Indian Issues: BLM's Program for Issuing Individual Indian	 
Allotments on Public Lands Is No Longer Viable (20-OCT-06,	 
GAO-07-23R).							 
                                                                 
Beginning in the late nineteenth century the federal government  
began an effort to assimilate Indians by transferring them from  
communal tribal existence to individual land ownership. The Act  
of February 8, 1887, commonly referred to as the General	 
Allotment Act, initiated the federal government's Indian	 
allotment policy. The act authorized the President to allot	 
parcels of land to individual Indians--generally in sizes of 40, 
80, or 160 acres--on Indian reservations and on public lands. The
act was implemented by the Department of the Interior's 	 
(Interior) Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Land	 
Management (BLM). Under this authority, BIA issued millions of	 
acres of individual allotments on Indian reservations, and BLM	 
issued thousands of acres of individual Indian allotments on	 
public lands. However, in 1934, the Indian Reorganization Act	 
largely reversed the federal government's Indian allotment policy
and replaced it with a policy that encouraged tribal		 
self-governance. Section 5 of the Indian Reorganization Act also 
provided the Secretary of the Interior new authority to acquire  
land, on and off reservations, on behalf of federally recognized 
tribes or their members. While the Indian Reorganization Act	 
ended BIA's authority to issue allotments on Indian reservations,
it did not address BLM's authority to issue allotments on public 
lands. Almost 120 years after the 1887 General Allotment Act, BLM
still retains that authority and questions have been raised about
the continued need for it. Individual Indian allotments present a
unique management challenge for BIA--the multiple ownership of a 
single property (fractionation). In an earlier report on Indian  
land ownership profiles at select reservations, we found that the
1887 allotment act provided, among other things, that the heirs  
of an Indian who had been allocated land would inherit the	 
descendant's ownership interests in the land. Because of this	 
provision, the ownership of some allotted land has continually	 
become fractionated as ownership interests have passed from	 
generation to generation. With fractionated land, development	 
(e.g., building a home site) can be difficult because it may	 
require agreement among multiple ownership interests of the	 
development plan. In some cases, fractionated lands have up to	 
several hundred ownership interests. In addition, fractionated	 
land creates increased management responsibilities for BIA	 
because BIA must work with growing ownership interests on the	 
same parcel of land, for example, in distributing mineral	 
royalties. With the passage of the Indian Land Consolidation Act 
of 1983, the federal government has been trying to reduce the	 
problem of fractionation by consolidating individual Indian land 
ownership interests into tribal ownership. A 2000 amendment to	 
the 1983 act established a fund to assist tribes in buying back  
fractional interests in reservation lands. The fiscal year 2006  
House Appropriations Committee Report for Interior's		 
appropriation bill directed GAO to study BIA's procedures and	 
practices in implementing its land in trust regulations. We	 
issued our report in July 2006. In response to the direction in  
the House report and subsequent discussions with Congressional	 
offices, we also agreed to assess the extent to which BLM's	 
program for issuing allotments to individual Indians on public	 
lands is still viable. This correspondence transmits the results 
of our review of BLM's Indian allotment authority. In addition,  
we are providing some supplementary information to our July 2006 
report on the amount of land held in trust for newly recognized  
and restored tribes and an identification of landless tribes.	 
-------------------------Indexing Terms------------------------- 
REPORTNUM:   GAO-07-23R 					        
    ACCNO:   A62464						        
  TITLE:     Indian Issues: BLM's Program for Issuing Individual      
Indian Allotments on Public Lands Is No Longer Viable		 
     DATE:   10/20/2006 
  SUBJECT:   Allotment						 
	     Eligibility criteria				 
	     Indian affairs legislation 			 
	     Indian lands					 
	     Land management					 
	     Policy evaluation					 
	     Public lands					 
	     Program evaluation 				 

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GAO-07-23R

     

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October 20, 2006

The Honorable Conrad Burns

Chairman

The Honorable Byron L. Dorgan

Ranking Minority Member

Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies

Committee on Appropriations

United States Senate

The Honorable Charles H. Taylor

Chairman

The Honorable Norman D. Dicks

Ranking Minority Member

Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

Committee on Appropriations

House of Representatives

Subject: Indian Issues: BLM's Program for Issuing Individual Indian
Allotments on Public Lands Is No Longer Viable

Beginning in the late nineteenth century the federal government began an
effort to assimilate Indians by transferring them from communal tribal
existence to individual land ownership. The Act of February 8, 1887,
commonly referred to as the General Allotment Act, initiated the federal
government's Indian allotment policy.1 The act authorized the President to
allot parcels of land to individual Indians-generally in sizes of 40, 80,
or 160 acres-on Indian reservations and on public lands. The act was
implemented by the Department of the Interior's (Interior) Bureau of
Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM).2 Under this
authority, BIA issued millions of acres of individual allotments on Indian
reservations, and BLM issued thousands of acres of individual Indian
allotments on public lands. However, in 1934, the Indian Reorganization
Act largely reversed the federal government's Indian allotment policy and
replaced it with a policy that encouraged tribal self-governance.3 Section
5 of the Indian Reorganization Act also provided the Secretary of the
Interior new authority to acquire land, on and off reservations, on behalf
of federally recognized tribes or their members. While the Indian
Reorganization Act ended BIA's authority to issue allotments on Indian
reservations, it did not address BLM's authority to issue allotments on
public lands. Almost 120 years after the 1887 General Allotment Act, BLM
still retains that authority and questions have been raised about the
continued need for it.

1Act of February 8, 1887, ch. 119, 24 Stat. 388 (1887) (codified as
amended at 25 U.S.C. S: 331, et seq.).

2At the time of the act, BLM did not exist. Its predecessor, the General
Land Office, was the entity that implemented the act from 1887 to 1946. In
1946, the General Land Office was merged with another federal agency, the
U.S. Grazing Service, to form BLM within Interior.

3Act of June 18, 1934, ch. 576, 48 Stat. 984 (1934) (codified as amended
at 25 U.S.C. S:S: 461-479).

A number of public land laws and other federal actions over the past 75
years have affected BLM's Indian allotment program, generally limiting the
land available for allotment. The Act of June 28, 1934, commonly referred
to as the Taylor Grazing Act, authorized the Secretary of the Interior to
establish up to 80 million acres of grazing districts in "vacant,
unappropriated, and unreserved lands" and authorized the classification of
those lands.4 In classifying land, BLM must examine the land to determine
whether it is more valuable or suitable for disposal under a public land
law (e.g., as an Indian allotment) than for retention in federal ownership
for management purposes. In 1976, the Federal Land Policy and Management
Act reoriented BLM from a land disposal to a land management
organization.5 Under the act, "public lands [are to] be retained in
Federal ownership, unless as a result of the land use planning procedure
... it is determined that disposal of a particular parcel will serve the
national interest."

Under BLM's current regulations and policies for the Indian allotment
program, those applying for Indian allotments on public lands must
identify the land on which they wish to settle and file an application,
including certification of Indian eligibility, with the local BLM office.6
Applications must include an economic plan for developing the land. BLM
reviews the applications and classifies the land requested if necessary.
If approved, applicants have a 2-year period to demonstrate their ability
to sustain themselves and their families on the land-a process referred to
as "proving-up." BLM must periodically monitor applicants during this
period to ensure they are complying with their obligations. If applicants
successfully complete this 2-year period, BLM issues them a patent, or
title, to the land, which is held in trust status. Trust status means that
the federal government holds title to the land in trust for tribes or
individual Indians and the land is no longer subject to state and local
property taxes and zoning ordinances.

