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105th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session 105-737
INDIAN FEDERAL RECOGNITION ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES ACT OF 1998
September 23, 1998.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on
the State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Young of Alaska, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 1154]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill
(H.R. 1154) to provide for administrative procedures to extend
Federal recognition to certain Indian groups, and for other
purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon
with an amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do
The amendment is as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu
thereof the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Indian Federal Recognition
Administrative Procedures Act of 1998''.
SEC. 2. PURPOSES.
The purposes of this Act are--
(1) to establish an administrative procedure to extend
Federal recognition to certain Indian groups;
(2) to extend to Indian groups which are determined to be
Indian tribes the protection, services, and benefits available
from the Federal Government pursuant to the Federal trust
(3) to extend to Indian groups which are determined to be
Indian tribes the immunities and privileges available to other
acknowledged Indian tribes by virtue of their status as Indian
tribes with a government-to-government relationship with the
(4) to ensure that when the Federal Government extends
acknowledgment to an Indian tribe, it does so with a consistent
legal, factual, and historical basis;
(5) to establish a commission which will act in a supporting
role to petitioning groups applying for recognition;
(6) to provide clear and consistent standards of
administrative review of documented petitions for
(7) to clarify evidentiary standards and expedite the
administrative review process by providing adequate resources
to process petitions; and
(8) to remove the acknowledgment process from the Bureau of
Indian Affairs and invest it in the Commission on Indian
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
For purposes of this Act:
(1) Acknowledgment; acknowledged.--The term
``acknowledgment'' or ``acknowledged'' means a determination by
the Commission on Indian Recognition that an Indian group
constitutes an Indian tribe with a government-to-government
relationship with the United States, and whose members are
recognized as eligible for the special programs and services
provided by the United States to Indians because of their
status as Indians.
(2) Bureau.--The term ``Bureau'' means the Bureau of Indian
(3) Commission.--The term ``Commission'' means the Commission
on Indian Recognition established pursuant to section 4.
(4) Community.--The term ``Community'' means any group of
people which, in the context of the history, geography,
culture, and social organization of the group, sustains
consistent interactions and significant social relationships
within its membership and whose members are differentiated from
and identified as distinct from nonmembers.
(5) Continuously; continuous.--The term ``continuously'' or
``continuous'' means extending from the given date to the
present substantially without interruption; proof of any matter
required shall be deemed without substantial interruption if
such proof is available at least for every fifth year.
(6) Department.--The term ``Department'' means the Department
of the Interior.
(7) Documented petition.--The term ``documented petition''
means the detailed, factual exposition and arguments, including
all documentary evidence, necessary to demonstrate that
arguments specifically address the mandatory criteria
established in section 5.
(8) Historical; historically.--The term ``historic'' or
``historically'' means dating from first sustained contact with
(9) Indian group; group.--The term ``Indian group'' or
``group'' means any Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band,
pueblo, village or community within the United States that the
Secretary does not acknowledge to be an Indian tribe.
(10) Indian tribe; tribe.--The term ``Indian tribe'' or
``tribe'' means any Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band,
pueblo, village or community within the United States included
on the Secretary's annual list of acknowledged tribes.
(11) Indigenous.--The term ``indigenous'' means native to the
United States in that at least part of the petitioner's
traditional territory extended into what is now within the
boundaries of the United States.
(12) Letter of intent.--The term ``letter of intent'' means
an undocumented letter or resolution which is dated and signed
by the governing body of an Indian group and submitted to the
Commission indicating the group's intent to submit a petition
for acknowledgment as an Indian tribe.
(13) Member of an indian group.--The term ``member of an
Indian group'' means an individual who is recognized by an
Indian group as meeting its membership criteria.
(14) Member of an indian tribe.--The term ``member of an
Indian tribe'' means an individual who--
(A) meets the membership requirements of the tribe as
set forth in its governing document;
(B) in the absence of a governing document which sets
out these requirements, has been recognized as a member
collectively by those persons comprising the tribal
governing body and has consistently maintained tribal
relations with the tribe; or
(C) is listed on the tribal membership rolls as a
member, if such rolls are kept.
(15) Petition.--The term ``petition'' means a petition for
acknowledgment submitted or transferred to the Commission
pursuant to section 5.
(16) Petitioner.--The term ``petitioner'' means any group
which has submitted a petition or letter of intent to the
Commission requesting acknowledgment as an Indian tribe or has
a petition or letter of intent transferred to the Commission
under section 5(a).
(17) Previous federal acknowledgment.--The term ``previous
Federal acknowledgment'' means any action by the Federal
Government the character of which is clearly premised on
identification of a tribal political entity and clearly
indicates the recognition of a government-to-government
relationship between that entity and the Federal Government.
(18) Restoration.--The term ``restoration'' means the
reextension of acknowledgment to any previously acknowledged
tribe which may have had its acknowledged status abrogated or
diminished by reason of congressional legislation expressly
terminating that status.
(19) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary
of the Interior.
(20) Treaty.--The term ``treaty'' means any treaty--
(A) negotiated and ratified by the United States on
or before March 3, 1871, with, or on behalf of, any
Indian group or Indian tribe.
(B) made by any government with, or on behalf of, any
Indian group or Indian tribe, from which Federal
Government subsequently acquired territory by purchase,
conquest, annexation, or cession; or
(C) negotiated by the United States with, or on
behalf of, any Indian group, whether or not the treaty
was subsequently ratified.
(21) Tribal roll.--The term ``tribal roll'' means a list
exclusively of those individuals who have been determined by
the tribe to meet the tribe's membership requirements as set
forth in its governing document or, in the absence of a
governing document setting forth those requirements, have been
recognized as members by the tribe's governing body. In either
case, those individuals on a tribal roll must have
affirmatively demonstrated consent to being listed as members.
(22) United states.--The term ``United States'' means the 48
contiguous States, Alaska, and Hawaii; and does not include
territories or possessions.
SEC. 4. COMMISSION ON INDIAN RECOGNITION.
(a) Establishment.--There is established within the Department of
the Interior the Commission on Indian Recognition. The Commission shall
report directly to the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs.
(1) In general.--(A) The Commission shall consist of 3
members appointed by the Secretary.
