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Assistant Secretary Washburn Testifies about the FAP

posted Jul 5, 2013, 2:30 PM by John Norwood


    On March 19th, 2013, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, appeared before the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs and a hearing on "Authorization, Standards, and Procedures for Whether, How, and When Indian Tribes Should be Newly Recognized by the Federal Government."  The previous invitation from the subcommittee has been either declined or ignored in July 2012, when several tribal leaders testified on the same topic.  Asst. Sec. Washburn's comments were greatly anticipated, given his previous pledges to improve the current unjust and highly criticized Federal Acknowledgment Process (FAP).  Included in his comments were the following... 

    "Some have criticized the Part 83 Process as expensive, inefficient, burdensome, intrusive, less than transparent and unpredictable. The Department is aware of these critiques and, as we have previously indicated, we are reviewing our existing regulations to consider ways to improve the process to address these criticisms. Based upon our review, which includes consideration of the views expressed by members of Congress, former Department officials, petitioners, subject
matter experts, tribes and interested parties, we believe improvements must address certain guiding principles:

  • Transparency – Ensuring that standards are objective and that the process is open and is easily understood by petitioning groups and interested parties.
  • Timeliness – Moving petitions through the process, responding to requests for information, and reaching decisions as soon as possible, while ensuring that the appropriate level of review has been conducted.
  • Efficiency – Conducting our review of petitions to maximize federal resources and to be mindful of the resources available to petitioning groups. 
  • Flexibility – Understanding the unique history of each tribal community, and avoiding the rigid application of standards that do not account for the unique histories of tribal communities.

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