BIA and the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) also play a role in this
process. BIA must certify that those applying for Indian allotments are
eligible, meaning that they are "... a recognized member of an Indian
tribe or [are] entitled to be so recognized." In addition, BIA is
responsible for managing all trust lands, including Indian allotments. BIA
has a range of responsibilities over these lands, including probate and
real estate services. The IBLA, the Interior administrative review body
for BLM, is responsible for adjudicating all administrative appeals on
Indian allotment decisions, among other duties.

4Act of June 28, 1934, ch. 865, 48 Stat. 1269 (1934).

5Pub. L. No. 94-579, 90 Stat. 2743 (1976) (codified as amended at 43
U.S.C. S:S: 1701-1785).

643 C.F.R. pt. 2530. In addition, BLM has issued a variety of guidance
documents on the Indian allotment program.

Individual Indian allotments present a unique management challenge for
BIA-the multiple ownership of a single property (fractionation). In an
earlier report on Indian land ownership profiles at select reservations,
we found that the 1887 allotment act provided, among other things, that
the heirs of an Indian who had been allocated land would inherit the
decedent's ownership interests in the land.7 Because of this provision,
the ownership of some allotted land has continually become fractionated as
ownership interests have passed from generation to generation. With
fractionated land, development (e.g., building a home site) can be
difficult because it may require agreement among multiple ownership
interests of the development plan. In some cases, fractionated lands have
up to several hundred ownership interests. In addition, fractionated land
creates increased management responsibilities for BIA because BIA must
work with growing ownership interests on the same parcel of land, for
example, in distributing mineral royalties. With the passage of the Indian
Land Consolidation Act of 1983, the federal government has been trying to
reduce the problem of fractionation by consolidating individual Indian
land ownership interests into tribal ownership.8 A 2000 amendment to the
1983 act established a fund to assist tribes in buying back fractional
interests in reservation lands.9

The fiscal year 2006 House Appropriations Committee Report for Interior's
appropriation bill directed GAO to study BIA's procedures and practices in
implementing its land in trust regulations.10 We issued our report in July
2006.11 In response to the direction in the House report and subsequent
discussions with your offices, we also agreed to assess the extent to
which BLM's program for issuing allotments to individual Indians on public
lands is still viable. This correspondence transmits the results of our
review of BLM's Indian allotment authority. In addition, we are providing
some supplementary information to our July 2006 report on the amount of
land held in trust for newly recognized and restored tribes and an
identification of landless tribes (encl. II).

In conducting our work, we reviewed applicable laws, regulations, and
policies. We met with BLM's Lands and Realty staff in Washington, D.C., to
discuss the program. We requested information on the number of approved,
denied, and pending Indian allotment applications from BLM's LR2000
database-a system with information on the programs and lands BLM
manages-over a 20-year period between January 1, 1986, and January 1,
2006, to ascertain the amount of Indian allotment activity. However, BLM
was only able to provide data through January 2002 because of security
issues related to an ongoing federal court case, and it identified 94
possible

7GAO, Indian Programs: Profile of Land Ownership at 12 Reservations,
GAO/RCED-92-96BR (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 10, 1992).

8Pub. L. No. 97-459, 96 Stat. 2517 (1983) (codified as amended at 25
U.S.C. S:S: 2201-2221).

9Indian Land Consolidation Act Amendments of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-462,
S:S: 103, 216, 114 Stat. 1991, 2002 (2000) (codified at 25 U.S.C. S:S:
2201, 2215).

10H.R. Rep. No. 109-80, at 68 (2005).

11GAO, Indian Issues: BIA's Efforts to Impose Time Frames and Collect
Better Data Should Improve the Processing of Land in Trust Applications,
GAO-06-781 (Washington, D.C.: July 28, 2006).

allotment applications during this period. We attempted to confirm the
LR2000 data along with any other allotment activity, including the period
not covered by LR2000, with BLM state offices by e-mail and telephone. We
conducted one site visit at the Eastern States Office in Springfield,
Virginia, to interview staff and review Indian allotment case files. Of
the 94 possible applications identified by LR2000, we were able to
positively confirm that 11 were applications for initial Indian allotments
within the scope of our review, 2 were applications for initial Indian
allotments outside the scope of our review, and 22 were modifications to
existing allotments and therefore outside the scope of our review. We
could not readily confirm the remaining 59 applications because of
difficulty in locating and retrieving files. We also reviewed applicable
decisions by the IBLA and identified IBLA decisions that involved BLM
decisions on 11 initial Indian allotment applications that fell within our
time frame. The 22 confirmed applications within our time frame constitute
the scope of our review of allotment applications. Enclosure I provides a
more detailed description of our scope and methodology. We conducted our
work between July and September 2006 in accordance with generally accepted
government auditing standards.

Results in Brief

BLM's program for issuing Indian allotments on public lands is no longer
viable because generally no currently available lands qualify for
allotment; and therefore, the program does not offer a reasonable
opportunity of providing benefits for those applying for allotments.
Specifically, the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, the land management plans
developed under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and
other federal actions have withdrawn nearly all public land in the United
States from availability for allotment. In addition, the public land that
has been classified for disposal is not suitable for Indian allotments
because the land cannot support families as required by the allotment
program, according to BLM officials and documents. The public land
available for allotment that could support a family has generally been
awarded over the past 120 years. Despite the lack of land available for
release, BLM estimates that it receives an average of one to five
allotment applications per year. For the 22 allotment applications we
reviewed, BLM denied 18, approved 2, and 2 were withdrawn by the
applicants. In addition, BLM officials could not recall any approvals for
allotments during the past 20 years other than the two approvals in
Arizona in 1990, more than 15 years ago. Interior continues to bear the
administrative burden of processing these Indian allotment applications
even though applicants have little chance of approval. Continuing to issue
Indian allotments also runs counter to the federal government's actions
since 1983 to consolidate Indian land holdings.

Because the allotment of public lands to Indian applicants is no longer an
efficient and effective program that provides those applying for benefits
with a reasonable chance of approval and because it runs counter to Indian
land consolidation, we are recommending that the Secretary of the Interior
develop a proposal for the Congress to repeal section 4 of the 1887
General Allotment Act, which provides BLM the authority to issue Indian
allotments on public lands. In commenting on the draft of this
correspondence, Interior agreed with our findings and recommendation. See
enclosure III for Interior's written comments.

Background

The General Allotment Act gave the President the authority to issue
allotments to Indians on Indian reservations and on public lands.
Specifically, the act states:

... the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, authorized,
whenever in his opinion any reservation or any part thereof of such
Indians is advantageous for agricultural and grazing purposes, to cause
said reservation, or any part thereof, to be surveyed, or resurveyed if
necessary, and to allot the lands in said reservation in severalty to any
Indian located thereon ...12

That where any Indian not residing upon a reservation, or for whose tribe
no reservation has been provided by treaty, act of Congress, or executive
order, shall make settlement upon any surveyed or unsurveyed lands of the
United States not otherwise appropriated, he or she shall be entitled ...
to have the same allotted to him or her, and to his or her children, in
quantities and manner as provided in this act for Indians residing upon
reservations ...13

Lands not allotted on reservations were often opened by subsequent acts of
Congress for purchase by non-Indians as homesteads.