(B) In making appointments to the Commission, the Secretary
shall give careful consideration to--
(i) recommendations received from Indian tribes;
(ii) recommendations from Indian groups and
professional organizations; and
(iii) individuals who have a background in Indian law
or policy, anthropology, or history.
(A) No more than 2 members of the Commission may be
members of the same political party.
(B) No more than 1 member of the Commission may be an
employee of the Department of the Interior.
(3) Terms.--(A) Each member of the Commission shall be
appointed for a term of 4 years, except as provided in
(B) As designated by the Secretary at the time of
appointment, of the members first appointed--
(i) 1 shall be appointed for a term of 2 years;
(ii) 1 shall be appointed for a term of 3 years; and
(ii) 1 shall be appointed for a term of 4 years.
(4) Vacancy.--Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect
its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner in which the
original appointment was made. Any member appointed to fill a
vacancy occurring before the expiration of the term for which
the member's predecessor was appointed shall be appointed only
for the remainder of that term. A member may serve after the
expiration of that member's term until a successor has taken
(5) Compensation.--(A) Each member of the Commission not
otherwise employed by the United States Government shall
receive compensation at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of
the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level V of the
Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title, 5, United
States Code, for each day, including traveltime, such member is
engaged in the actual performance of duties authorized by the
(B) Except as provided in subparagraph (C), a member of the
Commission who is otherwise an officer or employee of the
United States Government shall serve on the Commission without
additional compensation, but such service shall be without
interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.
(C) All members of the Commission shall be reimbursed for
travel and per diem in lieu of subsistence expenses during the
performance of duties of the Commission while away from home or
their regular place of business, in accordance with subchapter
I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code.
(6) Chairperson.--At the time appointments are made under
paragraph (1), the Secretary shall designate 1 of such
appointees as Chairperson of the Commission.
(c) Meetings and Procedures.--
(1) Initial meeting.--The Commission shall hold its first
meeting no later than 30 days after the date on which all
initial members of the Commission have been appointed.
(2) Quorum.--2 members of the Commission shall constitute a
quorum for the transaction of business.
(3) Rules.--The Commission may adopt such rules (consistent
with the provisions of this Act) as may be necessary to
establish its procedures and to govern the manner of its
operations, organization, and personnel.
(4) Principal office.--The principal office of the Commission
shall be in the District of Columbia.
(d) Duties.--The Commission shall carry out the duties assigned to
the Commission by this Act, and shall meet the requirements imposed on
the Commission by this Act.
(e) Powers and Authorities.--
(1) Chairman.--Subject to such rules and regulations as may
be adopted by the Commission, the Chairman of the Commission is
(A) appoint, terminate, and fix the compensation
(without regard to the provisions of title 5, United
States Code, governing appointments in the competitive
service, and without regard to the provisions of
chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such
title, or of any other provision of law, relating to
the number, classification, and General Schedule rates)
of an Executive Director of the Commission and of such
other personnel as the Chairman deems advisable to
assist in the performance of the duties of the
Commission, at a rate not to exceed a rate equal to the
daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay
prescribed for level V of the Executive Schedule under
section 5316 of title 5, United States Code; and
(B) procure, as authorized by section 3109(b) of
title 5, United States Code, temporary and intermittent
services to the same extent as is authorized by law for
agencies in the executive branch, but at rates not to
exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic
pay prescribed for level V of the Executive Schedule
under section 5316 of such title.
(2) Commission.--The Commission may--
(A) hold such hearings and sit and act at such times;
(B) take such testimony;
(C) have such printing and binding done;
(D) enter into such contracts and other arrangements,
subject to the availability of funds;
(E) make such expenditures;
(F) secure directly from any officer, department,
agency, establishment, or instrumentality of the
Federal Government such information as the Commission
may require for the purpose of this Act, and each such
officer, department, agency establishment, or
instrumentality is authorized and directed to furnish,
to the extent permitted by law, such information,
suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly to the
Commission, upon request made by the Chairman of the
(G) use the United States mails in the same manner
and under the same conditions as other departments and
agencies of the United States; and
(H) take such other actions as the Commission may
deem advisable to carry out its duties.
(3) Members.--Any member of the Commission may administer
oaths or affirmations to witnesses appearing before the
(f) Assistance From Other Federal Agencies.--Upon the request of
the Chairman of the Commission, the head of any Federal department,
agency, or instrumentality is authorized to make any of the facilities
and services of such department, agency, or instrumentality available
to the Commission and detail any of the personnel of such department,
agency or instrumentality to the Commission, on a nonreimbursable
basis, to assist the Commission in carrying out its duties under this
(g) Termination of Commission.--The Commission shall terminate 12
years after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(h) Federal Advisory Committee Act.--The provisions of the Federal
Advisory Committee Act shall not apply to the Commission.
SEC. 5. PETITIONS FOR RECOGNITION AND LETTERS OF INTENT.
(a) In General.--
(1) Submission.--Any Indian group may submit to the
Commission a petition requesting that the Commission recognize
that the Indian group is an Indian tribe.
(2) Hearing.--Indian groups that have been denied or refused
recognition as an Indian tribe under regulations prescribed by
the Secretary shall be entitled to an adjudicatory hearing,
under section 9 of this Act, before the Commission. For
purposes of the adjudicatory hearing, the Assistant Secretary's
final determination shall be considered a preliminary
determination under section 8(b)(1)(B) of this Act.
(3) Groups and entities excluded.--The provisions of this Act
do not apply to the following groups or entities, which shall
not be eligible for recognition under this Act--
(A) Indian tribes, organized bands, pueblos,
communities, and Alaska Native entities which are
recognized by the Secretary as of the date of enactment
of this Act as eligible to receive services from the
(B) splinter groups, political factions, communities,
or groups of any character which separate from the main
body of an Indian tribe that, at the time of such
separation, was recognized as being an Indian tribe by
the Secretary, unless it can be clearly established
that the group, faction, or community has functioned
throughout history until the date of such petition as
an autonomous Indian group; and
(C) any Indian group whose relationship with the
Federal Government was expressly terminated by an Act
(4) Transfer of petitions.--(A) No later than 30 days after
the date on which all of the initial members of the Commission
have been appointed, the Secretary shall transfer to the
Commission all petitions pending before the Department. The
Secretary shall also transfer all letters of intent previously
received by the Department that request the Secretary, or the
Federal Government, to recognize or acknowledge an Indian group
as an Indian tribe.
