Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva
SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA—Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva on Monday hailed the newly announced Interior Department (DOI) process for formally recognizing American Indian tribes. The process, announced in a rulemaking on the so-called Part 83 process for DOI to recognize a tribe at the federal level, will reduce wait times for petitioning Indian Country communities and clarify recognition procedures.
The rule was prepared by DOI Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn. A fact sheet on the new rule’s highlights is available at http://1.usa.gov/1Io7J2j.
Grijalva spoke Monday at the National Congress of American Indians mid-year conference in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on the importance of proper federal government-to-government relations with tribes, among other issues.
The rule comes as congressional Republicans continue to claim without evidence that DOI wants to loosen recognition rules and “invent” new tribes. Under chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs held an April 22 hearing on the tribal recognition process titled “The Obama Administration’s Part 83 Revisions and How They May Allow the Interior Department to Create Tribes, not Recognize Them.”
“Years of uncertainty have left too many Native American communities in limbo, and today’s rule gives them the clear path forward they need,” Grijalva said. “The Interior Department made the right choice for Indian Country and the nation, and I congratulate Assistant Secretary Washburn and his team on the results of their hard work. Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues have preferred to treat Indian Country like an unwelcome guest at the dinner table rather than a sovereign decision-making partner. Their sky-is-falling rhetoric about inventing new tribes is paternalistic and inappropriate, and I join with many Native American tribes, nations and communities in hoping they’ll change their attitude. Today’s rule is a good opportunity to start working with tribes instead of treating them as political hostages. I hope they take it.”
Grijalva said Congress should focus on solving actual problems, like establishing a permanent Carcieri fix to solve longstanding tribal land acquisition issues, rather than “continuing to create political hurdles for Indian Country in the name of responsible oversight.”