Authority to issue Indian allotments was vested in the Secretary of the
Interior, who delegated authority to BIA for lands on Indian reservations
and to BLM for public lands.14 Congress ended BIA's authority to issue
allotments on Indian reservations as part of the 1934 Indian
Reorganization Act, but did not address BLM's authority. Current
regulations specify the following maximum amount of land that can be
applied for by a single applicant and permissible uses:

           o  Up to 40 acres of irrigable land,15 
           o  Up to 80 acres of nonirrigable agricultural land,16 and
           o  Up to 160 acres of nonirrigable grazing land.17

To apply for an Indian allotment, applicants must first identify the land
for which they are applying and obtain a certificate of eligibility from
BIA showing that they are

12General Allotment Act S: 1 (emphasis added). This authority applied to
BIA.

13General Allotment Act S: 4 (emphasis added). This authority applied to
BLM.

14Section 31 of the Act of June 25, 1910, 36 Stat. 863 (1910) (codified at
25 U.S.C. S: 337) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to issue Indian
allotments within national forests if the Secretary of Agriculture, acting
through the U.S. Forest Service, determines that the lands are more
valuable for agricultural or grazing purposes than for timber. As with
BLM's allotment authority, the Indian Reorganization Act did not address
this authority to issue Indian allotments. We did not review the Forest
Service process since it involves a separate statute and another federal
agency. The applicable regulations are at 43 C.F.R. pt. 2533.

15Irrigable land is defined in the regulations as land susceptible of
successful irrigation at a reasonable cost from any known source of water
supply.

16Nonirrigable agricultural land is defined in the regulations as land
upon which agricultural crops can be profitably raised without irrigation.

17Grazing land is defined in the regulations as land that cannot be
profitably devoted to any agricultural use other than grazing.

either "... a recognized member of an Indian tribe or [are] entitled to be
so recognized" and submit that certificate, together with their allotment
application, to a local BLM office serving the area. The application must
include, among other things, plans for developing the land and any
previous allotments received. If necessary, applicants must petition BLM
to have the land classified for disposal under the act. After BLM receives
the application, it generally begins with the classification process.
Classification can take several months and BLM must consider the (1)
physical suitability of the land for the proposed classification, which
requires BLM to inspect the proposed allotment; (2) present and potential
future land use; (3) consistency with state and local programs, plans, and
zoning; and (4) consistency with federal programs and policies.18 BLM also
must confirm that the intended use of the land complies with environmental
laws.

If the land is classified for disposal under the act and the land and the
applicant meet the other requirements in the regulations, a certificate of
allotment is issued. At this point, applicants must live on the land for 2
years to prove they can sustain themselves and their families, if any,
solely from either farming or grazing. Applicants may not use any other
sources of income to supplement their earnings from the land. BLM must
periodically visit during this time to ensure that applicants are, in
fact, residing on the land and following the economic development plan. If
at the end of this 2-year period applicants have proven that they can
sustain themselves and their families on the land, then BLM issues a trust
patent, or title, to the applicant and the allotment process is concluded.
The trust patent is held in trust by the federal government.19

The more widely known and commonly used process for tribes and individual
Indians to acquire new trust property is through BIA's land in trust
process in 25 C.F.R. part 151. Section 5 of the Indian Reorganization Act
provided the Secretary of the Interior the discretionary authority to take
land in trust on behalf of federally recognized tribes or their members.
Specifically, section 5 states:

The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to
acquire through purchase, relinquishment, gift, exchange, or assignment,
any interest in lands, water rights or surface rights to lands, within or
without existing reservations ... for the purpose of providing land for
the Indians. ... Title to any lands or rights acquired pursuant to this
Act shall be taken in the name of the United States in trust for the
Indian tribe or individual Indian for which the land is acquired, and such
lands or rights shall be exempt from State and local taxation.20

1843 C.F.R. S: 2410.1.

19The General Allotment Act required newly allotted land to be held in
trust status for 25 years. After this period, BLM would issue a fee patent
to the property owner and the government would relinquish all management
responsibilities over the land. Executive orders and orders of the
Secretary of the Interior have extended the 25-year period. See 25 C.F.R.
ch. I, app.

20Indian Reorganization Act S: 5 (emphasis added).

In our July 2006 report, we reviewed BIA's land in trust process.21
Specifically, we reviewed all of the land in trust applications decided by
BIA in fiscal year 2005. Of the 87 applications with BIA decisions in
fiscal year 2005, 78 applications were from tribes covering about 4,800
acres and 9 applications were from individual Indians covering about 1,000
acres.

BLM's Program for Issuing Indian Allotments Is No Longer Viable

BLM's program for issuing Indian allotments on public lands is no longer
viable because over time federal laws and actions have withdrawn many of
these lands from disposal as allotments or BLM has awarded available lands
as allotments. Consequently, the program does not offer a reasonable
chance of providing benefits for those seeking allotments. In particular,
the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 and two executive orders issued in the
mid-1930s implementing that law withdrew most public lands from disposal
until such lands could be classified. The executive orders, in 1934 and
1935, carried out the requirements of the Taylor Grazing Act by requiring
the classification of all public lands in 24 states, mostly in the West.22
As a result, public lands were no longer presumed to be available for
Indian allotments. Furthermore, the land use plans developed under the
Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 place further limitations
on the land available for allotment.

The public land classified for disposal and currently available is not
suitable for Indian allotments because the land could not support an
individual Indian or family as required by the allotment program,
according to BLM officials and documents. Suitable public land that could
support an individual Indian or family largely has been awarded over the
past 120 years. According to a 1964 BLM guide to the Indian allotment
process, most of the lands having "significant agricultural values" had
already been disposed of. In a June 1967 bulletin, BLM stated that "almost
all of the good land is owned privately" and "there is very little chance
of finding land that is suitable for an Indian allotment." In a November
2004 paper recommending a moratorium on the filing of new Indian allotment
applications, BLM's Lands and Realty staff identified no acres available
for disposal that meet the requirements of the General Allotment Act.23
Finally, according to an undated Indian allotment fact sheet provided by
the Nevada State Office, "most of the public domain lands BLM administers
are the lands no one else wanted, and they are not capable of supporting
sustained agricultural production." BLM denied 18 of the 22 applications
we were able to confirm and approved 2 in Arizona in 1990. The remaining
two applications were withdrawn by the applicant. It denied most Indian
allotment applications because the land did not qualify for allotment.

21GAO-06-781.

22Executive Order 6910, issued November 26, 1934, and Executive Order
6964, issued February 5, 1935. The former temporarily withdrew public
lands in 12 western states-Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana,
Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and
Wyoming-"from settlement, location, sale or entry" until such lands were
classified for their most useful purpose and for "conservation and
development of natural resources." The latter temporarily withdrew public
lands in 12 additional states-Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas,
Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma,
Washington, and Wisconsin-for classification.

23We were not able to independently confirm this fact. According to BLM
Lands and Realty staff, these data were drawn from an ad hoc query to BLM
state offices in the mid-1990s, for which there is no documentation, but
staff added that data might not be entirely accurate.

Although generally no land qualifies for Indian allotments, Interior
continues to bear an administrative burden in processing allotment
applications. BLM must process allotment applications-an average of one to
five allotments annually, according to BLM estimates-even though BLM
almost always denies them. In addition to processing applications, BLM
officials said they also field periodic inquiries from the public about
the Indian allotment program and how to apply for an allotment. BLM
officials added that they could not recall any approvals for Indian
allotments over the past 20 years, other than the two approvals in Arizona
in 1990, more than 15 year ago.

