tv [untitled] June 28, 2012 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT
recognition to which they have long awaited. with that i introduce chairwoman, ann tucker. >> miss tucker, thank you. if you've been doing this for 30 years you must have started in elementary school. you're welcome to speak. >> chairman young, ranking member lujan, honorable committee members. i'm chairwoman ann tucker of the florida tribe of eastern creek indians. i want to thank congressman miller for being here and for his continued support of this tribe's recognition. we are the people known as petitioner 32 to the office of federal in 1978 when 83 .7 was created, there were 40 tribes with evidence already filed in the bia. we were one of those tribes. they have lived there since 1861. we have indian people who have lived together, worked together,
married one another, buried one another, and kept our traditions through the harshest of circumstances. in florida there's no commission to keep records on indian people. no treaties and no state reservations. we did not have a federal indian tribe until 1957, when seminole tribe of florida was recognized by congressional action. the same year the elders of our tribe received notice that they would share in land claim settlement. we have struggled for 34 years in the current process. the bia does not grandfather in petitioners. our papers were returned in 1978 with new guidelines and a letter telling us to start over. we have started over many times. and we have seen many things. we are a poor tribe that can no longer adjust our petitioning document from the procedural changes caused by court cases, interior findings or new directives on how tcriteria are evaluated. what with know about the process is that a lack of the select
standardized documentation for every decade from 1900 to present, from river swamps in northwest florida, does not mean that we did not continuously exist as an indon tribe. this will not reflect who we are, because in 1852, it became illegal under penalty of death to be an indian living freely in the state of florida. that's a law that stayed on our books until the 1965 civil rights act. we were racially terminated. we moved to active consideration status on december 5th last year. we are grateful for a grant from the administration from native americans that enabled staff to fiscal means to send 14 more boxes of revised data and cds. after 4 years, we know we're too fiscally challenged to compete in what we've watched the process become over the last 20 years. my testimony must address why our tribe has hr-2591 introduced
for federal recognition. we did not petition congress to circumvent the administrative process. people that only support tribal recognition through the singular process are people who support a process, determined to be broken 11 years ago. there have been many hearings, but today i find my people are in the same process with the same issues, in the same offices. the only difference is this time the broken process will be used to determine this tribe's sovereign future. even if we receive a positive finding from the ofa, that does not mean we'll be federally reck recognized. the last tribe was turned down by interior. after generations who lived through andrew jackson's removal policies, racial eradication, litigation for reidentification, and a broken process that cannot be fixed, our question has
changed. it's become one of who really make this is decision based on what else? today we had no contact with the three people assigned to the petition. they are looking at the government paper, instead of visiting on site with the tribal government to understand how we functioned and survived. we are concerned that an expedited process means criteria "a" will be used to discriminate us for the mandatory evidence that is required. the 1947 land claims gave my great grandfather a vehicle to stand, challenge and change interior's historical attitude that there were no indians left in northwest florida. we are still here, and it was not easy. we have petitions congress for relief because we have no choice. we can be contempt to be eliminated in the ofa process based on gaps created by state
statutes, or we can come here. we can sit around until another process is created for us to start over in, or we can come to congress. we can be a tribal government whose hands are tied while our impoverished people live in substandard conditions, or we can ask you for immediate relief and honor that comes from a government to government relationship, using the same legislative methods that many tribes east of the mississippi have depended on. when the mechanism used by the agent is broken, as the ga or report states, then our only alternative is to place our case at your door. we're the oldest petitioner left. and if we fail in this process, it will be because we are exactly what we claim to be, an indian tribal community and tribal government that moves separate and extinct in a world by the law. i respectfully request this committee approve hr-2591. we have participated in the process long enough to know that
our fate lies in your actions. thank you for allowing us here today. >> thank you, ranking member. my name is raymond weaver. and i am the elected travel chief of the indians. today i would like to say a few words about what the process has done to us. . it was the only tribe in the nation to exhaust all three remnants made available for the status. or for a federal lawsuit, congressional bills, we are well aware of the inherent bias, corruption, and how the finance
campaigns waged against legitimate historic nonfederal tribes. we are the second longest petition tribe in the nation. only tnorth carolina has petitions longer. our federal recognition began with our mass community attempt to be admitted in. with numerous appeals. we are will not ally ourselves to numerous suitors. some may call this ignorant. we choose to call it what it is, integrity. the only avenue for defining the
government relationship is with the united states congress. congress must make determinations based on facts and facts only. no back door letters from federal tibs attempting to defend the gaming zones. we will discuss only a small number here. they will document this. this should be based on the federal register immediately.
