec. 307) The tribe, as a condition of receiving recognition, services, and benefits, must submit to Interior, and maintain, a membership roll.

(Sec. 308) Interior must take into trust for the benefit of the tribe 200 acres of land within the tribe's service area to be used for a tribal land base.