Advisory Council on California Indian Policy
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The Advisory Council on California Indian Policy (ACCIP) was created by an act of the United States Congress and signed by President George H. W. Bush on October 14, 1992.〔“Advisory Council on California Indian Policy,” October 14, 1992, in Documents of United States Indian Policy, ed. Francis Paul Prucha (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), 336-337.〕 It provided for the creation of a special advisory council made up of eighteen members with the purpose of studying the unique problems that California Native Americans face in receiving federal acknowledgment. Additionally, they were given the task of studying the social and economic conditions of California natives, “characterized by, among other things, alcohol and substance abuse, critical health problems, family violence and child abuse, lack of educational and employment opportunities, and significant barriers to tribal economic development.”〔 Under the provisions for the act, the Advisory Council was to make recommendations regarding California Indian policy to the Congress and the Departments of the Interior and of Health and Human Services.
== Federal Acknowledgment Process ==
The ACCIP was especially important as an advocate for California’s terminated and unacknowledged tribes in receiving federal acknowledgment. In 1978, the Secretary of the Interior established the Federal Acknowledgment Process (FAP) to consider the extension of federal recognition to previously unrecognized Indian groups. Among other things, the Federal Acknowledgment regulations required that the group petitioning for a federally recognized tribal status live in a distinct community, be identified as an Indian entity on a continuous basis, and prove its political influence over its members through its history and into the present day. The UCLA American Indian Studies Center compiled a report for the ACCIP in 1996 which argued that the historical conditions of California Indians rendered the FAP regulations inapplicable to them.〔“A Second Century of Dishonor: Federal Inequities and California Tribes; a report prepared by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center for the Advisory Council on California Indian Policy,” March 27, 1996. Chapter XIV. http://www.aisc.ucla.edu/ca/Tribes.htm.〕 The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria made the same argument:
This standard may reflect the historical realities of many tribes outside of California such as the Navajo or Sioux Nations and is therefore arguably a reasonable benchmark to apply to currently unrecognized Indian tribes seeking recognition . . . Such a requirement is not, however, a realistic standard for California tribes because of California’s unique and tragic history toward its Native population. As California tribes were split apart, survival, not governance, became the primary goal of the Coast Miwok, the Southern Pomo, and others . . .〔Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. http://www.gratonrancheria.com/news092906_6.htm.〕
The UCLA American Indian Studies Center explains that before the United States acquired California in aftermath of the Mexican-American War, “the mission system significantly disrupted tribal living patterns and populations in California.” After California became a state, the United States concluded a total of eighteen treaties with the tribal groups of California in which a total of of land was to be set aside for them. The treaties were never ratified, however, and many Indians were resettled onto small reservations or rancherias, while others continued to live on their ancestral homelands without federal protection.〔UCLA American Indian Studies Center Report.〕
As the American Indian Studies Center Report points out, the United States had, in making treaties with the California Indian tribes, federally recognized them. They should not, therefore, have been subject to the Federal Acknowledgment Process. Furthermore, the missionary past of these Indians and the reservation system of the United States caused tribal groups to become broken up and isolated from one another. These cumulative experiences made federal acknowledgment under the FAP regulations especially difficult for California’s tribal groups. The ACCIP was created for precisely this reason. However, as Francis Paul Prucha has pointed out, “President Bush signed the bill . . . ‘on the understanding that the Council will serve only in an advisory capacity.’”〔Prucha, Documents. 336.〕 The powers of the ACCIP were extended in the Advisory Council on California Indian Policy Act of 1998 “to allow the Advisory Council to advise Congress on the implementation of the proposals and recommendations of the Advisory Council,” but its influence on California Indian Policy was still limited.〔“Advisory Council on California Indian Policy Extension Act of 1998,” October 27, 1998. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas. (H.R. 3069).〕 The council has, therefore, had mixed success in helping California Indian tribes achieve federal recognition.
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