Proposed Finding Against Federal Acknowledgment of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenakis of Vermont, 69776-69780 [05-22756]

Download as PDF 69776 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 221 / Thursday, November 17, 2005 / Notices notice on its procedures for terminating Origination Approval Agreements with FHA lenders and placement of FHA lenders on Credit Watch status (an evaluation period). In the May 17, 1999 notice, HUD advised that it would publish in the Federal Register a list of mortgagees, which have had their Origination Approval Agreements terminated. Termination of Origination Approval Agreement: Approval of a mortgagee by HUD/FHA to participate in FHA mortgage insurance programs includes an Origination Approval Agreement (Agreement) between HUD and the mortgagee. Under the Agreement, the mortgagee is authorized to originate single family mortgage loans and submit them to FHA for insurance endorsement. The Agreement may be terminated on the basis of poor performance of FHA-insured mortgage loans originated by the mortgagee. The termination of a mortgagee’s Agreement is separate and apart from any action taken by HUD’s Mortgagee Review Board under HUD’s regulations at 24 CFR part 25. Cause: HUD’s regulations permit HUD to terminate the Agreement with any mortgagee having a default and claim rate for loans endorsed within the preceding 24 months that exceeds 200 percent of the default and claim rate within the geographic area served by a HUD field office, and also exceeds the national default and claim rate. For the 24th review period, HUD is terminating the Agreement of mortgagees whose default and claim rate exceeds both the national rate and 200 percent of the field office rate. Effect: Termination of the Agreement precludes that branch(s) of the mortgagee from originating FHA-insured single family mortgages within the area of the HUD field office(s) listed in this notice. Mortgagees authorized to purchase, hold, or service FHA insured mortgages may continue to do so. Loans that closed or were approved before the termination became effective may be submitted for insurance endorsement. Approved loans are (1) those already underwritten and approved by a Direct Endorsement (DE) underwriter employed by an unconditionally approved DE lender and (2) cases covered by a firm commitment issued by HUD. Cases at earlier stages of processing cannot be submitted for insurance by the terminated branch; however, they may be transferred for completion of processing and underwriting to another mortgagee or branch authorized to originate FHA insured mortgages in that area. Mortgagees are obligated to continue to pay existing insurance premiums and meet all other obligations associated with insured mortgages. A terminated mortgagee may apply for a new Origination Approval Agreement if the mortgagee continues to be an approved mortgagee meeting the requirements of 24 CFR 202.5, 202.6, 202.7, 202.8 or 202.10 and 202.12, if there has been no Origination Approval Agreement for at least six months, and if the Secretary determines that the underlying causes for termination have been remedied. To enable the Secretary to ascertain whether the underlying causes for termination have been remedied, a mortgagee applying for a new Origination Approval Agreement must obtain an independent review of the terminated office’s operations as well as its mortgage production, specifically including the FHA-insured mortgages cited in its termination notice. This independent analysis shall identify the underlying cause for the mortgagee’s high default and claim rate. The review must be conducted and issued by an independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualified to perform audits under Government Auditing Standards as provided by the Government Accountability Office. The mortgagee must also submit a written corrective action plan to address each of the issues identified in the CPA’s report, along with evidence that the plan has been implemented. The application for a new Agreement should be in the form of a letter, accompanied by the CPA’s report and corrective action plan. The request should be sent to the Director, Office of Lender Activities and Program Compliance, 451 Seventh Street, SW., Room B133–P3214, Washington, DC 20410–8000 or by courier to 490 L’Enfant Plaza, East, SW., Suite 3214, Washington, DC 20024–8000. Action: The following mortgagees have had their Agreements terminated by HUD: Mortgagee name Mortgagee branch address HUD office jurisdictions Alethes LLC ...................... BSM Financial LP ............. BSM Financial LP ............. Century Mortgage Corporation. Everett Financial Inc ......... Infinity Mortgage Corporation. Lending Street LLC ........... Mortgage Pros LLC .......... 8601 RR 2222 BLD–1, Austin, TX 78730 ................... 16479 Dallas Parkway, Ste. 211, Addison, TX ........... 16479 Dallas Parkway, Ste. 211, Addison, TX 75001 1730 Mount Vernon Rd., Atlanta, GA 30338 .............. San Antonio, TX ............... Houston, TX. .................... San Antonio, TX ............... Atlanta, GA. ...................... 9/06/2005 10/6/2005 10/6/2005 9/6/2005 Denver. Denver. Denver. Atlanta. 17290 Preston Road, Ste. 300, Dallas, TX 75252 ..... 1117 Perimeter Center W., Suite 201, Atlanta, GA 30338. 1619 South Kentucky St., Amarillo, TX 79102 ........... 12335 North Rockwell Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73142. 795 E 340 S, American Fork, UT 84003 .................... Fort Worth, TX .................. Atlanta, GA. ...................... 10/6/2005 10/6/2005 Denver. Atlanta. Lubbock, TX. .................... Oklahoma City, OK ........... 10/6/2005 9/06/2005 Denver. Denver. Salt Lake City, UT ............ 10/06/2005 Denver. 1370 NW 114th St., Ste. 205, Clive, IA 50325 ........... Des Moines, IA ................. 