[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 62 (Friday, March 30, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 19315-19317]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7646]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Indian Affairs


Final Determination Against Federal Acknowledgment of the Central 
Band of Cherokee

AGENCY: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of final determination.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the Department of the Interior 
(Department) declines to acknowledge that the petitioner known as the 
``Central Band of Cherokee'' (formerly known as the ``Cherokees of 
Lawrence County, Tennessee''), Petitioner 227, is an Indian 
tribe within the meaning of

[[Page 19316]]

Federal law. This notice is based on a determination that the 
petitioner does not meet one of the seven mandatory criteria for a 
government-to-government relationship with the United States. The 
Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA) produced a Summary under the 
Criterion as the basis for this final determination (FD).

DATES: This determination is final and will become effective on June 
28, 2012, unless a request for reconsideration is filed with the 
Interior Board of Indian Appeals.

ADDRESSES: Requests for a copy of the FD should be addressed to the 
Office of the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs, Attention: Office of 
Federal Acknowledgment, 1951 Constitution Avenue NW., MS: 34B-SIB, 
Washington, DC 20240. The FD and Federal Register notice are also 
available at the OFA section of the Indian Affairs Web site at 
www.bia.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alycon T. Pierce, Acting Director, 
Office of Federal Acknowledgment, (202) 513-7650.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department declines to acknowledge 
``Central Band of Cherokee'' (CBC), Petitioner 227, c/o Mr. 
Johnny L. Corbin, P.O. Box 331, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee 38464, as an 
Indian tribe within the meaning of Federal law. This notice is based on 
a determination that the petitioner does not meet one of the seven 
mandatory criteria set forth in 25 CFR 83.7, specifically criterion 
83.7(e).
    The Department issued a proposed finding (PF) on August 6, 2010, 
proposing to deny acknowledgment of the petitioner under one criterion 
as permitted by Sec.  83.10(e)(1). The PF found the CBC petitioner was 
not an Indian tribe within the meaning of Federal law because the 
petitioner did not meet criterion 83.7(e). This criterion requires that 
the petitioner's membership consists of individuals who descend from a 
historical Indian tribe or from historical Indian tribes that combined 
and functioned as a single autonomous political entity. The review of 
the evidence for the PF clearly established that the petitioner did not 
meet criterion 83.7(e) because none of the 407 members demonstrated 
descent from a historical Indian tribe.
    The Department published a notice of the PF in the Federal Register 
on August 18, 2010 (75 FR 51105). Publishing the notice initiated a 
180-day comment period during which time the petitioner, interested and 
informed parties, and the general public could submit arguments and 
evidence to support or rebut the PF. In response to the PF, the 
petitioner or third parties needed to provide evidence for the FD that 
the petitioner meets the criterion in question under the reasonable 
likelihood standard in Sec.  83.6(d). The CBC's comment period ended on 
February 14, 2011. The Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs (AS-IA) 
found good cause to reopen the comment period and extend it for an 
additional 180 days to August 15, 2011. The period for the petitioner 
to respond to third party comments ended on January 7, 2012.
    On January 4, 2012, the petitioner requested to withdraw from the 
acknowledgment process. The regulations provide that once active 
consideration of the documented petition has begun, the AS-IA shall 
continue the review and publish proposed findings and a final 
determination, notwithstanding any request to cease consideration 
(Sec.  83.10(g)). The CBC petitioner went on active consideration on 
August 6, 2010, when the AS-IA issued the PF. Therefore, the OFA 
notified Petitioner 227 and interested and informed parties 
that the Department would begin work on a FD on January 23, 2012.
    In order to meet criterion 83.7(e), a petitioner must demonstrate 
that its current members descend from a historical Indian tribe or 
historical Indian tribes that combined and functioned as an autonomous 
political entity. Thus, the petitioner must: (1) Identify its current 
members; (2) document the historical Indian tribe and the individuals 
in that historical Indian tribe from whom the petitioner's current 
members descend; and (3) document, generation-to-generation, the 
members' descent from the historical Indian tribe.
    The membership list used for the FD is the November 20, 2007, list 
that was separately certified by the group's governing body and used 
for the PF. It identified 407 members of the group by full name, birth 
date, and residential address. Having no other certified membership 
list, the Department continued to use the 2007 list for the FD.
    The petitioner claims its members are descendants of Cherokee 
Indians who allegedly remained in Tennessee after 1806 when the 
historical Indian tribe ceded its lands by treaty, or from Indians who 
returned to ``their traditional lands'' in the area of Lawrence County, 
Tennessee, after evading or escaping from the Cherokee removal in the 
late 1830s. There is no primary or reliable secondary evidence to 
validate these claims.
    The Department identified the Cherokee Indian rolls taken in the 
1800s and early 1900s that would most likely include the petitioner's 
ancestors if they were members of the historical Cherokee tribe at that 
time. However, the Department's researchers did not find, and the CBC 
petitioner and third party commenters did not provide evidence, that 
any of the petitioner's members or ancestors were on any of these 
historical rolls.
    The petitioner's comments on the PF included a request that OFA 
review its members' genealogies, but did not provide any new evidence 
for the FD that addresses criterion 83.7(e).
    The majority of the third party comments were submitted by the 
group's former leader, Joe H. White. His submissions verified some 
facts about his own family. However, none of his submissions 
demonstrated his ancestors were Cherokee Indians or members of a 
historical Indian tribe. He and the other third party commenter 
submitted undocumented descent reports on family lines that were not 
named in the records for the PF. There is no evidence that any of the 
individuals newly identified in these reports are members of the CBC, 
or that the historical figures named in the reports are ancestors of 
CBC members.
    Genealogical charts or descent reports for about 53 percent (219 of 
407) of the CBC members illustrate their claimed descent from 
historical individuals but their descent is not documented. This 
submission does not satisfy the requirements of criterion 83.7(e) for 
two reasons: (1) The petitioner has not demonstrated the generation-to-
generation links between these members and their claimed ancestors; and 
(2) the claimed ancestors have not been demonstrated to be members or 
descendants of a historical Indian tribe. Even if these 219 individuals 
had documented their claimed descent from a historical Indian tribe, 
such a low percent of descent (53 percent) would not satisfy the 
requirements of criterion 83.7(e). No petitioner for Federal 
acknowledgment has satisfied the requirements of the criterion with 
less than 80 percent of its members demonstrating descent from the 
historical Indian tribe.
    The petitioner's other comments on the PF were a letter and two 
exhibits that it characterized as ``recognition'' by the Federal 
government and the State of Tennessee. The first exhibit was a 2009 
Federal District Court ruling that granted the CBC corporation use of a 
trademark ``for purposes at its museum, only in the state of 
Tennessee.'' The second exhibit was a June 2010 certificate of 
recognition from the Tennessee Commission of Indian