this should be raised on active consideration immediately. the language should be irrefutable proof. it's highly important in determinations. the tribal communities in the east and in the south particular, must be a large and completely eliminated. two examples are cited. and this is is in written testimony. i won't go there. but the evidence should be included. and tribes who petition in the gaming era should not have any tribes be able to comment on their petition in any form. congress needs to apoin an independent board of approximately 10 to 20 individuals within an even mix on federal and nonfederal tribal members with expertise in various academic and research
areas. after review -- after review of the tribes, the ones who meet one or more of the following criteria should be moved in front of the line. for consideration. all tribes who are firmly denied recognition can show an association with any of the nine criteria should be evaluated. and these nine criteria all attending boarding school, having a state recognized or a mission. a language retention. bia or oia funded schooling community during the era. pre1970 state recognition. prohibition from area black and white schools. like most tribes we attended a third school session. we were not attend a black or
white school. long standing petitions for federal recognition, which could at the the beginning of the process in 1978 prior to this time period. -- the organization such as ncai. they may have been received from positionals in the field of anthropology, genology. i would like to take this opportunity to thank the committee and for having this opportunity mr. chairman and mr. ranking committee member. we have suffered dearly under this process. it's expensive. it's cost millions of dollars. the funds available to nonfederally recognized tribes are about $65,000 a year rent
from a&a, if you meet the criteria to get it. it's competitive. so you may or may not get it. so thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. foreman. the honorable diane dilon, supervisor in napa county district three. >> thank you very much drik cha district chairman and members of the sub committee. i'm one of five elected supervisors in the county of napa. we are the legislative and executive authority in the county. in the executive role, we approve budgets and supervisor the budget of the county officers and employees, and most relevant to you today in the legislative capacity, we make land use decisions. how and when tribes should be recognized. our issue is not about whether a tribe should be recognized. our issue is about how tribes are recognized. i'm very grateful to be able to
be here on both napa county and our neighbor sonoma county on the issue that we believe is of interest to the sub committee. the focus is on the the process and the issue of congressional authority. we submitted nine pages of written testimony. in short, we believe that the lawsuits, lawsuits by congressionally terminated california indian tribes. in which the tribes asked the federal district courts to restore the government-to-government relationship. and in which court cases the department of interior acquesces to those requests. under the constitution congress alone has the authority to reestablish a government to government relationship be with tribes following termination by congress. congress exempted the tribal
restoration power when it delegated other powers to the department of interior. but despite the clear separation of powers, the department of interior facilitates restoration by inviting tribes to sue the department. and then the department stipulates to a settlement, restoring the tribe. in this way, the department of interior achieves through orchestrated and unopposed litigation what you have not given them permission to doed a mrtdively. it is de facto a violation of the separation of powers. we understand that there are tribal representatives here to register complaints about how long it takes the bureau of indian affairs to decide whether or not to request the be acknowledged or recognized as an indian tribe, and we understand the frustrations. that does not have to do with
the orderly deliberate, time intensive of tribal recognition by the bureau of indian affairs. entity, claiming to be a successor and interest to a tribe terminated by congress, turns around and sues the united states to have the terminated status overturned. the legal claims are substituted for the indian affairs established tribal recognition regulations. it may come as a surprise to many of you ha the tribal applicants who sue often find a friend a friend with the senior government officials. they are partners who are prepared to stipulate restoration without advancing available legal defenses or even testing the alleged successor
and interest relationship to the terminated tribe. we show them examining the role as a defendant and acting to accomplish through litigation what they cannot accomplish through administrative action. that's a violation of constitutional amendments. it violates the separation of powers. our reviews on this derive from our experience of litigation in the northern district court of california. the federal government has not advanced any of the defenses that a normal defendant would advance. e there's a claim for land involved in the lawsuit that is not related to the recognition.
