Criteria for Recognition
The Mohegan Tribe is one of a few tribes that have been able to meet the most rigorous 1978 Bureau of Indian Affairs standards for recognition as a sovereign Indian tribe. While the fairness of these standards is being debated, the Mohegan Tribe is proud of the vast proof of its continuous existence.
BIA CRITERIA FOR FEDERAL RECOGNITION
Under the BIA's regulations, a tribe may petition the interior secretary for recognition. The petition must meet seven criteria. It must contain:
- A statement of facts establishing that the tribe has been identified from historical times until the present on a substantially continuous basis as "American Indian" or "aboriginal;"
- Evidence that a substantial portion of the group inhabits a specific area or lives in a community viewed as American Indian and distinct from other populations in the area, and that its members are descendants of an Indian tribe which historically inhabited a specific area;
- Evidence that the tribe has maintained tribal political authority or influence over its members as an autonomous entity throughout history until the present;
- A copy of the tribe's governing document, including membership criteria, or, if it does not have a formal governing document, a description of its membership criteria and governing procedures;
- An official membership list, any available former lists, and evidence that current members descend from a historic tribe or tribes that combined into a single autonomous political entity;
- Evidence that the tribe consists mainly of people who are not members of an acknowledged North American Indian tribe; and
- A statement that the tribe is not the subject of the congressional legislation that has terminated or forbidden the federal trust relationship (per 25 CFR Part 83. 7a-g)*.
* These were the standards in place in 1994, when the Mohegan Tribe was recognized. They have since changed.