(B) On the date of such transfer, the Secretary and the
Department shall cease to have any authority to recognize or
acknowledge, on behalf of the Federal Government, any Indian
group as an Indian tribe.
(C) Petitions and letters of intent transferred to the
Commission under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall, for
purposes of this Act, be considered as having been submitted to
the Commission in the same order as they were submitted to the
(b) Petition Form and Content.--Except as otherwise provided in
this section, any petition submitted under subsection (a) by an Indian
group shall be in any readable form that clearly indicates that the
petition is requesting the Commission to recognize the petitioning
Indian group as an Indian tribe. Each petition shall contain specific
evidence establishing the following mandatory criteria:
(1) The petitioner has been identified as an American Indian
entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1934.
(A) Evidence to be relied upon in determining a group's
Indian identity may include 1 or a combination of the
following, as well as other evidence of identification
by other than the petitioner itself or its members.
Proof of any 1 of the following for a given time is
conclusive evidence of Indian identity for that time.
(i) Identification as an Indian entity by
(ii) Relationships with State governments
based on identification of the group as Indian.
(iii) Dealings with a county, parish, or
other local government in a relationship based
on the group's Indian identity.
(iv) Identification as an Indian entity by
anthropologists, historians, or other scholars.
(v) Identification as an Indian entity in
newspapers and books.
(vi) Identification as an Indian entity in
relationships with Indian tribes or with
national, regional, or State Indian
(B) A petitioner may establish that, for any given
period of time for which evidence of identification as
Indian is lacking, such absence of evidence corresponds
in time with official acts of the Federal or relevant
State government which prohibited or penalized the
expression of Indian identity. For such periods of
time, the absence of evidence identifying the
petitioner as an Indian entity shall not be the basis
for declining to acknowledge the petitioner.
(2) A predominant portion of the petitioning groups comprises
a distinct community and has existed as a community on a
substantially continuous basis since 1934.
(A) The criterion that the petitioner meets the
definition of community set forth in section 3 may be
demonstrated by 1 or more of the following:
(i) Significant rates of marriage within the
group or, as may be culturally required,
patterned out-marriages with other Indian
(ii) Significant social relationships
connecting individual members.
(iii) Significant rates of informal social
interaction which exist broadly among the
members of a group.
(iv) A significant degree of shared or
cooperative labor or other economic activity
among the membership.
(v) Evidence of strong patterns of
discrimination or other social distinctions by
(vi) Shared sacred or secular ritual activity
encompassing most of the group.
(vii) Cultural patterns shared among a
significant portion of the group that are
different from those of the non-Indian
populations with whom it interacts. These
patterns must function as more than a symbolic
identification of the group as Indian. They may
include, but are not limited to, language,
kinship organization, or religious beliefs and
(viii) The persistence of a named, collective
Indian identity continuously over a period of
more than 50 years, notwithstanding changes in
(ix) A demonstration of political influence
under the criterion in paragraph (3)(B) shall
be conclusive evidence for demonstrating
community for that period of time.
(x) Other evidence as considered appropriate
by the Secretary.
(B) A petitioner shall be considered to have provided
sufficient evidence of community at a given point in
time if evidence is provided to demonstrate any 1 of
(i) More than 50 percent of the members
reside in a geographical area or areas no more
than 50 miles from a historic land base(s) or
site(s) of the petitioner.
(ii) At least 50 percent of the marriages in
the group are between members of the group.
(iii) At least 50 percent of the group
members maintain distinct cultural patterns
such as, but not limited to, language, kinship
organization, or religious beliefs and
(iv) There are distinct social institutions
encompassing more than 50 percent of the
members, such as kinship organizations, formal
or informal economic cooperation, or religious
(v) The group has met the criterion in
paragraph (3) using evidence described in
(3) The petitioner has maintained political influence or
authority over its members as an autonomous entity from 1934
until the present.
(A) This criterion may be demonstrated by 1 or more
of the evidence listed below or by other evidence of
political influence or authority:
(i) The group is able to mobilize significant
numbers of members and significant resources
from its members for group purposes.
(ii) Most of the membership considers issues
acted upon or actions taken by group leaders or
governing bodies to be of importance.
(iii) There is widespread knowledge,
communication, and involvement in political
processes by most of the group's members.
(iv) There are internal conflicts which show
controversy over valued group goals,
properties, policies, processes, or decisions.
(B) A petitioning group shall be considered to have
provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate the
exercise of political influence or authority at a given
point in time by demonstrating any 1 of the following:
(i) A continuous line of group leaders,
acknowledged and accepted as such by State or
local governments or nonmembers in general,
with a description of the means of selection.
(ii) Group leaders or other mechanisms exist
or existed which allocate group resources such
as land, residence rights, and the like on a
(iii) Group leaders or other mechanisms exist
or existed which settle disputes between
members or subgroups by some means.
(iv) Group leaders or other mechanisms exist
or existed which exert strong influence on the
behavior of individual members, such as the
establishment or maintenance of norms and the
enforcement of sanctions to influence behavior.
(v) Group leaders or other mechanisms exist
or existed which organize or influence economic
subsistence activities among the members,
including shared or cooperative labor.
(C) A group that has met the requirements in
paragraph (3) at a given point in time shall be
considered to have provided sufficient evidence to meet
this criterion at that point in time.
(4) A copy of the group's present governing document,
including its membership criteria. In the absence of a written
document, the petitioner must provide a statement describing in
full its membership criteria.
(5) The petitioner's membership consists of individuals who
descend from a historical Indian tribe or from historical
Indian tribes which combined and functioned as a single
autonomous political entity.