the tribe was directed to go to court by assistant secretary larry echohawk, when he said to them in a letter in 2009 that he could not -- the bia could not restore their tribal status. he was correct when he asserted they department have authority to restore the tribal status. he is trying to get them to do something that congress has not given the authority to do. so you have many issues here today which with you are presented. we would ask that you do not see the authority to bureau of ipdian affairs or seat the authority to the courts, an authority that you have alone, which is to restore tribes that have been previously terminated by this congress. thank you very much. >> thank you for your testimony. one of the reasons i'm having this hearing i do believe we
have been neglectful as a congress. it's with the congress, not with the executive branch, to do action or not to do action. and that's something that concerns me. by anyone but the department. so i have a great interest in this. chairwoman tucker, you stated in your testimony that the administrative acknowledgment process is broken, yet your tribe continues to pursue the path to recognition, while also seeking legislative action that would establish tribal federal status. is this parallel track necessary, and in also listening to your testimony have you been discouraged or admonished for
seeking administrative relief as swell? >> we have tried since we started to work administratively because you hate to admit that the system is broken. we were notified by the bureau of indian affairs that the process had changed. we were notified. it said we developed a set of guidelines now, and we want you to start over. we weren't dissuaded about coming here. it just seems like people wanted an administrative recognition. in 2001 when the report came out from the gao, my tribal government met, and we determined at that time that we would begin the work to petition congress for the recognition.
florida is a big stateful and we've had a lot of support from our senator and especially from congressman miller, who is from northwest florida. if guideline become mandatory criteria, we can't meet what a state didn't allow us to be. so that's why we're here. >> thank you. i appreciate that very much. and chief adkins, in your written testimony -- >> turn your mike on. >> chief adkins, in your written testimony you state that in the administrative process fails to recognize that one size does not necessarily fit all in the acknowledgement process. can you explain in what ways you believe that it fails to do so? >> the -- the administrative process asks for documentation that -- that we just can't
produce because of the destroyed courthouses that had our vital statistics, because of a state that went through and sought to destroy all vital statistics that referred to us as indian people. even when the indian reorganization act was put in play as it was called, the -- the head of the bureau of vital statistics said there's no indians in virginia. despite that, government officials came to virginia. they interviewed people. they photographed places and things, and they said these folks are indians, even at that. the bureaucracy that had been created in the state precluded us from being part of that, so -- so as you look at those seven criteria that have kind of become iron-clad, we don't fit into it, and that's why i say one size doesn't fit all.
our situation is essential like the one described by ann tucker, the chairwoman of the muss cokie nation. we're fighting that behemoth of those situations that don't want to move. >> you certainly are owed an apology as miss tucker is when we talk about laws when people were arrested for people saying they were native american, what a tragedy and a shame that we need to find a way to correct. >> my parents had to come to washington, d.c. in 1935 to be married as indians. they faced jail time had they done it in virginia. >> i read that in your testimony. i appreciate you telling us that as well. supervisor dillon, if a tribe is not terminated, should they be allowed to pursue administrative relief? >> i believe that that is what the law already states. >> i appreciate that. mr. gabaldon, is it your assertion that you feel that your tribe was never terminated?