BIA, and, potentially the IBLA, also must devote resources to the
allotment program. BIA is responsible for certifying that an allotment
applicant is "... a recognized member of an Indian tribe or is entitled to
be so recognized." In addition, BIA must manage Indian allotments once
they are held in trust status, which includes responsibilities such as
probate and real estate services. In addition, a number of Indian
allotment decisions have been administratively appealed to the IBLA, which
has generally affirmed BLM decisions to deny Indian allotment
applications. In nearly all of the 31 appeal cases we identified, the IBLA
affirmed BLM's decision to deny the application.24 The applications were
generally denied because the land did not qualify for an allotment.

In addition to posing an administrative burden, the allotment program runs
counter to the federal government's actions to consolidate Indian land
holdings. Over time, the ownership of individual Indian allotments has
become fractionated through inheritance laws. This fractionation has
resulted in difficulties in managing these lands. Retaining BLM's
authority to issue Indian allotments on public lands potentially leads to
the same problems allotments have caused on reservations by increasing
fractional ownership and the administrative burden for the federal
government in managing these lands.25

BLM officials have recognized the problems with the Indian allotment
program and have offered suggestions for eliminating it. For example, in
response to a departmental request in the late 1990s, BLM included the
allotment authority in a list of laws it recommended that Congress should
modify or repeal. However, Interior did not officially submit this list to
Congress, according to BLM Lands and Realty staff. More recently, in
November 2004, BLM Lands and Realty staff issued a paper to the Associate
Deputy Secretary of the Interior on the allotment program that offered
recommendations for eliminating it, including a Secretarial Order placing
a moratorium on the filing of allotment applications and removing the
existing regulations. BLM Lands and Realty staff informed us that in
reviewing these recommendations, Interior's Office of the Solicitor
determined that none of the recommendations offered a viable way to
eliminate the program because none of them repealed the law itself. As
long as the authority remains in law, the Office of the Solicitor
concluded, BLM would be required to process new applications. BLM has not
pursued any further options since 2004 because of greater priorities in
other areas and the potential of attracting unwanted attention to the
program and possibly more applications by highlighting its existence,
according to BLM Lands and Realty staff.

24Only 3 of the 31 IBLA decisions we identified were made in the last 20
years-(1) a January 21, 1993, decision affirming the denial of one
application in California (Ramona L. Randa,  125 IBLA 153 (1993)), (2) a
July 29, 1996, decision affirming the denial of two applications in New
Mexico (Lehman Perkaquanart, 136 IBLA 182 (1996)), and (3) a February 3,
2003, decision affirming the denial of eight applications in Montana (Jane
Delorme, 158 IBLA 260 (2003)). These 3 decisions involved 11 of the 22
Indian allotment applications we reviewed from the past 20 years. The
remaining 28 decisions were prior to January 1, 1986, and they involved
about 300 additional allotment applications. A January 21, 1983, decision
involved 180 applications (George L. Clay Lee, 70 IBLA 196 (1983)).

25Other evidence of this shifting toward land consolidation can be seen at
BIA, which is considering changes to its land in trust regulations that
would essentially halt the processing of individual land in trust
applications.

Conclusions

BLM's program to issue individual Indian allotments on public lands has
become obsolete with the passage of time and subsequent congressional
actions. Thousands of individual Indian allotments were granted on public
lands from 1887 to 1934, under the federal government's Indian allotment
policy. However, in 1934, the Indian Reorganization Act ended the Indian
allotment policy, while at the same time it provided the Secretary of the
Interior with new authority to acquire land in trust, on and off
reservations, on behalf of federally recognized tribes or their members.
Under the Taylor Grazing Act, which was enacted 10 days after the Indian
Reorganization Act, and implementing executive orders, large portions of
public lands were no longer available for Indian allotments. More
recently, under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976,
additional public lands have been removed from being available for Indian
allotments. In addition, the allotment program runs counter to the federal
government's continuing effort to address the fractionation problem of
individual allotments by trying to consolidate Indian land holdings into
tribal ownership.

Federal programs should be effective and efficient, and should provide a
reasonable chance for applicants to receive benefits for which they apply.
By these measures, BLM's Indian allotment program is no longer viable.
Those applying to BLM for Indian allotments on public lands have no
reasonable chance of being approved because available land for allotments
is almost nonexistent. Nevertheless, BLM continues to receive applications
for Indian allotments, and it and other Interior agencies must commit
resources to processing them. As a result, the allotment program draws
resources away from Interior's higher priorities. Currently, the more
effective and appropriate mechanism for Indians to receive additional
trust acreage is through BIA's land in trust process under 25 C.F.R. part
151.

Recommendation for Executive Action

We are recommending that the Secretary of the Interior develop a proposal
for the Congress to repeal section 4 of the 1887 General Allotment Act,
which provides BLM the authority to issue Indian allotments on public
lands.

Agency Comments

Interior's Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management
commented on a draft of this correspondence in a letter dated September
26, 2006 (see encl. III). Interior agreed with our findings and
recommendation.

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

We are sending copies of this report to interested congressional
committees, the Secretary of the Interior, the Acting Assistant Secretary
for Land and Minerals Management, the BLM Director, BLM state offices, and
other interested parties. We will also make copies available to others
upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on
the GAO Web site at http: //www.gao.gov .

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please contact
me at (202) 512-3841 or nazzaror@gao.gov . Contact points for our Offices
of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last
page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions to this report
are listed in enclosure IV.

Robin M. Nazzaro

Director, Natural Resources and Environment

Enclosure I

                             Scope and Methodology

We reviewed applicable laws, regulations, and policies concerning the
authority of the Department of the Interior's (Interior) Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) to issue Indian allotments on public lands. We met with
BLM Lands and Realty staff in Washington, D.C., to discuss their
perspectives on the Indian allotment program, particularly a November 2004
paper issued by this office that contains recommendations for eliminating
the program.26

To collect the case-specific data on approved, denied, and pending Indian
allotment applications from January 1, 1986, through January 1, 2006, we
requested and Interior provided a list from its LR2000 database-a system
with information on the programs and lands managed by BLM-that contained
94 cases identified as Indian allotments. The list also contained an
additional 2,352 cases categorized as Indian allotments for the state of
New Mexico, but BLM officials said these cases were part of a federal
court settlement and therefore not allotments. Interior queried the
database for all Indian allotments approved, denied, and pending during
the period from January 1, 1985, through January 1, 2002, but were unable
to query the time frame from 2002 onward because of security issues
related to an ongoing federal court case. Although we initially asked for
and BLM provided data starting on January 1, 1985, we decided to use a
20-year time frame between January 1, 1986, and January 1, 2006, during
the course of our work. In addition, BLM Lands and Realty staff told us
that some of the LR2000 cases coded as "Indian allotment" might not fit
our criteria because the category is used for other types of transactions,
such as Indian fee patents. Therefore, to confirm the status of these
cases and identify any others, including those between 2002 and 2006, we
forwarded the LR2000 list to each of the 12 BLM state offices-Alaska,
Arizona, California, Colorado, Eastern States, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New
Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming-to have them identify Indian allotment
cases. We then followed up with staff in each state office either via
e-mail or telephone to confirm information provided. In one instance, we
visited the Eastern States Office in Springfield, Virginia, and
interviewed staff and reviewed cases identified in LR2000 under
jurisdiction of this office.