9/06/2005 Denver. Pioneer Mortgage Services LLC. Plainscapital McAfee Mortgage Company. Dated: November 4, 2005. Frank L. Davis, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing. [FR Doc. E5–6333 Filed 11–16–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–27–P Jkt 208001 Notice. ACTION: Bureau of Indian Affairs SUMMARY: Pursuant to 25 CFR 83.10(h), notice is hereby given that the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs (AS–IA), proposes to determine that the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenakis of Vermont, P.O. Box 276, Swanton, Vermont, c/o Ms. April Merrill, is not an Proposed Finding Against Federal Acknowledgment of the St. Francis/ Sokoki Band of Abenakis of Vermont Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior. 17:38 Nov 16, 2005 Home ownership centers DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AGENCY: VerDate Aug<31>2005 Termination effective date PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\17NON1.SGM 17NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 221 / Thursday, November 17, 2005 / Notices Indian tribe within the meaning of Federal law. This notice is based on a determination that the petitioner does not satisfy criteria 83.7(a), 83.7(b), 83.7(c) and 83.7(e), and thus, does not meet the requirements for a governmentto-government relationship with the United States. DATES: Publication of the AS–IA’s notice of the proposed finding in the Federal Register initiates a 180-day comment period during which the petitioner, interested and informed parties, and the public may submit arguments and evidence to support or rebut the evidence relied upon in the proposed finding. Interested or informed parties must provide a copy of their comments to the petitioner. The regulations, 25 CFR 83.10(k), provide petitioners a minimum of 60 days to respond to any submissions on the proposed findings received from interested and informed parties during the comment period. ADDRESSES: Comments on the proposed finding or requests for a copy of the summary evaluation of the evidence should be addressed to the Office of the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs, 1951 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20240, Attention of the Office of Federal Acknowledgment, Mail Stop 34B–SIB. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: R. Lee Fleming, Director, Office of Federal Acknowledgment, (202) 513–7650. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice is published in the exercise of authority delegated by the Secretary of the Interior to the Associate Deputy Secretary by Secretarial Order 3259, of February 8, 2005, as amended on August 11, 2005. The acknowledgment process is based on the regulations at 25 CFR part 83, first issued in 1978 and revised in 1994. Under these regulations, the petitioner has the burden to present evidence that it meets the seven mandatory criteria in section 83.7. Pursuant to section 83.6(c), ‘‘the documented petition must include thorough explanations and supporting documentation in response to all of the criteria.’’ Furthermore, section 83.6(d) provides that a petition will be turned down for a lack of evidence. This notice of proposed finding is based on a determination that the St. Francis/ Sokoki Band of Abenkis of Vermont (SSA), Petitioner #68, does not satisfy all seven of the mandatory criteria for acknowledgment as an Indian tribe described in 25 CFR 83.7. The SSA submitted a letter of intent to petition for Federal acknowledgment on March 28, 1980. The AS–IA placed VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:38 Nov 16, 2005 Jkt 208001 the petitioner on active consideration on February 4, 2005. The SSA petitioner claims to have descended as a group mainly from the Missisquoi, a historical Western Abenaki Indian tribe. During the colonial period (approximately 1600– 1800), the Missiquoi occupied the Lake Champlain region near the present-day town of Swanton in Franklin County in northwestern Vermont. The available evidence in the historical record indicates that by 1800 the disruption caused by colonial wars and non-Indian settlement had forced almost all the Western Abenakis in northern New England (including Vermont) to relocate to the Saint Francis River area of Quebec, Canada, and become part of the St. Francis [Odanak] village of Canadian Indians. The petitioner, however, contends that its ancestors remained behind in northwestern Vermont after 1800, or moved to Canada until it was ‘‘safe’’ to return. The petitioner also maintains that its ancestors lived ‘‘underground,’’ hiding their Native American identity to avoid drawing the attention of their non-Indian neighbors, until the 1970’s. The details of this claimed process of living ‘‘underground,’’ however, are not explained by the petitioner. Some of the available documentation indicates that some of the group’s ancestors moved from various locations in Quebec, Canada, to the United States over the course of the 19th century, but the available evidence does not demonstrate that the petitioner or its claimed ancestors descended from the St. Francis Indians of Quebec, another Indian group in Canada, a Missisquoi Abenaki entity in Vermont, or any other Western Abenaki group or Indian entity from New England in existence before or after 1800. The available evidence indicates that no external observers from 1800 to 1975 described the petitioner or its claimed ancestors, or any group of Indians, as an Indian entity or a distinct Indian community in northwestern Vermont. The SSA petitioner does not meet criterion 83.7(a), which requires that it has been identified as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900. The available evidence demonstrates that no external observers identified the SSA petitioner or a group of its ancestors as an Indian entity from 1900 to 1975. External sources, including Federal authorities, State agencies, local governments, scholars, newspapers, periodicals, and Indian organizations, have identified SSA as some form of Indian entity only on a regular basis since 1976. Based on the available PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 69777 evidence, therefore, the SSA has not been identified on a substantially continuous basis since 1900, and does not meet