[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 226 (Friday, November 23, 2018)]
[Pages 59409-59410]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-25487]



Bureau of Indian Affairs

[190A2100DD/AAKC001030/A0A501010.999900 253G]

Proposed Finding Against Federal Acknowledgment of the Southern 
Sierra Miwuk Nation

AGENCY: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Department of the Interior (Department) gives notice that 
the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs (AS-IA) proposes to determine 
that the petitioner, Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation (SSM), is not an 
Indian Tribe within the meaning of Federal law. This notice is based on 
a determination that SSM does not meet one of the seven mandatory 
criteria for a government-to-government relationship with the United 
States. This proposed finding is based on only one criterion.

DATES: Comments on this proposed finding (PF) are due on or before May 
22, 2019. We must receive any request for a technical assistance 
meeting by January 22, 2019. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section 
of this notice for more information about these dates.

ADDRESSES: Please address comments on the PF or requests for a copy of 
the report to the Department of the Interior, Office of the Assistant 
Secretary-Indian Affairs, Attn: Office of Federal Acknowledgment, 1849 
C Street NW, MS-4071 MIB, Washington, DC 20240. Parties who make 
comments on the PF must also provide a copy of their comments to the 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: R. Lee Fleming, Director, Office of 
Federal Acknowledgment (OFA), (202) 513-7650.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to 25 CFR 83.10(h), the Department 
gives notice that the AS-IA proposes to determine that the Southern 
Sierra Miwuk Nation (SSM, Petitioner #82), c/o William H. Leonard, 4630 
Ben Hur Road, Mariposa, California 95338, is not an Indian Tribe within 
the meaning of the Federal law. This notice is based on a preliminary 
finding that the petitioner fails to satisfy one of the seven mandatory 
criteria for acknowledgement set forth in 25 CFR 83.7(a) through (g), 
and thus, does not meet the requirements for a government-to-government 
relationship with the United States.
    The Department received a letter of intent from the petitioner 
under the name ``American Indian Council of Mariposa County'' (AICMC) 
on April 24, 1982, and designated it Petitioner #82. The petitioner 
submitted a narrative and partial documentation on April 19, 1984. The 
Department replied with an ``obvious deficiency'' (OD) review letter on 
May 1, 1985. The petitioner responded with documentation on December 
12, 1986. At the request of the petitioner, the Department sent a 
second OD review letter on April 11, 1988. The Department received the 
petitioner's response on January 16, 1998. The Department then placed 
Petitioner #82 on the ``Ready, Waiting for Active Consideration'' list.
    Active consideration began on November 1, 2010, after which the 
Department asked for an updated membership list and any other materials 
within 60 days (70 FR 16514). The petitioner requested an ``extension 
of time to submit documentation,'' and the Department received the 
petitioner's submission on February 8, 2011, containing documentation, 
meeting minutes, membership list, articles, newspapers, and governing 
    During review of Petitioner #82's documented petition, OFA 
identified technical issues with the petitioner's membership files that 
needed to be resolved in order to complete the review for the PF. For 
this reason, the AS-IA extended the original due date for issuance of 
the PF, from November 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012. During further review, 
additional technical issues with the petitioner's membership vital 
records arose, and the AS-IA found good cause to suspend the issuance 
of the PF under 83.10(g).

[[Page 59410]]