We found many instances in which the cases listed in LR2000 were not the
original Indian allotments that we were trying to identify, but rather
subsequent transactions on an original allotment. In the case of Eastern
States, LR2000 listed 16 allotment cases but we identified only 2 that fit
our criteria during our visit, and those fell outside of our established
time frame. The remaining 14 cases were applications to change the status
of Indian allotments issued a number of years ago, for example from trust
to fee status. In other cases, BLM state offices were unable to determine
the status of cases because the cases were old and no longer located on
site, and the BLM staff had no access to LR2000 to make determinations on
the cases. To obtain cases from off-site storage facilities would have
taken several weeks. Of the 94 possible applications identified by LR2000,
we were able to positively confirm that 11 were applications for initial
Indian allotments within the scope of our review, 2 were applications for
Indian allotments outside the scope of our review, and 22 were
modifications to existing allotments and therefore outside the scope of
our review. We could not readily confirm the remaining 59 applications
because of difficulty in locating and retrieving files.

26U.S. Department of the Interior, BLM's Lands and Realty Group,
Background Information and Rational for Suspending the Filing of Indian
Allotments and Removal of Applicable Regulation (Washington, D.C.: Nov.
17, 2004).

We also reviewed 31 Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) decisions
concerning Indian allotment applications that we were able to identify, 28
of which involved a BLM decision prior to January 1, 1986. The three
decisions within our review period involved 11 applications; Jane Delorme,
158 IBLA 260 (2003), affirmed BLM's November 30, 2001, decision to deny 8
applications in Montana, Lehman Perkaquanard, 136 IBLA 182 (1996),
affirmed BLM's February 2, 1993, decision to deny 2 applications in New
Mexico, and Ramona L. Randa,  125 IBLA 153 (1993), affirmed BLM's April
16, 1992, decision to deny 1 application in California. Based on the
deficiencies in the LR2000 data and difficulties in obtaining case files,
we decided to report only on the 22 cases (11 from the LR2000 query and 11
related to IBLA decisions) that we were able to confirm as Indian
allotments within our time frame.

Finally, we reviewed Public Land Statistics data from 1962 through 2004 to
identify any Indian allotments issued. However, since it was unclear how
Indian allotments were categorized in these reports, we were not able to
use this information.

We conducted our work from July through September 2006 according to
generally acceptable government auditing standards.

Enclosure II

                  Data on Newly Recognized and Restored Tribes

In July 2006, we reported on the Bureau of Indian Affair's (BIA) process
for placing land in trust for tribes and individual Indians.27 BIA's
general authority to take land in trust for tribes and individual Indians
dates back to the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934.28 Two groups of
tribes of particular interest that have availed themselves of BIA's land
in trust process are newly recognized and restored tribes. In November
2001, we reported on BIA's process for recognizing new tribes.29 At that
time, we identified 47 newly recognized tribes and 37 restored tribes, for
a total of 84 newly recognized and restored tribes. While our November
2001 report contained detailed information on the 47 newly recognized
tribes in a table on pages 25 to 26, it did not contain similar
information on the 37 restored tribes. Table 1 provides detailed
information on the 37 restored tribes. Twenty-three of the tribes were
restored by federal court decisions and the remaining 14 were restored by
congressional action.

Table 1: Thirty-seven Tribes Have Been Restored through Congressional Acts
and Federal Court Decisions

                            Date           Date      How the tribe was        
Tribe                    terminated     restored  restored                 
Menominee Indian Tribe   Apr. 30, 1961  Dec. 22,  Congressional            
of Wisconsin                            1973      restoration,             
                                                                              
                                                     Pub. L. No. 93-197, 87   
                                                     Stat. 770 (1973)         
Robinson Rancheria of    Sept. 3, 1965  June 29,  Federal court            
Pomo Indians of                         1977      restoration, Duncan v.   
California                                        Andrus, 517 F. Supp. 1   
                                                     (N.D. Cal.1977)a         
Confederated Tribes of   Aug. 13, 1956  Nov. 18,  Congressional            
the Siletz Reservation,                 1977      restoration,             
Oregon                                                                     
                                                     Pub. L. No. 95-195, 91   
                                                     Stat. 1415 (1977)        
Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma Aug. 3, 1959   May 15,   Congressional            
                                           1978      restoration,             
                                                                              
                                                     Pub. L. No. 95-281, 92   
                                                     Stat. 246 (1978)         
Peoria Tribe of Indians  Aug. 2, 1959   May 15,   Congressional            
of Oklahoma                             1978      restoration,             
                                                                              
                                                     Pub. L. No. 95-281, 92   
                                                     Stat. 246 (1978)         
Paiute Indian Tribe of   Mar. 1, 1957   Apr. 3,   Congressional            
Utah                                    1980      restoration,             
                                                                              
                                                     Pub. L. No. 96-227, 94   
                                                     Stat. 317 (1980)         
Wiyot Tribe, California  Apr. 11, 1961  Sept. 21, Federal court            
                                           1981      restoration, Table Bluff 
                                                     Band of Indians v.       
                                                     Andrus, 532 F. Supp. 255 
                                                     (N.D. Cal. 1981)         
Confederated Tribes of   Aug. 13, 1956  Nov. 22,  Congressional            
the Grand Ronde                         1983      restoration,             
Community of Oregon                                                        
                                                     Pub. L. No. 98-165, 97   
                                                     Stat. 1064 (1983)        
Bear River Band of the   July 16, 1966  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Rohnerville Rancheria,                  1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick v. United       
                                                     States, No. 79-1710 SW   
                                                     (N.D. Cal. 1983) b       
Big Valley Band of Pomo  Nov. 11, 1965  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Indians of the Big                      1983      restoration, Tillie      
Valley Rancheria,                                 Hardwick b               
California                                        
Blue Lake Rancheria,     Sept. 22, 1966 Dec. 22,  Federal court            
California                              1983      restoration, Tillie      
                                                     Hardwick b               
Buena Vista Rancheria of Apr. 11, 1961  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Me-Wuk Indians of                       1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick b               
Chicken Ranch Rancheria  Aug. 1, 1961   Dec. 22,  Federal court            
of Me-Wuk Indians of                    1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick b               
Cloverdale Rancheria of  Dec. 30, 1965  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Pomo Indians of                         1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick b               
Elk Valley Rancheria,    July 16, 1966  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
California                              1983      restoration, Tillie      
                                                     Hardwick b               
Greenville Rancheria of  Dec. 8, 1966   Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Maidu Indians of                        1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick b               
Mooretown Rancheria of   Aug. 1, 1961   Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Maidu Indians of                        1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick b               
Northfork Rancheria of   Feb. 18, 1966  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Mono Indians of                         1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick b               
Picayune Rancheria of    Feb. 18, 1966  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Chukchansi Indians of                   1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick b               
Pinoleville Rancheria of Feb. 18, 1966  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Pomo Indians of                         1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick b               
Potter Valley Tribe,     Aug. 1, 1961   Dec. 22,  Federal court            
California                              1983      restoration, Tillie      
                                                     Hardwick b               
Quartz Valley Indian     Jan. 20, 1967  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
Community of the Quartz                 1983      restoration, Tillie      
Valley Reservation of                             Hardwick b               
California                                        
Redding Rancheria,       June 20, 1962  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
California                              1983      restoration, Tillie      
                                                     Hardwick b               
Redwood Valley Rancheria Aug. 1, 1961   Dec. 22,  Federal court            
of Pomo Indians of                      1983      restoration, Tillie      
California                                        Hardwick b               
Smith River Rancheria,   July 29, 1967  Dec. 22,  Federal court            
California                              1983      restoration, Tillie      
                                                     Hardwick b               
Confederated Tribes of   Aug. 13, 1956  Oct. 17,  Congressional            
the Coos, Lower Umpqua                  1984      restoration,             
and Siuslaw Indians of                                                     
Oregon                                            Pub. L. No. 98-481, 98   
                                                     Stat. 2250 (1984)        
Klamath Tribes, Oregon   Aug. 13, 1961  Aug. 27,  Congressional            
                                           1986      restoration,             
                                                                              