criterion 83.7(a). The SSA petitioner is encouraged to submit documentation demonstrating that it has been identified as an Indian entity from 1900 to 1975. The current record suggests that it formed only recently in the middle 1970’s. The SSA does not meet criterion 83.7(b), which 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. The available evidence does not demonstrate a predominant portion of the SSA petitioning group’s members or its claimed ancestors have maintained consistent interaction and significant social relationships throughout history. Instead, the evidence demonstrates that the SSA petitioner is a collection of individuals of claimed (but not demonstrated) Indian ancestry with little or no social or historical connection with each other before the early 1970’s. The available evidence also establishes that the petitioner’s claimed ancestors and current members have not maintained at least a minimal distinction from other populations in the northwestern Vermont area and Lake Champlain region from historical times to the present. The available evidence does not demonstrate the SSA petitioner has a historical or social connection to any Western Abenaki entity in existence before 1800. The petitioner has not provided sufficient evidence to establish that a predominant portion of its claimed ancestors were interacting as a group before 1800. Indeed, it is not known from the available evidence what these claimed ancestors were doing before they moved to Vermont over the course of the 19th century. Thus, the petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(b) before 1800. A major problem with the evidence SSA submitted to demonstrate community for its claimed 19th century ancestors is the use of family-name variations to construct its ancestral family lines. The petitioner developed these names from family names found mainly on 19th century lists of St. Francis Indians at Odanak in Quebec, a historical group from which only a very small number of SSA’s current members actually claim descent. It appears that the SSA petitioner took the family names of current members and searched for variations of those names on lists of Saint Francis Indians. The SSA petitioner also searched for further E:\FR\FM\17NON1.SGM 17NON1 69778 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 221 / Thursday, November 17, 2005 / Notices variations of those family names in local church, town, land, school, and census records from the 19th century in the Franklin County area of Vermont, or from the ‘‘oral traditions’’ of its members. Once the petitioner perceived what it believed were similarities between the name of a present-day family and names on these historical records, it designated the family as part of an ‘‘Abenaki’’ community in the Franklin County area during the 19th century. The use of such a methodology to demonstrate consistent interactions and significant social relationships for SSA’s claimed ancestral families is unpersuasive. Using this process means that the families were identified as part of a claimed ancestral community based on the presumption that individuals with perceived similar names had shared social interactions, and not because the record actually demonstrated consistent interactions and social relationships among them. In addition, the SSA petitioner has not submitted the documentation it used to create the lists of claimed ancestral families. Instead, the petitioner described the contents of various town, church, and census records, and submitted abstracted lists of various family names of claimed ancestors. Copies of the actual primary documents from which the petitioner claimed to have extracted this information were not submitted. Further, the SSA petitioner did not provide most of the interviews, field notes, or genealogical materials referenced in its narratives. The petitioner is encouraged to submit copies of these documents for verification and analysis. Moreover, the petitioner has not provided sufficient evidence to explain how the claimed ancestral families which shared these family name or surname variations were consistently interacting in a way that would meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(b). For example, the petitioner has submitted little or no primary documentation from the 19th century to show these claimed ancestral families had significant marriage rates within the group, significant social relationships (formal or informal) connecting individual ancestors, important cooperative labor or other economic activities among claimed ancestors, or noteworthy sacred or secular behavior involving most of the group. It is also unclear if most of the claimed ancestral families from the 19th century actually have descendants in SSA’s current membership. The petitioner has also described or provided abstracted lists of family VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:38 Nov 16, 2005 Jkt 208001 names from four categories of evidence: local historical accounts, church and town records, Federal census data, and genealogical research on Abenaki family names, which it claims demonstrates the existence of its ancestral community in northwestern Vermont during the 19th century. It has not submitted copies of the documents referenced in the four groups of evidence and is encouraged to do so. Despite the lack of primary documentation, an evaluation of the limited available evidence does not indicate the four categories of evidence demonstrate that a predominant portion of the group’s claimed ancestors comprised a distinct community during the 19th century. Rather, the evaluation reveals that many of the petitioner’s claimed ancestral families began migrating to Vermont as individual families, beginning slowly in a disconnected fashion in the early 19th century, and continuing in a very gradual manner until well into the 20th century. Many came from unknown places in Quebec or separate locations throughout the Canadian province. Others came from Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, or Rhode Island. There is no available evidence