[Federal Register Volume 60, Number 104 (Wednesday, May 31, 1995)]
[Pages 28480-28481]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 95-13171]

[[Page 28479]]


Part VI

Department of the Interior


Bureau of Indian Affairs


Indian Tribes, Acknowledgement of Existence Determinations for the Jena 
Band of Choctaw Indians and the Huron Potawatomi, Inc.; Notices

Federal Register / Vol. 60, No. 104 / Wednesday, May 31, 1995 / 
[[Page 28480]] 


Bureau of Indian Affairs

Final Determination for Federal Acknowledgment of the Jena Band 
of Choctaw Indians

Agency: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

Action: Notice of Final Determination.


SUMMARY: This notice is published in the exercise of authority 
delegated by the Secretary of the Interior to the Assistant Secretary--
Indian Affairs (Assistant Secretary) by 209 DM 8.
    Pursuant to 25 CFR Sec. 83.10(m), notice is hereby given that the 
Assistant Secretary acknowledges that the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians 
(Jena Choctaw), c/o Mr. Jerry D. Jackson, P.O. Box 14, Jena, Louisiana 
71342-0014, exists as an Indian tribe within the meaning of Federal 
law. This notice is based on a determination that the group satisfies 
the criteria set forth in 25 CFR Sec. 83.7.

DATES: This determination is final and will become effective 90 days 
from publication of the final determination, pursuant to 25 CFR 83.10 
(l)(4), unless a request for reconsideration is filed pursuant to 25 
CFR 83.11.
    A notice of the proposed finding to acknowledge the Jena Choctaw 
was published in the Federal Register on October 31, 1994 (Vol. 59, pt. 
II, No. 209, pp. 54496-7). The 180-day period provided for in the 
regulations for comment on the proposed finding closed April 29, 1995. 
This determination is made following a review of the public comments on 
the proposed finding to acknowledge the tribe.
    The Jena Choctaw submitted a new membership roll during the comment 
period. There were no substantial comments or evidence submitted by 
interested parties or informed parties during the comment period. A 
letter supporting the proposed finding and recognition of the Jena 
Choctaw was submitted by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. 
Limited comments, not containing substantive new evidence or arguments, 
were received from two other parties. None of the comments refuted the 
proposed finding. The comments were considered but were determined to 
have no effect on the findings of fact or the decision to acknowledge 
the tribe. The Jena Choctaw by tribal council resolution of April 29, 
1995, stated they had no response to the comments received and 
requested that the BIA waive the 60-day response period provided under 
25 CFR 83.10 (k).
    The proposed finding to acknowledge the Jena Choctaw determined 
that the petitioner fully met all seven of the criteria. The final 
determination affirms the proposed finding. It is based on the 
extensive evidence submitted by the Jena Choctaw or generated by the 
Branch of Acknowledgment and Research in the conduct of its own 
research in preparing the proposed finding and on a consideration of 
the new membership roll.
    The Jena Choctaw directly descends from Choctaws who left the 
historic Mississippi Choctaw tribe and settled in Catahoula Parish, now 
LaSalle Parish, in the vicinity of Jena, Louisiana, prior to 1880 when 
they were first identified by the Federal census. The linguist Albert 
Gatschet reported finding three Choctaw families living in log huts on 
Trout Creek, Catahoula Parish in 1886. They were known locally as the 
Eden Indians, the Choctaw Indians on Trout Creek, and the Whatley 
Indians in reference to their residences or to the land owners with 
whom they were associated. After World War II, most of the tribe moved 
into the nearby town of Jena, Louisiana. They formally incorporated in 
1974 as the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, but usually refer to 
themselves as the Jena Choctaw. They have been identified as an Indian 
entity throughout their history until the present by the Federal 
Government, the State government, local authorities, scholars, the 
Mississippi Band of Choctaw, and other sources.
    The Jena Choctaw maintained a separate and distinct Indian group 
through a high degree of in-group marriage. Before 1950, 85 percent of 
the marriages of members were to other members, and 50 percent of the 
existing marriages in 1959 were between members of the tribe. The 
Choctaw language was used almost exclusively by members of this Indian 
community until the late 1930's. The use of the Choctaw language 
continued in many households until the late 1950's, sustained in part 
by the high degree of in-group marriage. Close family ties, living in 
close proximity to one another, and shared community activities such as 
maintenance of the Indian cemetery have demonstrated that the group 
maintained a distinct, cohesive community in the last three decades to 
the present.
    A traditional leader or chief conducted the affairs of the Indian 
community, led the group in burial practices, and conducted marriages 
until the late 1930's. Although the traditional leader's role was less 
active after World War II, he continued to organize community support 
to meet the needs of the membership. In addition, informal leaders 
exhibited political influence within the Choctaw community during the 
1950's and 1960's which continued after the death of the last 
traditional leader in 1968. Since 1974, the Jena Choctaw have elected 
their leaders and members have continued to participate in the 
governance of the tribe.
    The Jena Choctaw have a constitution and by-laws which define the 
membership and reflect how they govern themselves.
    The revised membership roll submitted during the comment period has 
an additional 32 members who were not listed on the membership roll 
dated October 1993, which was used for the proposed finding. The 
additional individuals are the children and grandchildren of 
individuals on the previous roll. All members on the October 1993 roll 
had \1/4\ or more Choctaw blood quantum. All of the new members have 
\1/8\ or more Choctaw blood quantum, and thus they meet the membership 
requirements prescribed in the Jena constitution.
    Every member descends from at least one ancestor who was identified 
as a Choctaw Indian on the Federal censuses and/or who was identified 
as a full-blood Mississippi Choctaw on the 1903 preliminary roll of the 
Dawes Commission. Thus, they continue to meet the requirements of the 
regulations for descent from the historic tribe.
    Although the new list increases the membership by approximately 20 
percent (from 157 to 189), it does not change the basic community of 
the Jena Choctaw. Of the 32 new members, 9 are children born since 
October 1993, and 13 more are children under the age of 21. The other 
10 are grandchildren of members listed in 1993. Sixty-five percent of 
the new members live in Jena and the surrounding area.
    Under 25 CFR 83.12(b), the revised roll dated April 3, 1995, and 
approved by the Jena tribal council, will be considered as the base 
roll of the Jena Choctaw for Federal funding and other administrative 
    Members of the Jena Choctaw were not found to be members of any 
other acknowledged Indian tribe. Neither the tribe nor its members have 
been the subject of Congressional legislation which has expressly 
forbidden a relationship with the Federal Government.
    The Jena Choctaw has met all seven criteria under 25 CFR 83.7 for 
Federal acknowledgment as an Indian tribe. [[Page 28481]] 
    This determination is final and will become effective 90 days from 
the date of publication, unless a request for reconsideration is filed 
pursuant to Sec. 83.11. The petitioner or any interested party may file 
a request for reconsideration of this determination with the Interior 
Board of Appeals (Sec. 83.11(a)(1)). The petitioner's or interested 
party's request must be received no later than 90 days after 
publication of the Assistant Secretary's determination in the Federal 
Register (Sec. 83.11(a)(2)).

    Dated: May 18, 1995.
Ada E. Deer,
Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs.
[FR Doc. 95-13171 Filed 5-30-95; 8:45 am]