(A) A petitioner shall be presumed to descend from a
historical Indian tribe or combined tribes upon proof
by the petitioner that its member descend from an
Indian entity in existence in 1934. This presumption
may be rebutted by affirmative evidence offered by any
interested party that the Indian entity in existence in
1934 does not descend from a historical Indian tribe or
(B) The following evidence shall be deemed by the
Commission to provide descent from a historical Indian
entity for the time for which such evidence is
(i) Rolls prepared by the Secretary on a
descendancy basis for purposes of distributing
claims money, providing allotments, or other
(ii) State, Federal, or other official
records or evidence identifying present members
or ancestors of present members as being
descendants of a historical tribe or combined
(iii) Church, school, and other similar
enrollment records identifying present members
or ancestors of present members as being
descendants of a historical tribe or combined
(iv) Affidavits of recognition by tribal
elders, leaders, or the tribal governing body
identifying present members or ancestors of
present members as being descendants of a
historical tribe or combined tribes.
(v) Reports, research, or other like
statements based upon first-hand experience of
historians, anthropologists, and genealogists
with established expertise on the petitioner or
Indian entities in general identifying present
members or ancestors of present members as
being descendants of a historical tribe or
(C) A petitioner may also demonstrate this criterion
by other record of evidence identifying present members
or ancestors of present members as being descendants of
a historical tribe or combined tribes.
(D) The petitioner must provide an official
membership list, separately certified by the group's
governing body of all known current members of the
group. This list must include each member's full name
(including maiden name), date of birth, and current
residential address. The petitioner must also provide a
copy of each available former list of members based on
the group's own defined criteria, as well as a
statement describing the circumstances surrounding the
preparation of the current list and, insofar as
possible, the circumstances surrounding the preparation
of former lists.
(6) The membership of the petitioning group is composed
principally of persons who are not members of any acknowledged
North American Indian tribe. However, under certain conditions
a petitioning group may be acknowledged even if its membership
is composed principally of persons whose names have appeared on
rolls of, or who have been otherwise associated with, an
acknowledged Indian tribe. The conditions are that the group
must establish that it has functioned since 1934 until the
present as a separate and autonomous Indian tribal entity, that
its members do not maintain a bilateral political relationship
with the acknowledged tribe, and that its members have provided
written confirmation of their membership in the petitioning
(c) Previous Acknowledgment.--
(1) In general.--Evidence which demonstrates previous Federal
acknowledgment includes, but is not limited to--
(A) evidence that the group has had or is the
successor in interest to a tribe that has had treaty
relations with the United States;
(B) evidence that the group has been or is the
successor in interest to a tribe that has been
denominated a tribe by Act of Congress or Executive
(C) evidence that the group has been or is the
successor in interest to a tribe that has been treated
by the Federal Government as having collective rights
in tribal lands or funds.
(2) Presumption of continuousness.--A petitioner that can
demonstrate previous Federal acknowledgment by a preponderance
of the evidence shall be required to demonstrate the existence
of current political authority as defined by subsection (b)(3),
with a time depth limited to 10 years preceding the date of the
petition. Upon such demonstration, a presumption of continuous
existence since previous Federal acknowledgment shall arise.
Unless such presumption is rebutted by evidence offered by an
interested party proving by a preponderance of the evidence
that the previously recognized group has abandoned tribal
relations, such group shall be recognized.
(d) Recognition of groups meeting criteria.--The Commission shall
recognize as an Indian tribe a petitioning group that demonstrates the
criteria set out in this section by a preponderance of the evidence.
Such recognized tribes shall be entitled to the same privileges,
immunities, rights, and benefits of other federally recognized tribes.
Neither shall the Department of the Interior nor any other Federal
agency purport to diminish, condition, or revoke the privileges,
immunities, rights, and benefits of Indian tribes recognized by any
means before the effective date of this Act or under the provisions of
SEC. 6. NOTICE OF RECEIPT OF PETITION AND LETTERS OF INTENT.
(a) Petitioner.--Not later than 30 days after a petition is
submitted or transferred to the Commission under section 5(a), the
Commission shall send an acknowledgment of receipt in writing to the
petitioner and shall have published in the Federal Register a notice of
such receipt, including the name, location, and mailing address of the
petitioner and such other information that will identify the entity who
submitted the petition and the date the petition was received by the
Commission. The notice shall also indicate where a copy of the petition
may be examined.
(b) Letters of Intent.--As to letters of intent, publish in the
Federal Register a notice of such receipt, including the name,
location, and mailing address of petitioner. A petitioner who has
submitted a letter of intent or had a letter of intent transferred to
the Commission under section 5(a) shall not be required to submit a
documented petition within any time period.
(c) Others.--The Commission shall also notify, in writing, the
Governor and attorney general of, and each recognized Indian tribe
within, any State in which a petitioner resides.
(d) Publication; Opportunity for Supporting of Opposing
Submissions.--The Commission shall publish the notice of receipt of the
petition in a major newspaper of general circulation in the town or
city nearest the location of the petitioner. The notice shall include,
in addition to the information described in subsection (a), notice of
opportunity for other parties to submit factual or legal arguments in
support of or in opposition to, the petition. Such submissions shall be
provided to the petitioner upon receipt by the Commission. The
petitioner shall be provided an opportunity to respond to such
submissions prior to a determination on the petition by the Commission.
SEC. 7. PROCESSING THE PETITION.
(1) In general.--Upon receipt of a documented petition, the
Commission shall conduct a review to determine whether the
petitioner is entitled to be recognized as an Indian tribe.
(2) Consideration.--The review conducted under paragraph (1)
shall include consideration of the petition, supporting
evidence, and the factual statements contained in the petition.
(3) Research.--The Commission may also initiate other
research for any purpose relative to analyzing the petition and
obtaining additional information about the petitioner's status
and my consider any evidence which may be submitted by other
(4) Access to other federal resources.--Upon request by the
petitioner, the Library of Congress and the National Archives
shall each allow access to the petitioner to its resources,
records, and documents, for the purpose of conducting research
and preparing evidence concerning the status of the petitioner.
(1) In general.--Except as otherwise provided in this
subsection, petitions shall be considered on a first come,
first served basis, determined by the date of the original
filing of the petition with the Commission, or the Department
if the petition is transferred to the Commission pursuant to
section 5(a). The Commission shall establish a priority
register including those petitions pending before the
Department on the date of enactment of this Act.