showing these families interacted with each other as part of a community in Canada or elsewhere in the United States. There is also no evidence to demonstrate that the claimed ancestors migrated to Vermont as a group or acted as part of a community distinct in some way from the wider society after they arrived in Vermont. Thus, the petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(b) from 1800 to 1900. The information presented by the petitioner does not indicate the presence of a group or a community of the petitioner’s claimed ancestors from 1900 to the early 1970’s; rather, it indicates only that some of the current petitioner’s claimed ancestors lived in Franklin County, Vermont (particularly in the Town of Swanton) during the 20th century. The petitioner submitted very few copies of primary documents such as birth certificates, land records, or census enumerations, choosing instead to submit abstracts of this information. These abstracts, however, are inadequate for the purposes of the Department’s verification research and evaluation, which require copies of original documents. Furthermore, on several occasions when original documents were located by the Department or submitted by the State of Vermont, they did not contain the information the petitioner claimed. Information provided by the petitioner and located by the Department does not demonstrate that PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the ancestors claimed by the petitioner formed an ‘‘enclave’’ in the Town of Swanton, Vermont. Some claimed ancestors lived on the streets defined as making up an area of the town referred to as ‘‘Back Bay,’’ but others lived elsewhere in the town, and nonmember families also appear to have lived on these streets. The petitioner has not demonstrated the existence of a distinct community within Swanton, Vermont, consisting of the petitioner’s ancestors, or that those ancestors constituted a ‘‘community-within-a-community’’ among the French-Canadian or Roman Catholic families in the town. The petitioner also has not demonstrated that assorted references to ‘‘Abenaki’’ Indians refer to their ancestors, rather than to Abenaki from New England and Canada who traveled to the area to hunt, fish, or sell crafts. The group maintains that it did not keep membership lists before the 1970’s and the initial organization of the SSA. However, the petition lacks the type of evidence which, in the absence of formal lists, would help to define the makeup of a community, such as lists of attendees at meetings or other gatherings, letters detailing interaction among people in religious or social organizations, or journals describing the participation by people in rituals such as baptisms, marriages, and funerals. Without this information, it is not possible to determine who was supposed to have been a member of this ‘‘group’’ before the 1970’s. Membership standards since the 1970’s indicate a very fluid group, with few clearlydefined, consistent standards for membership. After the formal organization of the SSA in the early 1970’s, the group became a more organized body, with an emphasis on providing services such as after-school programs and vocational training through the Abenaki Self-Help Association, Incorporated (ASHAI), the group’s social-welfare organization. The group has also introduced some elements of Western Abenaki and panIndian culture into their gatherings, and has actively sought to establish relations with other non-federally recognized groups and recognized Indian tribes (both in Canada and the United States). These developments notwithstanding, the group has not displayed a level of community that would meet criterion 83.7(b) from 1975 to the present. The social and cultural elements are of recent introduction, and there is not enough information to indicate that these events are of more than symbolic value to the group as a whole, rather than to a few involved members. Although the SAA group has organized E:\FR\FM\17NON1.SGM 17NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 221 / Thursday, November 17, 2005 / Notices events that allow its members to meet and socialize, the petitioner has not demonstrated that a significant portion of its membership regularly associate with each other. The lack of documentation also makes it difficult to determine who among the membership has participated in the group’s various activities. The SSA petitioner has not demonstrated that a distinct community of the petitioner’s ancestors existed in Franklin County, Vermont, during the 19th century, and has not satisfied the requirements for criterion 83.7(b) at any time before 1975. Further, the group has not provided sufficient evidence of community to establish that it meets criterion 83.7(b) since 1975. Therefore, the petitioner has not met the requirements of criterion 83.7(b). The SSA petitioner does not meet criterion 83.7(c), which requires that it has maintained political influence or authority over its members as an autonomous entity from historical times until the present. The SSA petitioner claims it expressed political influence mainly through ‘‘family bands’’ before the formation of its council in the middle of the 1970’s. The available evidence from potential antecedent entities, however, indicates that the historical Western Abenaki actually had a well-developed political organization during the colonial period consisting of a ‘‘civil chief’’ and a ‘‘war chief’’. The ‘‘civil chief’’ presided over a ‘‘great council’’ composed of the ‘‘war chief’’ and the ‘‘elders’’ of the families. At the Saint Francis (Odanak) village in Quebec during the 1700’s, the ‘‘council’’ contained a ‘‘grand chief’’ and several other ‘‘chiefs’’. The names and political activities of most of these leaders are not well known. However, historical records reveal two well-documented political figures among the Western Abenaki before 1800—Chiefs Grey Lock and Joseph-Louis Gill. Grey Lock gained prominence in the first half of the 18th century, and Joseph-Louis Gill in the latter half. Yet, as described previously