Lawmakers urge more study of US tribal recognition changes

Mar 26, 2015 2:03 PM by News Staff

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Several congressional members are calling on the U.S. Interior Department to slow down an overhaul of the rules for recognizing American Indian tribes, saying more study is needed of problems that could result from changing the rules.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter with four other lawmakers outlining their concerns. They say the changes to the criteria for tribal recognition are "sweeping" and they do not support them.

Federal recognition has been granted to 566 American tribes. The Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs proposed new rules in 2013 to make tribal acknowledgment more transparent and the process more efficient. The rules haven't been changed in two decades.

A department spokeswoman says the agency is reviewing the letter.

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