(2) Priority.--Petitions that are submitted to the Commission
by Indian groups that meet 1 or more of the requirements set
forth in section 5(c) shall receive priority consideration over
petitions submitted by any other Indian group.
SEC. 8 PRELIMINARY HEARING.
(a) In general.--Not later than 60 days after the receipt of a
petition by the Commission, the Commission shall set a date for a
preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing, the petitioner and any
other concerned party may provide evidence concerning the status of the
(1) In general.--Within 30 days after the conclusion of the
preliminary hearing under subsection (a), the Commission shall
make a determination either--
(A) to extend acknowledgement to the petitioner; or
(B) that the petitioner proceed to an adjudicatory
(2) Published in federal register.--The Commission shall
publish the determination in the Federal Register.
(c) Information To Be Provided Preparatory to an Adjudicatory
(1) In general.--If the Commission determines under
subsection (b) that the petitioner proceed to an adjudicatory
hearing, the Commission shall--
(A) immediately make available to the petitioner all
records relied upon by the Commission and its staff in
making the preliminary determination to assist the
petitioner in preparing for the adjudicatory hearing,
and shall also include such guidance as the Commission
considers necessary or appropriate to assist the
petitioner in preparing for the hearing including
references to prior decisions of the Commission or to
recognition decisions made under regulations prescribed
by the Secretary that will provide direction in
preparing for the adjudicatory hearing; and if prior
recognition decisions are referred to, the Commission
will make all records relating to such decisions
available to the petitioner in a timely manner; and
(B) within 30 days after the conclusion of the
preliminary hearing under subsection (a), notify the
petitioner in writing, which notice shall include a
list of any deficiencies or omissions on which the
Commission relied in making its determination.
(2) List of deficiencies.--The list of deficiencies and
omissions provided under paragraph (1)(B) shall be the subject
of the adjudicatory hearing. The Commission may not add to this
list once it is issued.
SEC. 9. ADJUDICATORY HEARING.
(a) In General.--Not later than 180 days after the conclusion of
the preliminary hearing, the Commission shall afford the petitioner
described in section 8(b)(1)(B) an adjudicatory hearing. The hearing
shall be on the list of deficiencies and omissions provided under
section 8(c)(1)(B) and shall be conducted on the record pursuant to
sections 554, 556, and 557 of title 5, United States Code.
(b) Testimony From Staff of Commission.--The Commission shall
require testimony from its acknowledgment and research staff that
worked on the preliminary determination and that are assisting the
Commission in the final determination under subsection (d) and may
require the testimony of other witnesses. Any such testimony shall be
subject to cross-examination by the petitioner.
(c) Evidence by Petitioner.--The petitioner may provide such
evidence as the petitioner deems appropriate.
(d) Decision by Commission.--Within 60 days after the end of the
hearing held under subsection (a), the Commission shall--
(1) make a determination as to the extension or denial of
acknowledgement to the petitioner;
(2) publish its determination under paragraph (1) in the
Federal Register; and
(3) deliver a copy of the determination to the petitioner,
and to every other interested party.
SEC. 10. APPEALS.
(a) In General.--Within 60 days after the date the Commission's
decision is published under section 9(d), the petitioner may appeal the
determination to the United States District Court for the District of
(b) Attorney Fees.--If the petitioner prevails in the appeal
described in subsection (a), it shall be eligible for an award of
reasonable attorney fees and costs under the provisions of section 504
of title 5, United States Code, or section 2412 of title 28 of such
Code, as the case may be.
SEC. 11. IMPLEMENTATION OF DECISIONS.
(a) Eligibility for Services and Benefits.--
(1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), upon recognition
by the Commission that the petitioner is an Indian tribe, the
Indian tribe shall be eligible for the services and benefits
from the Federal Government that are available to other
federally recognized Indian tribes by virtue of their status as
Indian tribes with a government-to-government relationship with
the United States, as well as having the responsibilities and
obligations of such Indian tribes. Such recognition shall
subject the Indian tribes to the same authority of Congress and
the United States to which other federally recognized tribes
(2) Availability.--Recognition of the Indian tribe under this
Act does not create an immediate entitlement to existing
programs of the Bureau. Such programs shall become available
upon appropriation of funds by law. Requests for appropriations
shall follow a determination under subsection (b) of the needs
of the newly-recognized Indian tribe.
(b) Needs Determination.--Within 6 months after an Indian tribe is
recognized under this Act, the appropriate area offices of the Bureau
and the Indian Health Service shall consult and develop in cooperation
with the Indian tribe, and forward to the respective Secretary, a
determination of the needs of the Indian tribe and a recommended budget
required to serve the newly recognized Indian tribe. The recommended
budget shall be considered along with recommendations by the
appropriate Secretary in the budget-request process.
SEC. 12. ANNUAL REPORT CONCERNING COMMISSION'S ACTIVITIES.
(a) List of Recognized Tribes.--Not later than 90 days after the
date of the enactment of this Act, and annually on or before every
January 30 thereafter, the Commission shall publish in the Federal
Register a list of all Indian tribes which are recognized by the
Federal Government and receiving services from the Bureau of Indian
(b) Annual Report.--Beginning 1 year after the date of the
enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Commission shall
submit a report to the Committee on Resources of the House of
Representatives and to the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate a
report on its activities, which shall include at a minimum the
(1) The number of petitions pending at the beginning of the
year and the names of the petitioners.
(2) The number of petitions received during the year and the
names of the petitioners.
(3) The number of petitions the Commission approved for
acknowledgement and the names of the acknowledged petitioners.
(4) The number of petitions the Commission denied for
acknowledge and the names of the petitioners.
(5) The status of all pending petitions and the names of the
SEC. 13. ACTIONS BY PETITIONERS FOR ENFORCEMENT.
Any petitioner may bring an action in the district court of the
United States for the district in which the petitioner resides, or the
United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to enforce
the provisions of this Act, including any time limitations within which
actions are required to be taken, or decisions made, under this Act and
the district court shall issue such orders (including writs of
mandamus) as may be necessary to enforce the provisions of this Act.
SEC. 14. REGULATIONS.