under criterion 83.7(b), the available evidence does not demonstrate the current petitioner or its claimed ancestral families descended as a group from any Western Abenaki tribe either in Quebec and/or Vermont. Thus, evidence of political activity for Western Abenaki chiefs like Grey Lock and Joseph-Louis Gill (or an unnamed Abenaki ‘‘chief’’ identified in a 1765 lease as the late husband of a widow named ‘‘Charlotte’’) during the colonial period does not demonstrate political influence among the SSA’s claimed ancestors. The petitioner has also not provided other evidence of what its VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:38 Nov 16, 2005 Jkt 208001 specific claimed ancestors might have been doing as a group to exercise political influence before 1800. The evidence presented for the 19th century is also inadequate. The petitioner has not submitted evidence to demonstrate what its claimed ancestors were doing between 1800 and 1875 to exercise political influence or authority across the group, particularly as many of the people identified as the ancestors of the petitioner were living in various towns across Quebec, Canada, during this time. For 1875 to 1900, the petitioner claimed that individuals such as Nazaire St. Francis, Sr., and Cordelia (Freemore) Brow served as informal leaders of a group of their claimed ancestors in the ‘‘Back Bay’’ area of the Town of Swanton, Vermont; however, the petitioner has not demonstrated that any of these individuals exercised authority over a group of the petitioner’s claimed ancestors. For the first 75 years of the 20th century, the petitioner has presented little evidence demonstrating informal leadership among any portion of the petitioner’s claimed ancestors. Information describing Nazaire St. Francis, Jr., Gene Cote, and Cordelia (Freemore) Brow as informal leaders must be supplemented with additional information if the petitioner wishes to substantiate its claims. The petitioner has not demonstrated informal or formal political authority among a group of its claimed ancestors at any time before 1975, and therefore, does not satisfy the requirements for criterion 83.7(c) for this time period. During the 1970’s, SSA appears to have become politically active after its formal organization. In addition to ASHAI, the group also formed a ‘‘tribal council.’’ Under the leadership of ‘‘chiefs’’ Homer St. Francis and Leonard Lampman, the group began their petition for Federal acknowledgment, instituted some social and cultural programs, and engaged the state of Vermont in a number of legal battles. However, the petition lacks evidence to demonstrate that participation in the group’s political processes was widespread across the membership of the group. The lack of sign-in sheets from meetings is problematic because it is difficult to demonstrate who exactly was involved in the group’s various meetings. Further, the lack of 17 years of minutes from ASHAI and the lack of 11 years of ‘‘tribal council’’ meeting minutes (as well as redacted ASHAI and council minutes spanning 8 and 9 years respectively) makes it difficult to understand what issues were important to the group and who was participating in the group’s political organization. The petitioner has not demonstrated PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 69779 that the organization formed after 1975 has a bilateral relationship between the membership and the elected (or appointed) governing body, in which the leadership acknowledges and responds to the concerns of the membership. Rather, the evidence indicates that political influence is limited to the actions of a small number of members pursuing an agenda with a minimal amount of input from the membership. Therefore, the petitioner has not satisfied the requirements of criterion 83.7(c) since 1975. The SSA petitioner meets criterion 83.7(d), which requires the petitioner to submit its governing document, including its membership criteria. The petitioner submitted a copy of its constitution, which defines its procedures by which it governs its affairs and its members, and which requires members to document descent from (1) an Abenaki family listed on the 1765 James Robertson lease; or (2) Abenaki ancestors as determined by the petitioner’s governing body. The SSA petitioner does not meet criterion 83.7(e), which requires that the petitioner’s members descend from a historical Indian tribe or from tribes that combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity. Eight current members (less than 1 percent of the group) have documented descent from a historical individual identified in the 19th century as a member of the St. Francis Abenaki tribe at Odanak, Quebec, Canada, but have not documented descent from historic individuals identified as members of the Missisquoi Abenaki. None of the petitioner’s remaining 1,163 members have documented descent from any of the presumed Abenaki persons listed on the 1765 James Robertson lease or from any persons identified on any other list, census, or primary or reliable secondary document as members of a historical Missisquoi Abenaki or historical Western Abenaki Indian tribe, or any other historical tribal entity. Therefore, the petitioner does not satisfy the requirements of criterion 83.7(e). Criterion 83.7(e) also requires that the petitioner submit an official membership list of all known current members, and that the petitioner’s governing body provide a separate certification of that membership list. The petitioner’s official membership list of August 9, 2005, which needs to be separately certified by the petitioner’s governing body, contained 2,506 entries, but only 1,171 individuals on that list were members who had submitted signed application forms and provided documentation required by the petitioner. E:\FR\FM\17NON1.SGM 17NON1 69780 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 221 / Thursday, November 17, 2005 / Notices The SSA petitioner meets criterion 83.7(f), which requires that a petitioning group be comprised principally of persons who are not members of any