[[Page 19317]]

Affairs, which the PF had found did not provide evidence of Indian 
descent. These two exhibits did not provide evidence applicable to 
criterion 83.7(e).
    Both of the third parties submitted articles on general Cherokee 
Indian history, DNA as evidence, and other non-responsive issues. These 
submissions were either the same as or similar to the documents 
analyzed for the PF and did not provide evidence for criterion 83.7(e).
    In summary, Petitioner 227 has not provided evidence to 
demonstrate that its ancestors who were named in the PF, or others 
identified in records submitted for the FD, were members of a band of 
Cherokee Indians in Lawrence County. The records do not demonstrate 
that the petitioner's ancestors were members or descendants of an 
Indian tribe in any of the localities where those individuals 
originated prior to settling in Tennessee. The evidence for the FD, 
whether submitted by the petitioner or third parties, or gathered by 
the OFA in its verification process, does not document the current 
members' generation-to-generation descent from their claimed ancestors. 
The evidence shows that the group known as the ``Central Band of 
Cherokee'' is a recently formed group of individuals who claim to have 
Indian ancestry from a historical Indian tribe, but who have not 
documented those claims. None of the 407 members of the group has 
demonstrated descent from a historical Indian tribe or historical 
Indian tribes that combined and functioned as an autonomous political 
entity.
    The Department declines to acknowledge the group known as the 
``Central Band of Cherokee,'' Petitioner 227, as an Indian 
tribe because the evidence in the record does not demonstrate that the 
petitioner's members descend from a historical Indian tribe as required 
by mandatory criterion 83.7(e). The Department bases this FD on an 
evaluation of materials the petitioner and third parties submitted in 
response to the PF, and materials already in the record for the PF. 
This FD also incorporates evidence the Department researchers developed 
during the verification process. Therefore, this FD should be read and 
considered in conjunction with the PF.
    A copy of the FD that includes the summary evaluation under the 
criteria and provides the evidence, reasoning, and analyses for the FD 
will be provided to the petitioner and interested parties, and is 
available to other parties upon written request. It will be posted on 
the Bureau of Indian Affairs Web site at: http://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/AS-IA/OFA/RecentCases/index.htm. Requests for a copy of the FD should 
be addressed to the office listed in the ADDRESSES section of this 
notice.
    After the publication of this notice of the FD in the Federal 
Register, the petitioner or any interested party may file a request for 
reconsideration with the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA) under 
the procedures in Sec.  83.11 of the regulations. The IBIA must receive 
this request no later than 90 days after the publication of the FD in 
the Federal Register. The FD will become final and effective 90 days 
from the Federal Register publication, unless a request for 
reconsideration is received within that time.

    Dated: March 23, 2012.
Larry Echo Hawk,
Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2012-7646 Filed 3-29-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-G1-P