                                                     Pub. L. No. 99-398, 100  
                                                     Stat. 849 (1986)         
Alabama-Coushatta Tribes July 1, 1955   Aug. 18,  Congressional            
of Texas                                1987      restoration,             
                                                                              
                                                     Pub. L. No. 100-89, 101  
                                                     Stat. 666 (1987)         
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska  Oct. 27, 1966  Oct. 31,  Congressional            
                                           1990      restoration,             
                                                                              
                                                     Pub. L. No. 101-484, 104 
                                                     Stat. 1167 (1990)        
Guidiville Rancheria of  Sept. 3, 1965  Sept. 6,  Federal court            
California                              1991      restoration, Scotts      
                                                     Valley Band of the Sugar 
                                                     Bowl Rancheria v. United 
                                                     States, No.              
                                                     C-86-3660-WWS (N.D. Cal. 
                                                     1991)c                   
Lytton Rancheria of      Aug. 1, 1961   Sept. 6,  Federal court            
California                              1991      restoration, Scotts      
                                                     Valley c                 
Scotts Valley Band of    Sept. 3, 1965  Sept. 6,  Federal court            
Pomo Indians of                         1991      restoration, Scotts      
California                                        Valley c                 
Mechoopda Indian Tribe   June 2, 1967   Apr. 17,  Federal court            
of Chico Rancheria,                     1992      restoration, Scotts      
California                                        Valley d                 
Catawba Indian Nation    July 2, 1960   Oct. 27,  Congressional            
                                           1993      restoration,             
                                                                              
                                                     Pub. L. No. 103-116, 107 
                                                     Stat. 1118 (1993)        
United Auburn Indian     Aug. 18, 1967  Oct. 31,  Congressional            
Community of the Auburn                 1994      restoration,             
Rancheria of California                                                    
                                                     Pub. L. No. 103-434, 108 
                                                     Stat. 4533 (1994)        
Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Apr. 11, 1961  Nov. 2,   Congressional            
Indians of California                   1994      restoration,             
                                                                              
                                                     Pub. L. No. 103-454, 108 
                                                     Stat. 4793 (1994)        
Federated Indians of     Feb. 18, 1966  Dec. 27,  Congressional            
Graton Rancheria,                       2000      restoration,             
California                                                                 
                                                     Pub. L. No. 106-568, 114 
                                                     Stat. 2939 (2000)        

27GAO, Indian Issues: BIA's Efforts to Impose Time Frames and Collect
Better Data Should Improve the Processing of Land in Trust Applications,
GAO-06-781 (Washington, D.C.: July 28, 2006).

28Act of June 18, 1934, ch. 576, S: 5, 48 Stat. 984, 985 (1934).

29GAO, Indian Issues: Improvements Needed in Tribal Recognition Process,
GAO-02-49 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 2, 2001).

Source: GAO analysis of relevant laws and federal court cases restoring
tribes.

Note: BIA did not complete the termination process for some tribes. For
example, 25 C.F.R. pt. 242 (1959) (rescinded effective May 13, 1981, see
46 Fed. Reg. 26476), the implementing regulations for the California
Rancheria Termination Act (Pub. L. No. 85-671, 72 Stat. 619 (1958), as
amended by Pub. L. No. 88-419, 78 Stat. 390 (1964)), provided a number of
steps to be completed for the termination of a California Indian entity.
Pursuant to 25 C.F.R. S: 242.12, the termination process was to culminate
with the publication of a proclamation in the Federal Register declaring
that the special relationship between the federal government and tribe was
terminated. Since no such proclamation was ever issued for tribes such as
the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians of the Hopland Rancheria, California and
the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, California, among others, those tribes
were never officially terminated and are not included in this table. In a
similar case, BIA never published a notice in the Federal Register
terminating the Wyandotte Nation, Oklahoma, as required by their
termination act (see Pub. L. No. 84-887, 70 Stat. 893, S: 13(a) (1956)).
There is, however, some ambiguity over how to classify these tribes and
for various reasons BIA identifies them as restored tribes. In addition,
there are other tribes that were terminated that have not been restored as
of the date of this report. Those terminated and non-restored tribes are
not included in the table.

a42 Fed. Reg. 33099 (June 29, 1977).

b49 Fed. Reg. 24084 (June 11, 1984).

c57 Fed. Reg. 5214 (Feb. 12, 1992).

d57 Fed. Reg. 19133 (May 4, 1992).

While no additional tribes have been restored since our November 2001
report, there have been changes to the list of newly recognized tribes.
The recognition of the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma was
overturned in court, and the tribe has been removed from BIA's official
list of federally recognized tribes.30 In addition, BIA added the Cowlitz
Indian Tribe in the state of Washington as a newly recognized tribe as of
January 4, 2002.31 By deleting one tribe and adding another, the total
number of newly recognized tribes since 1960 remains at 47.

To supplement our July 2006 land in trust report, table 2 provides
information on the more than 600,000 acres of individual and tribal trust
land that the 84 newly recognized and restored tribes or their members
have acquired since being recognized or restored.

Table 2: Individual and Tribal Trust Acreage for the 84 Newly Recognized
and Restored Tribes

