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It’s helpful to note that since the rules were published in 1978, 30 tribes have been recognized by Congress, as opposed to the 17 recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In June the BIA began taking comments on how to make its recognition process less expensive, inflexible and burdensome as well as more transparent. This includes expedited review and the ability for tribes previously denied federal acknowledgment to re-petition.
The BIA says it’s committed to moving as quickly as possible to making fixes to the regulations but at this time has no clear date for when those proposed changes could be published, let alone ready for public comment.
That means until the process is streamlined, tribes like the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape will continue waiting for acknowledgment from the federal government.
“We’re just interested in being able to preserve who we are, and the ability to do that means the ability to continue to govern ourselves in effective ways without constantly being challenged by outside powers,” said the Rev. Norwood. “People like the dead Indians, the Indians of the past, and they like those of us who carry that bloodline to still act like we’re in the past. But to deal with the very real political struggles we have today? Not interested.”