Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Rules Could Help Four Oklahoma Tribes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Rules Could Help Four Oklahoma Tribes

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Four tribes in Oklahoma previously sent letters of intent to petition for federal recognition, and could now benefit from the new regulations created by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The United Band of the Western Cherokee Nation in Moore, the Cheyenne Nation in Longdale, the United Chickamungwa Band in Wister, and the Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band in Moore sent letters of intent dating back to 2003, according to the Department of the Interior.

Freedmen Band spokeswoman Gail Jackson said the tribe filed its petition in January 2012, and a year later received a request from the U.S. Department of the Interior for more details regarding the nation's political continuity.

"We submitted 8,000 documents in the petition," she said. "We were good at research."

The tribe had to provide historical data that it was recognized as an entity by 1900. Jackson said the application had that information.

"We need to respond to the last answer to the technical assistance because we disagree with their conclusions and some of their alarms raised," she said.

Under the new regulations, if the tribe is denied federal status, it can ask for a court hearing with an administrative law judge. Professor Bob Anderson at the University of Washington School of Law previously helped some tribes with the application process while working for the Department of the Interior.

He said one of the highlights of the changes is the transparency, which will allow documents submitted by the petitioning group to be seen online. He said the court hearing is another positive change. Otherwise, the updates do not change the requirements in any substantive way.

Anderson said there seems to be an increase in tribes wanting to be recognized since Indian gambling has become popular. But most recently recognized tribes are not going into gambling, he said.

"Very often these petitioners are located in geographically isolated areas where you don't have a big gaming prospect," he said. …

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