>> no. we believe we were terminated in 1959, but it was by a non-wappo indian. >> i appreciate that very much. thank you very much, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> mr. denham. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me first start by saying it is very disappointing to see that secretary saldsary and the we'ro of indian affairs has not engaged this committee on this important issue. this is -- i mean, this is and always has been an act of congress under the constitution, but without the administration working with congress, it makes it tremendously difficult to create an even playing field and certainly to move forward on this matter. so i -- i would continue to press the b.i.a. and secretary salazar to engage this committee so we can come to resolution on some of these issues. first, chairman gabldon, i want to understand your issue of termination. more specifically, you were --
you were terminated through an act of congress? >> we were terminated by the california ranch act as 41 other tribes were in california. >> and it wasn't restored under the tillie hardwick decision? >> no, sir. we were part of that case, and we were dropped off that case in 1987 with no prejudices. >> why? why wasn't -- >> well, we believe the tillie hardwick case was based on land allotments and the people that hand land allotments were part of that, because a non-wappo indian owned the land we were supposed to have, we didn't have any land allotments to proceed with that case. >> and so to you hope to seek recognition to eventually get land into trust? >> well, the benefits -- yes, to -- land into trust and get the benefits of other federal recognized tribes around the nation. >> and have you asked your
congressman to introduce legislation so that you can get that -- that federal recognition? >> we have, and actually we've done multiple times, and over the years we've seen -- i'll give you a brief background. 2000, our leadership was working hard. actually we were on the bill with greatin in 2000 and we were dropped off. again, the bill was passed, and we weren't on it. why? i don't know, but our leadership in 2000 was working hard on a bill similar and challenges in the political realm. part because lynn woolsey wouldn't take our bill because she felt she was double crossed by greaton. mike thompson stated we need local support before we take a bill to congress and we can see with all the local -- >> don't bring members into this right now, and you can get that testimony later on because we'll say he said, she said and i
said. >> well, i have paper. >> you can submit that, if you wish to do, for the record. >> no worries. let's just say we tried to go through congress. >> you tried to do it. >> okay. >> and so why did you decide to seek litigation rather than going through congress? >> well, we didn't only try to seek going through congress. we also tried the -- the ofa process, but according to 25 cfr-83g makes a california ranch reia act terminated tribes ineligible to go through the petition process. we've also asked for administration restoration like the island ban was, and -- and so, like i said, we also tried through congress in 2000 with a bill. i mean, we went through the courts because we felt it was the last option. in our area there is a tribe, and i believe it was no fault of theirs, it put a sour taste in
congress for other tribes, and we are the last tribe to be recognized, and this is a quote from the accip report which congress paid for, approved, and the -- the quote says this. the wilton niwak indian community, the fed rated of great ranch reia and the tribe of alexandria meet the criteria for restoration and should be immediately restored. both wilton and greaton have been restored. greaton was restored in 2000 by an act of congress and wilton in 2009 using the same unavoidable process we're going through now. >> and you've engaged the administration on this? again, i wish that the secretary felt that it was important to be here today to address this issue, but it's my understanding that you did address the b.i.a. and attempted to go that route as well? >> we have a letter here that
says although we disagree with him not having administration power to restore us, because it has been done in the past, he recommended congress or courts, and we've seen the results of trying to go through congress to be restored, and i was going to mention some names. we won't do that. >> thank you. >> but we -- there was no other option left for us except the courts which, as i mentioned before, as a neutral party, that will determine what lawization for an illegal termination. >> thank you, and i'm about out of time, but let me just ask you if you could briefly respond. if you were able to get federal recognition and put land into trust, what would your plans be for that land? >> our plans would be to build housing. we'd do economic development of many sorts. i don't truly believe that the only way for economic development for a tribe is through a casino, although it's the most economical way and the fastest way to do it. i believe my tribe has the knowledge and business background to improve the
quality of life for the tribal members, not only through a casino or whatever but through many different economic development opportunities. >> thank you. >> mr. kildee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you very much. for 48 years now i've been involved in trying to bring justice to the sovereign tribes, indians of this country, and they are sovereign. i have two citizenships. i'm a citizen of the state of michigan, and i'm a citizen of the united states. you have three real sovereign citizenships. you are citizens of the united states. you've shown that certainly during our wars, in numbers. many of you fought. your a citizen of the state in