acknowledged North American Indian tribe. The petitioner has indicated that a number of current members are not listed on the group’s current membership list. Thus, this conclusion for criterion 83.7(f) does not apply to those individuals whose names were not submitted. The SSA petitioner meets criterion 83.7(g) because there is no evidence in the record that the petitioner or its members have been explicitly terminated or forbidden a Federal relationship by an act of Congress. Based on this preliminary factual determination, the Department proposes not to extend Federal Acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe under 25 CFR Part 83 to the petitioner known as the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenakis of Vermont. As provided by 25 CFR 83.1(h) of the regulations, a report summarizing the evidence, reasoning, and analyses that are the basis for the proposed decision will be provided to the petitioner and interested parties, and is available to other parties upon written request. Comments on the proposed finding and/or requests for a copy of the report of evidence should be addressed to the Office of the Assistant Secretary— Indian Affairs, 1951 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20240, Attention: Office of Federal Acknowledgment, Mail Stop 34B–SIB. Comments on the proposed finding should be submitted within 180 calendar days from the date of publication of this notice. The period for comment on a proposed finding may be extended for up to an additional 180 days at the AS–IA’s discretion upon a finding of good cause (83.10(i)). Comments by interested and informed parties must be provided to the petitioner as well as to the Federal government (83.10(h)). After the close of the 180-day comment period, and any extensions, the petitioner has 60 calendar days to respond to third-party comments (83.10(k)). This period may be extended at the AS–IA’s discretion, if warranted by the extent and nature of the comments. After the expiration of the comment and response periods described above, the Department will consult with the petitioner concerning establishment of a schedule for preparation of the final determination. The AS–IA will publish the final determination of the petitioner’s status in the Federal Register as provided in 25 CFR 83.10(1), VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:38 Nov 16, 2005 Jkt 208001 at a time that is consistent with that schedule. Dated: November 9, 2005. James E. Cason, Associate Deputy Secretary. [FR Doc. 05–22756 Filed 11–16–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–GI–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management Notice of Proposed Reinstatement of Terminated Oil and Gas Lease, UTU 18726 November 9, 2005. Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [UT–030–06–1610—PH–241A] Notice of Resource Advisory Committee Meeting Cancellation Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of the Interior. AGENCY: Notice of Cancellation of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Advisory Committee (GSENMAC) Meeting. ACTION: SUMMARY: The Grand StaircaseEscalante National Monument Advisory Committee (GSENMAC) meeting scheduled for November 15 and 16, 2005 is cancelled. Two days of meetings were scheduled for November 15 and 16, 2005, at the GSENM Visitor Center, Conference Room, 745 HWY 89 East, Kanab, Utah. DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larry Crutchfield, Public Affairs Officer, GSENM Headquarters Office, 190 East Center, Kanab, Utah 84741; phone (435) 644–4310, or email larry_crutchfield@blm.gov. In accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA), the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the GSENMAC was scheduled to meet on November 15 and 16, 2005, in Kanab, Utah, at the GSENM Visitor Center, 745 HWY 89 East, Kanab, Utah. The meeting has been cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dated: November 10, 2005. Dave Hunsaker, Monument Manager, Grand StaircaseEscalante National Monument. [FR Doc. 05–22787 Filed 11–16–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–DQ–P PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 SUMMARY: Under the provisions of Section 371(a) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the lessee, Del-Rio Resources, Inc., timely filed a petition for reinstatement of oil and gas lease UTU18726 in Uintah County, Utah. The lessee paid the required rental accruing from the date of termination, June 1, 2002. No leases were issued that affect these lands. The lessee agrees to new lease terms for rentals and royalties of $5 per acre and 162⁄3 percent, respectively. The lessee paid the $500 administration fee for the reinstatement of the lease and $155 cost for publishing this notice. The lessee met the requirements for reinstatement of the lease per Sec. 31(e) of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 [30 U.S.C. 188(e)]. We are proposing to reinstate the lease, effective the date of termination subject to: • The original terms and conditions of the lease; • The increased rental of $5 per acre; • The increased royalty of 162⁄3 percent; and • The $155 cost of publishing this notice. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David H. Murphy, Acting Chief, Branch of Fluid Minerals at (801) 539–4122. David H. Murphy, Acting Chief, Branch of Fluid Minerals. [FR Doc. 05–22776 Filed 11–16–05; 8:45am] BILLING CODE 4310–DK–M DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Notice of Proposed Information Collection for 1029–0063 Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. ACTION: Notice and request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) is announcing that the information collection request E:\FR\FM\17NON1.SGM 17NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 221 (Thursday, November 17, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 69776-69780]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-22756]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Indian Affairs


Proposed Finding Against Federal Acknowledgment of the St. 
Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenakis of Vermont

AGENCY: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: Pursuant to 25 CFR 83.10(h), notice is hereby given that the 
Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs (AS-IA), proposes to determine that 
the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenakis of Vermont, P.O. Box 276, 
Swanton, Vermont, c/o Ms. April Merrill, is not an

[[Page 69777]]

Indian tribe within the meaning of Federal law. This notice is based on 
a determination that the petitioner does not satisfy criteria 83.7(a), 
83.7(b), 83.7(c) and 83.7(e), and thus, does not meet the requirements 
for a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

DATES: Publication of the AS-IA's notice of the proposed finding in the 
Federal Register initiates a 180-day comment period during which the 
petitioner, interested and informed parties, and the public may submit 
arguments and evidence to support or rebut the evidence relied upon in 
the proposed finding. Interested or informed parties must provide a 
copy of their comments to the petitioner. The regulations, 25 CFR 
83.10(k), provide petitioners a minimum of 60 days to respond to any 
submissions on the proposed findings received from interested and 
informed parties during the comment period.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the proposed finding or requests for a copy of 
the summary evaluation of the evidence should be addressed to the 
Office of the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs, 1951 Constitution 
Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20240, Attention of the Office of Federal 
Acknowledgment, Mail Stop 34B-SIB.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice is published in the exercise of 
authority delegated by the Secretary of the Interior to the Associate 
Deputy Secretary by Secretarial Order 3259, of February 8, 2005, as 
amended on August 11, 2005.
    The acknowledgment process is based on the regulations at 25 CFR 
part 83, first issued in 1978 and revised in 1994. Under these 
regulations, the petitioner has the burden to present evidence that it 
meets the seven mandatory criteria in section 83.7.
    Pursuant to section 83.6(c), ``the documented petition must include 
thorough explanations and supporting documentation in response to all 
of the criteria.'' Furthermore, section 83.6(d) provides that a 
petition will be turned down for a lack of evidence. This notice of 
proposed finding is based on a determination that the St. Francis/
Sokoki Band of Abenkis of Vermont (SSA), Petitioner 68, does 
not satisfy all seven of the mandatory criteria for acknowledgment as 
an Indian tribe described in 25 CFR 83.7.
    The SSA submitted a letter of intent to petition for Federal 
acknowledgment on March 28, 1980. The AS-IA placed the petitioner on 
active consideration on February 4, 2005.
    The SSA petitioner claims to have descended as a group mainly from 
the Missisquoi, a historical Western Abenaki Indian tribe. During the 
colonial period (approximately 1600-1800), the Missiquoi occupied the 
Lake Champlain region near the present-day town of Swanton in Franklin 
County in northwestern Vermont. The available evidence in the 
historical record indicates that by 1800 the disruption caused by 
colonial wars and non-Indian settlement had forced almost all the 
Western Abenakis in northern New England (including Vermont) to 
relocate to the Saint Francis River area of Quebec, Canada, and become 
part of the St. Francis [Odanak] village of Canadian Indians. The 
petitioner, however, contends that its ancestors remained behind in 
northwestern Vermont after 1800, or moved to Canada until it was 
``safe'' to return. The petitioner also maintains that its ancestors 
lived ``underground,'' hiding their Native American identity to avoid 
drawing the attention of their non-Indian neighbors, until the 1970's. 
The details of this claimed process of living ``underground,'' however, 
are not explained by the petitioner. Some of the available 
documentation indicates that some of the group's ancestors moved from 
various locations in Quebec, Canada, to the United States over the 
course of the 19th century, but the available evidence does not 
demonstrate that the petitioner or its claimed ancestors descended from 
the St. Francis Indians of Quebec, another Indian group in Canada, a 
Missisquoi Abenaki entity in Vermont, or any other Western Abenaki 
group or Indian entity from New England in existence before or after 
1800. The available evidence indicates that no external observers from 
1800 to 1975 described the petitioner or its claimed ancestors, or any 
group of Indians, as an Indian entity or a distinct Indian community in 
northwestern Vermont.
    The SSA petitioner does not meet criterion 83.7(a), which requires 
that it has been identified as an American Indian entity on a 
substantially continuous basis since 1900. The available evidence 
demonstrates that no external observers identified the SSA petitioner 
or a group of its ancestors as an Indian entity from 1900 to 1975. 