The Commission is authorized to prescribe such regulations as may
be necessary to carry out the provisions and purposes of this Act. All
such regulations must be published in accordance with the provisions of
title 5, United States Code.
SEC. 15. GUIDELINES AND ADVICE.
(a) Guidelines.--Not later than 180 days after petitions and
letters of intent have been transferred to the Commission by the
Secretary under section 5(a)(4)(A), the Commission shall make available
suggested guidelines for the format of petitions, including general
suggestions and guidelines on where and how to research required
information, but such examples shall not preclude the use of any other
(b) Research Advice.--The Commission, upon request, is authorized
to provide suggestions and advice to any petitioner for his research
into the petitioner's historical background and Indian identity. The
Commission shall not be responsible for the actual research on behalf
of the petitioner.
SEC. 16. ASSISTANCE TO PETITIONERS.
(1) In general.--The Secretary of Health and Human Services
may award grants to Indian groups seeking Federal recognition
to enable the Indian groups to--
(a) conduct the research necessary to substantiate
petitions under this Act; and
(B) prepare documentation necessary for the
submission of a petition under this Act.
(2) Other grants.--The grants made under this subsection
shall be in addition to any other grants the Secretary of
Health and Human Services is authorized to provide under any
other provision of law.
(b) Competitive Award.--Grants provided under subsection (a) shall
be awarded competitively based on objective criteria prescribed in
regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
SEC. 17 SEVERABILITY.
If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any
petitioner is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other
provisions or applications of the Act which can be given effect without
regard to the invalid provision or application, and to this end the
provisions of this Act shall be severable.
SEC. 18. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
(a) Commission.--There are authorized to be appropriated for the
Commission for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act
(other than section 16), $1,500,000 for fiscal year 1998 and $1,500,000
for each of the 12 succeeding fiscal years.
(b) Secretary of HHS.--There are authorized to be appropriated for
the Administration for Native Americans of the Department of Health and
Human Services for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of
section 16, $3,000,000 for each fiscal year.
PURPOSE OF THE BILL
The purpose of H.R. 1154 is to provide for administrative
procedures to extend federal recognition to certain Indian
BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION
H.R. 1154, the Indian Federal Recognition Administrative
Procedures Act of 1997, would simplify and update the existing
procedures for extending federal recognition to Indian tribes.
H.R. 1154 is identical to legislation introduced in the 104th
Congress (H.R. 2591) and is similar to legislation which the
House passed in the 103rd Congress.
H.R. 1154 would revamp the federal recognition process for
Indian groups that is now handled by the Branch of
Acknowledgment and Review of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
(BIA), Department of the Interior. A broad coalition of
unrecognized Indian tribes has proposed reforming the
recognition process. This coalition points out that: (a) the
BIA is inherently biased against adding new tribes to its
existing budget; (b) the recognition process is too expensive
(costs per tribe range from $300,000 to $500,000); (c) the
recognition process is too lengthy (the BIA completes an
average of 1.3 petitions a year, meaning it will take more than
a century to finish pending applications); (d) the recognition
process does not provide petitioners with due process (i.e.
cross examination, and an on-the-record hearing); and (e) the
same experts who conduct research on a petitioner's case are
also the judge and jury in the process. In a recent case, a
federal court found that the BIA's procedures were ``marred by
both lengthy delays and a pattern of serious procedural due
H.R. 1154 is intended to eliminate bias and conflict of
interest by establishing an independent three member Commission
outside of the Interior Department to review tribal recognition
petitions. It also provides tribes with the opportunity for
formal, on-the-record hearings. Records relied upon by the
Commission would be made available in a timely manner to
petitioners. In addition, H.R. 1154 affirms the precedential
value of prior BIA recognition decisions and makes the records
of those decisions readily available to petitioners. The bill
also sets strict time lines for action by the new Commission on
H.R. 1154 would also streamline federal recognition
criteria by aligning them with the legal standards in place
prior to 1978 when current criteria were implemented by the
BIA. Among other things, H.R. 1154 would require a petitioning
tribe to prove: (1) that it and its members have been
identified as Indians since 1934; (2) that it has exercised
political leadership over its members since 1934; (3) that it
has a membership roll; and (4) that it now exists as a
It was not until 1979, 157 years after the establishment of
the BIA, that there was a comprehensive list of exactly which
Indian tribes are federally acknowledged and by exclusion from
that list--which Indian groups are not.\1\ There had been some
earlier lists created by the BIA to determine which tribes were
under the ``wardship'' of the United States.\2\ Another list
was codified by Indian Commissioner John Collier in 1934.\3\
The concept, however, of federal ``recognition'' of Indian
tribes did not become a significant legal issue until the
\1\ 44 Fed. Reg. 7235 (1979).
\2\ The Department of the Interior, Census Office, Report on
Indians Taxed and Indians Not Taxed in the United States at the
Eleventh Census: 1890, at 34-43 (1894).
\3\ 25 U.S.C. 461-497.
Several factors brought the recognition issue to the legal
forefront. First, the final recommendations of the American
Indian Policy Review Commission included a specific
recommendation to establish ``definitional factors'' for
determining the tribal status of unacknowledged Indian groups.
Second, in United States v. Washington, 520 F.2d 676 (9th Cir.
1975), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1086 (1976), the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals decided that Indian tribes exercising treaty
fishing rights were entitled to half the commercial catch in
the State of Washington, but eligibility was limited to treaty
signatories and federally recognized Indian tribes. Third, the
First Circuit Court of Appeals decided Joint Tribal Council of
Passamaquoddy Tribe v. Morton, 528 F.2d 370 (1st Cir. 1975),
where a federally unacknowledged tribe successfully claimed
hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Maine which had been
illegally transferred or ceded to the State. In the wake of
these two decisions, the BIA began to receive more and more
requests for federal acknowledgment from unacknowledged tribes.
It was clear that an internal system for recognizing Indian
tribes was needed. Hence, in 1978 the ``Procedures for
Establishing that an American Indian Group Exists as an Indian
Tribe'' were established.
Need for legislation
The need for legislation is reflected in various complaints
which have come to the attention of the Committee over a period
of several years. It is the collective opinion of many Indian
bands which have been frustrated in their attempts to
participate effectively in the existing recognition process
that the process is unworkable. Numerous reasons are cited.
