A letter of intent to petition is no longer required or accepted under the current regulations. Instead, there are four (4) elements required for a documented petition to be considered complete. Incomplete petitions will not be evaluated. The following excerpt from 25 CFR Part 83 details the four (4) required elements:
§ 83.21 What must a documented petition include?
(a) The documented petition may be in any readable form and must include the following:
(1) A certification, signed and dated by the petitioner’s governing body, stating that it is the petitioner’s official documented petition;
(2) A concise written narrative, with citations to supporting documentation, thoroughly explaining how the petitioner meets each of the criteria in § 83.11, except the Congressional Termination Criterion (§ 83.11 (g))—
(i) If the petitioner chooses to provide explanations of and supporting documentation for the Congressional Termination Criterion (§ 83.11 (g)), the Department will accept it; but
(ii) The Department will conduct the research necessary to determine whether the petitioner meets the Congressional Termination Criterion (§ 83.11 (g)).
(3) Supporting documentation cited in the written narrative and containing specific, detailed evidence that the petitioner meets each of the criteria in § 83.11;
(4) Membership lists and explanations, including:
(i) An official current membership list, separately certified by the petitioner’s governing body, of all known current members of the petitioner, including each member’s full name (including maiden name, if any), date of birth, and current residential address;
(ii) A statement describing the circumstances surrounding the preparation of the current membership list;
(iii) A copy of each available former list of members based on the petitioner’s own defined criteria; and
(iv) A statement describing the circumstances surrounding the preparation of the former membership lists, insofar as possible.
(b) If the documented petition contains any information that is protectable under Federal law such as the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act, the petitioner must provide a redacted version, an unredacted version of the relevant pages, and an explanation of the legal basis for withholding such information from public release. The Department will not publicly release information that is protectable under Federal law, but may release redacted information if not protectable under Federal law.
Where to Submit
Prospective petitioners must submit the original signed and dated certification of the petition and a separate certification of the current membership list. OFA strongly recommends that prospective petitioners contact OFA prior to submission for additional guidance pertaining to final preparation of submission materials. Submissions can be sent to OFA at the following address:
Department of the Interior
Office of the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs
Attention: Office of Federal Acknowledgment
Mail Stop 4071 MIB
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
Telephone: (202) 513-7650
Telefax: (202) 219-3008
The following resources can assist you with preparing your complete documented petition:
- Documented Petition Description with a Suggested Outline for Concise Written Narrative (.pdf)
- Resource 1 for Redacting Information Protectable under Federal law
- Resource 2 for Redacting Information Protectable under Federal law
Contact Us for Assistance
OFA encourages prospective petitioners to contact our office at any time with questions regarding the preparation and submission of your petition materials.