Tribe                    Newly       Date           Tribal Individual      Total 
                         recognized  recognized                 trust            
                         or restored or              trust      acres      trust 
                                     restored        acres                 acres 
Miccosukee Tribe of      Newly       Nov. 17,    79,831.44       0.00  79,831.44 
Indians of Florida       recognized  1961                             
Burns Paiute Tribe of    Newly       Nov. 16,       942.60  10,534.00  11,476.60 
the Burns Paiute Indian  recognized  1967                             
Colony of Oregon                                                      
Nooksack Indian Tribe of Newly       Aug. 13,       212.68       0.00     212.68 
Washington               recognized  1971                             
Sauk-Suiattle Indian     Newly       June 9,         23.21       0.00      23.21 
Tribe of Washington      recognized  1972                             
Upper Skagit Indian      Newly       June 9,         74.17       0.00      74.17 
Tribe of Washington      recognized  1972                             
Passamaquoddy Tribe of   Newly       June 29,   133,677.00       0.00 133,677.00 
Maine                    recognized  1972                             
Penobscot Tribe of Maine Newly       July 14,    65,608.38       0.00  65,608.38 
                         recognized  1972                             
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe   Newly       Sept. 7,     1,707.63       0.00   1,707.63 
of Chippewa Indians of   recognized  1972                             
Michigan                                                              
Tonto Apache Tribe of    Newly       Oct. 6,         85.00       0.00      85.00 
Arizona                  recognized  1972                             
Coushatta Tribe of       Newly       June 27,       684.00       0.00     684.00 
Louisiana                recognized  1973                             
Menominee Indian Tribe   Restored    Dec. 22,   235,077.64       0.00 235,077.64 
of Wisconsin                         1973                             
Stillaguamish Tribe of   Newly       Oct. 27,        24.30       0.00      24.30 
Washington               recognized  1976                             
Robinson Rancheria of    Restored    June 29,       143.28       9.94     153.22 
Pomo Indians of                      1977                             
California                                                            
Confederated Tribes of   Restored    Nov. 18,     4,107.90     142.78   4,250.68 
the Siletz Reservation,              1977                             
Oregon                                                                
Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma Restored    May 15,         26.63       0.00      26.63 
                                     1978                             
Peoria Tribe of Indians  Restored    May 15,        882.34       0.63     882.97 
of Oklahoma                          1978                             
Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma  Newly       May 15,        230.41       0.00     230.41 
                         recognized  1978                             
Pascua Yaqui Tribe of    Newly       Sept. 18,    1,395.24       0.00   1,395.24 
Arizona                  recognized  1978                             
Karuk Tribe of           Newly       Jan. 15,       596.07     246.16     842.23 
California               recognized  1979                             
Paiute Indian Tribe of   Restored    Apr. 3,     43,576.99       0.00  43,576.99 
Utah                                 1980                             
Grand Traverse Band of   Newly       May 27,        562.49       0.00     562.49 
Ottawa and Chippewa      recognized  1980                             
Indians, Michigan                                                     
Houlton Band of Maliseet Newly       Oct. 10,       850.00       0.00     850.00 
Indians of Maine         recognized  1980                             
Jamestown S'Klallam      Newly       Feb. 10,        72.50       0.00      72.50 
Tribe of Washington      recognized  1981                             
Jamul Indian Village of  Newly       July 7,          6.03       0.00       6.03 
California               recognized  1981                             
Wiyot Tribe, California  Restored    Sept. 21,       87.99       0.00      87.99 
                                     1981                             
Tunica-Biloxi Indian     Newly       Sept. 25,      725.61       0.00     725.61 
Tribe of Louisiana       recognized  1981                             
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Newly       Dec. 29,     1,497.75       0.00   1,497.75 
Indians of Oregon        recognizeda 1982                             
Death Valley Timbi-Sha   Newly       Jan. 3,      7,753.99       0.00   7,753.99 
Shoshone Band of         recognized  1983                             
California                                                            
Kickapoo Traditional     Newly       Jan. 8,      3,715.47   3,376.26   7,091.73 
Tribe of Texas           recognized  1983                             
Narragansett Indian      Newly       Apr. 11,     1,943.50       0.00   1,943.50 
Tribe of Rhode Island    recognized  1983                             
Mashantucket Pequot      Newly       Oct. 18,     1,545.20       0.00   1,545.20 
Tribe of Connecticut     recognized  1983                             
Confederated Tribes of   Restored    Nov. 22,    10,658.36      20.00  10,678.36 
the Grand Ronde                      1983                             
Community of Oregon                                                   
Bear River Band of the   Restored    Dec. 22,        60.00       2.16      62.16 
Rohnerville Rancheria,               1983                             
California                                                            
Big Valley Band of Pomo  Restored    Dec. 22,        84.73      14.79      99.52 
Indians of the Big                   1983                             
Valley Rancheria,                                                     
California                                                            
Blue Lake Rancheria,     Restored    Dec. 22,        10.00       9.40      19.40 
California                           1983                             
Buena Vista Rancheria of Restored    Dec. 22,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
Me-Wuk Indians of                    1983                             
California                                                            
Chicken Ranch Rancheria  Restored    Dec. 22,        50.58       0.00      50.58 
of Me-Wuk Indians of                 1983                             
California                                                            
Cloverdale Rancheria of  Restored    Dec. 22,         0.00      12.56      12.56 
Pomo Indians of                      1983                             
California                                                            
Elk Valley Rancheria,    Restored    Dec. 22,       193.72      21.72     215.44 
California                           1983                             
Greenville Rancheria of  Restored    Dec. 22,         0.00       1.80       1.80 
Maidu Indians of                     1983                             
California                                                            
Mooretown Rancheria of   Restored    Dec. 22,       425.62      19.69     445.31 
Maidu Indians of                     1983                             
California                                                            
Northfork Rancheria of   Restored    Dec. 22,        61.52      80.00     141.52 
Mono Indians of                      1983                             
California                                                            
Picayune Rancheria of    Restored    Dec. 22,         0.00      28.76      28.76 
Chukchansi Indians of                1983                             
California                                                            
Pinoleville Rancheria of Restored    Dec. 22,         2.84      23.53      26.37 
Pomo Indians of                      1983                             
California                                                            
Potter Valley Tribe,     Restored    Dec. 22,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
California                           1983                             
Quartz Valley Indian     Restored    Dec. 22,       105.62      24.02     129.64 
Community of the Quartz              1983                             
Valley Reservation of                                                 
California                                                            
Redding Rancheria,       Restored    Dec. 22,         3.33      47.00      50.33 
California                           1983                             
Redwood Valley Rancheria Restored    Dec. 22,       159.61      16.91     176.52 
of Pomo Indians of                   1983                             
California                                                            
Smith River Rancheria,   Restored    Dec. 22,        41.62      47.87      89.49 
California                           1983                             
Poarch Band of Creek     Newly       Aug. 10,       386.92       0.00     386.92 
Indians of Alabama       recognized  1984                             
Confederated Tribes of   Restored    Oct. 17,       130.50       0.00     130.50 
the Coos, Lower Umpqua               1984                             
and Siuslaw Indians of                                                
Oregon                                                                
Klamath Tribes, Oregon   Restored    Aug. 27,       556.24     720.18   1,276.42 
                                     1986                             
Wampanoag Tribe of Gay   Newly       Apr. 11,       466.70       0.00     466.70 
Head (Aquinnah) of       recognized  1987                             
Massachusetts                                                         
Alabama-Coushatta Tribes Restored    Aug. 18,     5,197.46       0.00   5,197.46 
of Texas                             1987                             
Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo of Newly       Aug. 18,     3,227.34       0.00   3,227.34 
Texas                    recognizeda 1987                             
Lac Vieux Desert Band of Newly       Sept. 8,       303.08       0.00     303.08 
Lake Superior Chippewa   recognized  1988                             
Indians, Michigan                                                     
Coquille Tribe of Oregon Newly       June 28,     6,481.95       0.00   6,481.95 
                         recognizeda 1989                             
San Juan Southern Paiute Newly       Mar. 28,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
Tribe of Arizona         recognized  1990                             
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska  Restored    Oct. 31,       158.84      83.00     241.84 
                                     1990                             
Guidiville Rancheria of  Restored    Sept. 6,        44.63       2.25      46.88 
California                           1991                             
Lytton Rancheria of      Restored    Sept. 6,         9.53       0.00       9.53 
California                           1991                             
Scotts Valley Band of    Restored    Sept. 6,         0.00       0.79       0.79 
Pomo Indians of                      1991                             
California                                                            
Aroostook Band of Micmac Newly       Nov. 26,       314.38       0.00     314.38 
Indians of Maine         recognized  1991                             
Mechoopda Indian Tribe   Restored    Apr. 17,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
of Chico Rancheria,                  1992                             
California                                                            
Catawba Indian Nation    Restored    Oct. 27,     1,010.00       0.00   1,010.00 
                                     1993                             
Ione Band of Miwok       Newly       Mar. 22,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
Indians of California    recognized  1994                             
Mohegan Indian Tribe of  Newly       May 14,        406.00       0.00     406.00 
Connecticut              recognized  1994                             
Little River Band of     Newly       Sept. 21,      534.95       0.00     534.95 
Ottawa Indians, Michigan recognized  1994                             
Little Traverse Bay      Newly       Sept. 21,      424.16       0.00     424.16 
Bands of Odawa Indians,  recognized  1994                             
Michigan                                                              
Pokagon Band of          Newly       Sept. 21,        0.00       0.00       0.00 
Potawatomi Indians,      recognized  1994                             
Michigan and Indiana                                                  
United Auburn Indian     Restored    Oct. 31,        49.21       0.00      49.21 
Community of the Auburn              1994                             
Rancheria of California                                               
Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Restored    Nov. 2,      1,869.16       0.00   1,869.16 
Indians of California                1994                             
Central Council of the   Newly       Nov. 2,         31.59       0.00      31.59 
Tlingit & Haida Indian   recognized  1994                             
Tribes                                                                
Jena Band of Choctaw     Newly       Aug. 29,        62.63       0.00      62.63 
Indians, Louisiana       recognized  1995                             
Huron Potawatomi, Inc.,  Newly       Mar. 17,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
Michigan                 recognized  1996                             
Samish Indian Tribe,     Newly       Apr. 26,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
Washington               recognized  1996                             
Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Newly       Aug. 23,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
Band of Potawatomi       recognized  1999                             
Indians of Michigan                                                   
Snoqualmie Tribe,        Newly       Oct. 6,          0.00       0.00       0.00 
Washington               recognized  1999                             
Federated Indians of     Restored    Dec. 27,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
Graton Rancheria,                    2000                             
California                                                            
Shawnee Tribe, Oklahoma  Newly       Dec. 27,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
                         recognized  2000                             
Lower Lake Rancheria,    Newly       Dec. 29,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
California               recognized  2000                             
King Salmon Tribe        Newly       Dec. 29,         0.00       0.00       0.00 
                         recognized  2000                             
Sun'aq Tribe of Kodiak   Newly       Dec. 29,         0.00       0.23       0.23 
                         recognized  2000                             
Cowlitz Indian Tribe,    Newly       Jan. 4,          0.00       0.00       0.00 
Washington               recognized  2002                             
Total                                           621,190.26  15,486.43 636,676.69 

