WASHINGTON – The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs today announced new policy guidance to clarify the criteria and procedures for evaluating petitions for organization under the Alaska Indian Reorganization Act.
“The Department of the Interior is committed to protecting and strengthening Tribal sovereignty and upholding the federal government’s treaty and trust responsibilities to American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “This guidance will provide needed clarity regarding eligibility and procedures for federal recognition of entities in Alaska under the Alaska Indian Reorganization Act.”
The Alaska Indian Reorganization Act was enacted in 1936 as an amendment to the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 to allow groups of Indians in Alaska not previously recognized as bands or Tribes by the United States to organize. The amendment directed that groups must provide they can demonstrate “a common bond of occupation, or association, or residence within a well-defined neighborhood, community or rural district.”
The new policy guidance updates the criteria and process to determine eligibility for evaluating petitions for organization under the Act. The new guidance will assist the Department of the Interior in making consistent, substantive determinations as to whether an entity in Alaska is eligible to organize under the Alaska Indian Reorganization Act in a manner consistent with federal Indian law and policy.
The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs advises the Secretary of the Interior on Indian Affairs policy issues; communicates policy to and oversees the programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education, and the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration; provides leadership in consultations with Tribes; and serves as the DOI official for intra- and inter-departmental coordination and liaison within the Executive Branch on matters concerning American Indians and Alaska Natives and the federally recognized Tribes in the United States.