    On July 31, 2015, the Department issued a final rule that revised 
the acknowledgment regulations and provided the petitioner the 
opportunity to choose to complete the evaluation either under the 
revised 2015 regulations or under the 1994 regulations (80 FR 37862-
37895). Petitioner #82 decided to continue with the review of its 
petition under the 1994 regulations. Active consideration resumed, with 
the AS-IA ultimately extending the deadline for this PF to November 16, 
    Criterion 83.7(b) requires that ``a predominant portion of the 
petitioning group comprises a distinct community and has existed as a 
community from historical times until the present.'' Section 83.1 
defines ``Community'' as: Any group of people which can demonstrate 
that consistent interactions and significant social relationships exist 
within its membership and that its members are differentiated from and 
identified as distinct from nonmembers.. Community must be understood 
in the context of the history, geography, culture and social 
organization of the group.'' The definition of ``the present'' is 
tailored to each petitioner's unique history. For this petitioner, 
``the present'' is defined as 1982 (the year when the petitioner 
submitted its Letter of Intent) to 2011 (the year when the petitioner 
submitted supplemental membership information).
    Evidence in the record shows involvement by some members of the 
petitioner in group activities, but not by a predominant portion of the 
membership. Events sponsored by the formal organization are attended by 
some of the petitioner's members, but also by non-Indians and non-Miwok 
Indians (some of whom may be closely related to the petitioner but who 
are enrolled in federally recognized Tribes). Participation in these 
activities appears to include some members from various families, but 
it is unclear to what extent this participation represents a cross-
section of the entire membership. The record contains very little 
information regarding how often members interact with each other 
outside of the functions organized by the group's leadership. The 
materials and interviews contained few descriptions of members from 
multiple families socializing at birthday parties, baby showers, 
graduations, anniversaries, or other events not sponsored by the 
group's governing body. There is also little to no discussion in the 
interviews or in any of the documents in the record of members 
informally looking after each other's children, taking in other members 
if they were rendered homeless, helping other members to secure 
employment, or aiding other members in times of sickness or financial 
    The evidence in the record is insufficient to demonstrate that 
Petitioner #82 meets the criterion 83.7(b), one of the seven mandatory 
criteria of the regulations for a determination that the petitioning 
group is an Indian Tribe. In accordance with the regulations, the 
failure to meet all seven criteria requires a determination that the 
petitioning group is not an Indian Tribe within the meaning of Federal 
law. See 25 CFR 83.6(d) and 25 CFR 83.10(m). Therefore, the Department 
proposes to decline to acknowledge Petitioner #82 as an Indian Tribe.
    According to the AS-IA OFA; Guidance and Direction Regarding 
Internal Procedures of May 23, 2008:

    If during the evaluation of a petition on active consideration 
it becomes apparent that the petitioner fails on one criterion, or 
more, under the reasonable likelihood of the validity of the facts 
standard, OFA may prepare a proposed finding or final determination 
not to acknowledge the group on the failed criterion or criteria 
alone, setting forth the evidence, reasoning, and analyses that form 
the basis for the proposed decision. (73 FR 30146-30148)

    The burden of providing sufficient evidence under the criteria in 
the regulations rests with the petitioner (25 CFR 83.5(c)). Because 
Petitioner #82 has not met criterion Sec.  83.(b) as a distinct 
community, it is not necessary, at this time, for the Department to 
make conclusions regarding the other six mandatory criteria.
    Additionally, due to the fact that the petitioner fails to meet the 
requirements of 83.7(b) (``the present''), the Department considers it 
unnecessary to conduct an analysis whether a predominant portion of the 
group comprised a distinct community and existed as a community from 
historical times. If additional evidence is provided after the PF is 
published, the Department may find it necessary to conduct an analysis 
of community from historical times to the present.
    The PF is based on the evidence currently in the record. Additional 
evidence may be submitted during the comment period that follows 
publication of this finding. If new evidence provided during the 
comment period results in a reversal of this conclusion, the AS-IA will 
issue an amended PF evaluating all seven criteria. (73 FR 30146-30148)
    Publication of this notice of the PF in the Federal Register 
initiates a 180-day comment period during which the petitioner and 
interested and informed parties may submit arguments and evidence to 
support or rebut the evidence relied upon in the PF. Comments on the PF 
should be addressed to both the petitioner and the Federal Government 
as required by 25 CFR 83.10(i) and as instructed in the ADDRESSES 
section of this notice by the date listed in the DATES section of this 
notice. The regulations, 25 CFR 83.10(k), provide the petitioner a 
minimum of 60 days to respond to any submissions on the PF received 
from interested and informed parties during the comment period. After 
expiration of the comment and response periods described above, the 
Department will consult with the petitioner and interested parties to 
determine an equitable timeframe for consideration of written arguments 
and evidence. The Department will notify the petitioner and interested 
parties of the date such consideration begins. After consideration of 
the written arguments and evidence rebutting or supporting the PF and 
the petitioner's response to the comments of interested parties, the 
AS-IA will either issue an amended proposed finding or make a final 
determination regarding the petitioner's status. The Department will 
publish a summary of this determination in the Federal Register.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal information from 
public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Dated: November 16, 2018.
Tara Sweeney,
Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2018-25487 Filed 11-21-18; 8:45 am]