30See Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma v. Norton, 389 F.3d 1074 (10th Cir.
2004), cert. denied 126 S. Ct. 333 (2005). Also, see the most recent list
of federally recognized tribes at 70 Fed. Reg. 71194 (Nov. 25, 2005).

3167 Fed. Reg. 607 (Jan. 4, 2002).

Source: GAO analysis of BIA's fiscal year 2005 annual acreage reports.

Note: BIA's land in trust database provides agencywide data on the
processing of land in trust applications. Our July 2006 report identified
problems with this database. However, BIA realty staff noted that,
according to the database, three landless tribes-the Little River Band of
Ottawa Indians, Huron Potawatomi, Inc., Michigan, and the Pokagon Band of
Potawatomi Indians, Michigan and Indiana-had land in trust applications
pending and two additional landless tribes-the Stillaguamish Tribe of
Washington and the Samish Indian Tribe, Washington-had land in trust
applications approved as of August 17, 2006.

aSome ambiguity exists over whether to classify this tribe as newly
recognized or restored and for various reasons BIA classifies it as
restored.

Also, as noted in our November 2001 tribal recognition report and our July
2006 land in trust report,32 BIA's tribal recognition and land in trust
processes have come under greater scrutiny with the growth of Indian
gaming. Table 3 shows the number of tribes recognized or restored prior to
and after enactment of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act on October 17,
1988. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act provides the statutory basis for
the operation and regulation of certain gaming activities on Indian lands.
It generally prohibits gaming activities on Indian lands acquired by the
Secretary of the Interior after October 17, 1988, the date the act was
signed into law. However, the act does provide several exceptions that
allow gaming on lands acquired in trust after its enactment.33

32GAO-02-49 and GAO-06-781.

Table 3: Number of Tribes Recognized or Restored before and after
Enactment of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act

                                              Newly recognized Restored Total 
Number of tribes recognized or restored                  28       28    56 
from January 1, 1960 to enactment of the                             
Indian Gaming Regulatory Act on October                              
17, 1988 (almost 29 years)                                           
Number of tribes recognized or restored                  19        9    28 
since the enactment of the Indian Gaming                             
Regulatory Act to July 30, 2006 (almost 18                           
years)                                                               
Total                                                    47       37    84 

Source: GAO analysis of newly recognized and restored tribes.

Finally, another group of tribes cited in discussions regarding BIA's land
in trust process is the "landless" tribes. In this context, we will define
a landless tribe as a federally recognized tribe located in the
continental United States for which, according to BIA, the federal
government does not hold title to any land in trust on behalf of the
tribe.34 Table 4 provides a list of the landless tribes. According to
BIA's fiscal year 2005 annual acreage reports, the federal government
holds title to land in trust for individual tribal members of 7 of 21
landless tribes, but none for the tribe itself. The remaining 14 landless
tribes have no tribal trust land, and their individual members do not have
any individual trust land. All but 3 of the 21 tribes in table 4 are newly
recognized or restored tribes.

33GAO, Indian Gaming Regulatory Act: Land Acquired for Gaming After the
Act's Passage, GAO/RCED-00-11R (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 1, 1999).

34BIA generally does not hold land in trust for federally recognized
Alaska Native tribal entities in Alaska. Under the Alaska Native Claims
Settlement Act, Pub. L. No. 92-203, 85 Stat. 688 (1971), Alaska Native
tribal landholdings were vested with the Alaska Native corporations
established under the act, except for the Metlakatla Indian Community,
Annette Island Reserve. The term "landless" tribe in Alaska generally
refers to Alaska Native entities excluded from the Alaska Native Claims
Settlement Act. For example, H.R. 2559 and S. 1306 (109th Cong., 1st
Sess.) would amend the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to include the
Alaska communities of Haines, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Tenakee, and
Wrangell.

Table 4: Tribes with No Tribal Trust Acreage in the Continental United
States in Fiscal Year 2005

                                                                   Year newly 
                                               Newly recognized recognized or 
Tribe                                       or restored           restored 
No tribal trust land, but some individual                    
trust land                                                   
California Valley Miwok Tribe, California   a                            a 
Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, California  a                            a 
Winnemucca Indian Colony of Nevada          a                            a 
Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians of                                    
California                                  restored                  1983
Greenville Rancheria of Maidu Indians of                                   
California                                  restored                  1983
Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of                                
California                                  restored                  1983
Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians of                                      
California                                  restored                  1991
No tribal or individual trust land                           
Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of                                 
California                                  restored                  1983
Potter Valley Tribe, California             restored                  1983 
San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe of Arizona   newly recognized          1990 
Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria,                                 
California                                  restored                  1992
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians,                                        
Michigan and Indiana                        newly recognized          1994
Ione Band of Miwok Indians of California    newly recognized          1994 
Huron Potawatomi, Inc., Michigan            newly recognized          1996 
Samish Indian Tribe, Washington             newly recognized          1996 
Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Potawatomi newly recognized          1999 
Indians,                                                     
                                                                
Michigan and Indiana                                         
Snoqualamie Tribe, Washington               newly recognized          1999 
Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria,                                     
California                                  restored                  2000
Lower Lake Rancheria, California            newly recognized          2000 
Shawnee Tribe, Oklahoma                     newly recognized          2000 
Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Washington            newly recognized          2002 

Source: GAO analysis of BIA's fiscal year 2005 annual acreage reports.

aTribe was recognized prior to 1960 and was never terminated.

Enclosure III

                  Comments from the Department of the Interior

Enclosure IV

                     GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments

GAO Contact

Robin M. Nazzaro, (202) 512-3841, nazzaror@gao.gov

Staff Acknowledgments

In addition to the individual named above, Jeffery D. Malcolm, Assistant
Director; Mark Keenan; and Carol Herrnstadt Shulman made key contributions
to this report. Also contributing to the report were Jean Cook, Bart
Fischer, Carol Kolarik, Greg Marchand, and Greg Wilmoth.

(360747)

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