The current recognition process is too expensive for Indian
tribes. Experts estimate that the cost of producing an average
petition ranges from $300,000 to $500,000. Over the past 16
years, the BIA has spent more than $6 million to evaluate
The current recognition process takes too long. Since 1978,
when the BIA recognition regulations were put into place, only
12 tribes have been acknowledged, and 14 have been denied.
During the same period, the BIA has received over 160 petitions
or letters of intent to petition. In 1978, there were already
40 petitions pending. Bud Shapard, the former head of the
Bureau of Acknowledgment and Research and primary author of the
regulations testified before the Committee that ``the current
process is impossibly slow. [The BIA's acknowledgment
rate]works out statistically to be 1.3 cases a year. At that rate, it
will take 110 years to complete the process.''
The current recognition process is subjective, flawed, and
has been applied in an uneven manner. The BIA's handling of the
Samish case demonstrates the lack of fairness in the process.
In the only appeal of a negative recognition decision to date,
the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Interior
Department's own board of appeals found that the BIA's
recognition process ``did not give [the tribe] due process''
and rejected the BIA's position ``as not being supported by the
evidence.'' A federal judge recently rebuked the BIA and the
Department of the Interior's Solicitor's office for attempting
to alter an Interior Department judge's findings. To protect
the recognition process from criticism, the BIA and the
Solicitor's office attempted to hide from the public the
judge's findings that the BIA's tribal purity test was flawed,
that the BIA's research and methods were ``sloppy and
unprofessional'' and that the BIA had ``prejudged'' the Samish
case in violation of due process.
The primary author of the BIA recognition regulations
testified before Congress that, ``[b]ecause there is no clear
definition of what the petitioners are attempting to prove and
what the BIA is attempting to verify, the regulations require
nonsensical levels of research and documentation. This results
in regulations full of vague phrases requiring subjective
interpretations. By my count the 1978 original regulations
contained 35 phrases that required a subjective determination.
The 1994 revised and streamlined regulations not only doubled
the length of the regulations, they more than doubled the areas
that required a subjective determination.''
The current recognition process is a closed or hidden
process. The current process does not allow a petitioning tribe
to cross-examine evidence or the researchers, and does not
allow the tribe to even review the evidence on which the
determination was made until the end of the process.
The current recognition process is inherently biased. The
same Department responsible for deciding whether to recognize a
tribe is also required to provide services to that tribe. An
earlier House of Representatives report recognized that the BIA
has an ``internal disincentive to recognize new tribes when it
has difficulty serving existing tribes and more new tribes
would increase the BIA workload.''
H.R. 1154 sets time lines for decision making. It requires
a Commission on Indian Recognition to publish petitions for
recognition in the Federal Register within 30 days of receipt.
It requires the Commission, within 60 days of receipt of a
recognition petition, to set a date for a preliminary hearing.
It requires the Commission, within 30 days of the preliminary
hearing, to decide whether to extend recognition or to hold an
adjudicatory hearing. It requires the Commission to hold the
adjudicatory hearing within 180 days of the preliminary hearing
and make a decision within 60 days after the adjudicatory
H.R. 1154 includes mandatory recognition criteria and
aligns that criteria with the pre-1978 criteria. The bill
requires a petitioning tribe to prove:
that it and its members have been identified as
Indians since 1934;
that it has exercised political leadership over its
members since 1934;
that it has a membership roll; and
that it exists as a community by showing at least one
of the following four items: (1) distinct social
boundaries; (2) the exercise of communal rights with
respect to resources or subsistence activities; (3) the
retention of a native language or other customs; or (4)
that it is state-recognized.
The criteria in H.R. 1154 were originally drafted without
regard to the structure and requirements of the Department of
the Interior's existing acknowledgment regulations. The intent
was to return to the more flexible and predictable pre-1978
criteria because that criteria provided alternative ways for
tribes to demonstrate tribal existence. The pre-1978 criteria
was more predictable in outcome because it avoided subjective,
judgmental factors in examining tribal existence. As a
consequence, the criteria in H.R. 1154 as introduced contained
three mandatory criteria, allowed petitioning tribes to
demonstrate one of four additional criteria, and eliminated
subjective determinations of community and other indicia of
H.R. 1154 opens up the recognition process by allowing
petitioning tribes to cross-examine the reviewers of their
petitions in an adjudicatory proceeding. It is intended to
remove bias by moving the decision process to an independent
commission. This legislation also provides financial as well as
information gathering assistance to petitioning tribes.
H.R. 1154 was introduced on March 20, 1997, by Delegate Eni
Faleomavaega (D-AS). The bill was referred to the Committee on
Resources. On May 20, 1998, the Full Resources Committee met to
consider H.R. 1154. An amendment in the nature of a substitute
was offered by Delegate Faleomavaega. After the introduction of
H.R. 1154, the Administration informally indicated that it
objected to the criteria included in the bill because it would
amount to a dramatic departure from the criteria in existing
acknowledgment regulations and that it would undermine the goal
of consistency in policy in the acknowledgment area. As a
result of extensive discussions with Administration officials,
two sets of changes were made to the H.R. 1154 criteria which
are reflected in the Faleomavaega amendment and which reflect
an attempt to achieve reform without a complete break from
The first set of changes relate to the structure of the
criteria. Existing acknowledgment regulations contain seven
mandatory criteria, while H.R. 1154, as introduced, contained
fewer mandatory criteria and allowed petitioners options for
proof as to some criteria. The amendment adopts the structure
of existing regulations and thereby requires that tribes prove
the same mandatory criteria that the present acknowledgment
regulations require. The amendment uses the year 1934 as the
starting point in time for the mandatory criteria.
The second set of changes relate to the terms of the
mandatory criteria. Since the goals of reform are to shorten
the review process, make the process more open, and make the
outcome of the process more predictable, it was necessary to
tighten the criteria themselves and eliminate the need for
subjective determinations. To that end, the criteria are
redefined as follows in the amendment:
1. Indian identity is defined substantially the same as in
the acknowledgment regulations, with the exception that absence
of evidence of Indian identity resulting from official acts or
policy of the federal or relevant state government shall not be
the basis for declining acknowledgment.
