Monday, October 11, 2010

Shinnecock Nation's federal acknowledgment finally realized

The Shinnecock Indian Nation (Nation) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) are celebrating the October 1, 2010 decision by the U. S. Interior Board of Indian Appeals (the “IBIA”) dismissing two requests for reconsideration of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Final Determination for Federal Acknowledgment of the Nation (the “FD”), because the requesters failed to demonstrate that they were interested parties under the federal acknowledgment regulations. With the ruling, the FD is immediately effective, thereby rendering the Nation the 565th federally recognized Indian nation in the United States. NARF is proud and honored to have represented the Nation in its federal acknowledgment petition efforts during this time, along with Mark C. Tilden of the law firm Tilden McCoy, LLC.

The decision ends a 32-year saga initiated by the Nation and NARF when NARF filed the Nation’s initial petition and litigation request in 1978 with the U. S. Department of the Interior. The events in the following years finally culminated in the Department issuing a FD dated June 13, 2010 concluding that the Nation met the seven mandatory federal acknowledgment criteria under 25 C.F.R. § 83.7. (See 75 Fed. Reg. 34,760 (June 18, 2010)). The FD was challenged in the IBIA by the requesters who claimed to be interested parties. But, the IBIA rejected their challenges.

Chairman Randy King of the Nation's Board of Trustees eloquently stated, "After 32 years, the Shinnecock Indian Nation has finally obtained formal federal acknowledgment, thus closing a long chapter on the Nation's epic struggle. The Native American Rights Fund was part of this effort and the Nation is grateful that it crossed the finish line with NARF by its side.”

John Echohawk, NARF Executive Director, reflected on the long fight by his modern day warriors, the NARF attorneys, lamenting “It took forever to achieve federal acknowledgment for Shinnecock, but with the persistence of the Nation and the expertise of former NARF attorney Mark Tilden and NARF attorney Kim Gottschalk, we finally got it done.”

The Shinnecock Indian Nation is located on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, adjacent to Southampton, New York.