U.S. proposes new rules for federal recognition of Indian tribes

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn have announced publication of proposed revisions of the federal-recognition process for Indian tribes. 

The revisions would promote efficiency by requiring a petitioning tribe to show community and political influence/authority from 1934 to the present rather than from as early as 1789; and eliminate the need for a petitioner to demonstrate that third parties identified the petitioner as a tribe from 1900 to the present, according to an Interior Department news release. 

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and local officials in Connecticut have opposed adoption of what they consider a relaxation of the standards for recognition. The changes, if approved, are expected to prompt the Eastern Pequots of North Stonington and two other Connecticut tribes to renew their pursuit of federal recognition. 

Only federally recognized tribes can seek to operate a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. 

The Interior Department will conduct public meetings on the proposed rules in July.

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