2. A distinct community is defined substantially the same
as in the acknowledgment regulations. This criterion did not
appear in H.R. 1154 as introduced, but was added in the
amendment so that the criteria track those of the
acknowledgment regulations. Experience with this criterion
under the regulations shows that it requires subjective
determinations by staff, with results that appear inconsistent
from one petitioner to the next. The amendment deals with this
problem by adding quantifiable indicia that shall be deemed
conclusive proof of community, such as measurable geographic
proximity and in-marriage rates. In addition, community can be
demonstrated in the substitute amendment by certain forms of
proof of political influence, just as under the acknowledgment
regulations. As a result, in some cases criteria 2 and 3 will
merge into one.
3. Political influence is defined substantially the same as
in the acknowledgment regulations. As with community this
criterion requires subjective determinations by staff. Again,
the amendment deals with this problem by adding objective
indicia that shall be deemed conclusive proof of community,
such as a continuous line of leaders recognized by a state
4. A copy of the group's governing document is defined
substantially the same as in the acknowledgment regulations.
5. Descent from historic tribe(s) is defined substantially
the same as in the acknowledgment regulations. This criterion
has been troublesome in application since it essentially
requires a petitioner to demonstrate tribal existence from the
time of first sustained European contact, even though the other
criteria expressly require proof of each only since 1900. The
substitute amendment deals with this problem by establishing a
presumption of continuous existence that arises from proof of
descent from an Indian entity since 1934. In addition, the
substitute amendment lists types of evidence that are
acceptable for proof of descent, evidence that includes first-
hand professional research or reports about the group in
addition to genealogical records.
6. Petitioner's members are not members of other tribes is
defined substantially the same as in the acknowledgment
7. Proof that the tribe has not been terminated by Congress
appears as the seventh mandatory criterion in the
acknowledgment regulations. This requirement does not appear as
a mandatory criterion in the amendment. However, the amendment
expressly excludes terminated tribes from the Act.
The net effect of changes made to the criteria in the
amendment are twofold. First, it utilizes the basic framework
of the acknowledgment regulations by requiring that petitioners
demonstrate the same mandatory criteria. This provides for some
consistency in policy with the last 20 years administration
under the acknowledgment regulations. Second, it limits the
time period for which petitioners must demonstrate the criteria
and minimizes the need for subjective evaluation of data by
staff. This provides for a speedier process and one that
produces consistent results from one petitioner to the other.
Finally, the substitute amendment includes new provisions that
more accurately reflect the historic experience of non-
federally recognized tribes and insure that tribes will not pay
the cost for federal and state efforts to suppress or outlaw
tribalism at various times in history.
The Faleomavaega amendment was adopted by voice vote. The
bill as amended was then ordered favorably reported to the
House of Representatives by voice vote.
COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
With respect to the requirements of clause 2(l)(3) of rule
XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, and clause
2(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives,
the Committee on Resources' oversight findings and
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.
FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT
The functions of the proposed advisory committee authorized
in this bill are not currently being nor could they be
performed by one or more agencies, an advisory committee
already in existence or by enlarging the mandate of an existing
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT
Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United
States grants Congress the authority to enact H.R. 1154.
COST OF THE LEGISLATION
Clause 7(a) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the
Committee of the costs which would be incurred in carrying out
H.R. 1154. However, clause 7(d) of that rule provides that this
requirement does not apply when the Committee has included in
its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the bill
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office
under section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XI
1. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(B) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, H.R.
1154 does not contain any new budget authority, spending
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in
revenues or tax expenditures.
2. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(D) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform and
Oversight on the subject of H.R. 1154.
3. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(C) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and
section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the
Committee has received the following cost estimate for H.R.
1154 from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office.
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, June 18, 1998.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1154, the Indian
Federal Recognition Administrative Procedures Act of 1998.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Kristen
June E. O'Neill, Director.
H.R. 1154--Indian Federal Recognition Administrative Procedures Act of
H.R. 1154 would establish the Commission on Indian
Recognition and would authorize annual appropriations of $1.5
million for 1998 and the 12 succeeding fiscal years for the
commission's activities. The commission would be authorized to
accept petitions for recognition by Indian groups and
communities and to determine the status of the petitioners. In
addition, the bill would authorize annual appropriations of $3
million for 1998 and the 12 succeeding fiscal years for the
Administration for Native Americans of the Department of Health
and Human Services to provide grant assistance to petitioners.
Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO
estimates that implementing H.R. 1154 would result in
additional discretionary spending of approximately $4.5 million
in each of the next 12 fiscal years (beginning with 1999). For
the purposes of this estimate, we assume that the bill would be
enacted late in fiscal year 1998, and as a result we expect
that there would be no budgetary impact this year. Enacting
H.R. 1154 would not affect direct spending or receipts;
therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply. H.R. 1154
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as
defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would have no
significant impact on the budgets of state, local, or tribal
In addition to the authorized spending of $4.5 million a
year, implementing H.R. 1154 could have other effects on
discretionary spending. The proposed commission would replace
the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research within the Bureau of
Indian Affairs (BIA). The branch is currently responsible for
the review of petitions for tribal recognition, so enacting the
bill may result in discretionary savings of up to $1 million
each year--the amount that the branch spends under current law.
H.R. 1154 may lead to an increase in the number of tribes
that are recognized, which in turn may result in an increase in
discretionary spending. The recognition of Indian tribes under
H.R. 1154 would not create an entitlement to existing BIA
programs; any assistance provided to newly recognized tribes
would be subject to future appropriation action. In addition,
H.R. 1154 would make tribes eligible to receive compensation
for attorney fees and costs if a tribe is denied recognition by
the commission and subsequently granted recognition after a
court appeal. This compensation would be paid by the Commission
on Indian Recognition from funds made available in annual
appropriations. CBO has no basis for predicting the extent to
which additional tribes would be recognized or the amount of
any court costs that might have to be paid.
The CBO staff contact is Kristen Layman. This estimate was
approved by Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy Assistant Director for
compliance with public law 104-4
H.R. 1154 contains no unfunded mandates.
changes in existing law
If enacted, H.R. 1154 would make no changes in existing