External sources, including Federal authorities, State agencies, local 
governments, scholars, newspapers, periodicals, and Indian 
organizations, have identified SSA as some form of Indian entity only 
on a regular basis since 1976. Based on the available evidence, 
therefore, the SSA has not been identified on a substantially 
continuous basis since 1900, and does not meet criterion 83.7(a). The 
SSA petitioner is encouraged to submit documentation demonstrating that 
it has been identified as an Indian entity from 1900 to 1975. The 
current record suggests that it formed only recently in the middle 
1970's.
    The SSA does not meet criterion 83.7(b), which 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. The available evidence does not demonstrate a predominant 
portion of the SSA petitioning group's members or its claimed ancestors 
have maintained consistent interaction and significant social 
relationships throughout history. Instead, the evidence demonstrates 
that the SSA petitioner is a collection of individuals of claimed (but 
not demonstrated) Indian ancestry with little or no social or 
historical connection with each other before the early 1970's. The 
available evidence also establishes that the petitioner's claimed 
ancestors and current members have not maintained at least a minimal 
distinction from other populations in the northwestern Vermont area and 
Lake Champlain region from historical times to the present.
    The available evidence does not demonstrate the SSA petitioner has 
a historical or social connection to any Western Abenaki entity in 
existence before 1800. The petitioner has not provided sufficient 
evidence to establish that a predominant portion of its claimed 
ancestors were interacting as a group before 1800. Indeed, it is not 
known from the available evidence what these claimed ancestors were 
doing before they moved to Vermont over the course of the 19th century. 
Thus, the petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion 
83.7(b) before 1800.
    A major problem with the evidence SSA submitted to demonstrate 
community for its claimed 19th century ancestors is the use of family-
name variations to construct its ancestral family lines. The petitioner 
developed these names from family names found mainly on 19th century 
lists of St. Francis Indians at Odanak in Quebec, a historical group 
from which only a very small number of SSA's current members actually 
claim descent. It appears that the SSA petitioner took the family names 
of current members and searched for variations of those names on lists 
of Saint Francis Indians. The SSA petitioner also searched for further

[[Page 69778]]

variations of those family names in local church, town, land, school, 
and census records from the 19th century in the Franklin County area of 
Vermont, or from the ``oral traditions'' of its members. Once the 
petitioner perceived what it believed were similarities between the 
name of a present-day family and names on these historical records, it 
designated the family as part of an ``Abenaki'' community in the 
Franklin County area during the 19th century.
    The use of such a methodology to demonstrate consistent 
interactions and significant social relationships for SSA's claimed 
ancestral families is unpersuasive. Using this process means that the 
families were identified as part of a claimed ancestral community based 
on the presumption that individuals with perceived similar names had 
shared social interactions, and not because the record actually 
demonstrated consistent interactions and social relationships among 
them.
    In addition, the SSA petitioner has not submitted the documentation 
it used to create the lists of claimed ancestral families. Instead, the 
petitioner described the contents of various town, church, and census 
records, and submitted abstracted lists of various family names of 
claimed ancestors. Copies of the actual primary documents from which 
the petitioner claimed to have extracted this information were not 
submitted. Further, the SSA petitioner did not provide most of the 
interviews, field notes, or genealogical materials referenced in its 
narratives. The petitioner is encouraged to submit copies of these 
documents for verification and analysis.
    Moreover, the petitioner has not provided sufficient evidence to 
explain how the claimed ancestral families which shared these family 
name or surname variations were consistently interacting in a way that 
would meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(b). For example, the 
petitioner has submitted little or no primary documentation from the 
19th century to show these claimed ancestral families had significant 
marriage rates within the group, significant social relationships 
(formal or informal) connecting individual ancestors, important 
cooperative labor or other economic activities among claimed ancestors, 
or noteworthy sacred or secular behavior involving most of the group. 
It is also unclear if most of the claimed ancestral families from the 
19th century actually have descendants in SSA's current membership.
    The petitioner has also described or provided abstracted lists of 
family names from four categories of evidence: local historical 
accounts, church and town records, Federal census data, and 
genealogical research on Abenaki family names, which it claims 
demonstrates the existence of its ancestral community in northwestern 
Vermont during the 19th century. It has not submitted copies of the 
documents referenced in the four groups of evidence and is encouraged 
to do so. Despite the lack of primary documentation, an evaluation of 
the limited available evidence does not indicate the four categories of 
evidence demonstrate that a predominant portion of the group's claimed 
ancestors comprised a distinct community during the 19th century. 
Rather, the evaluation reveals that many of the petitioner's claimed 
ancestral families began migrating to Vermont as individual families, 
beginning slowly in a disconnected fashion in the early 19th century, 
and continuing in a very gradual manner until well into the 20th 
century. Many came from unknown places in Quebec or separate locations 
throughout the Canadian province. Others came from Massachusetts, New 
York, Connecticut, or Rhode Island. There is no available evidence 
showing these families interacted with each other as part of a 
community in Canada or elsewhere in the United States. There is also no 
evidence to demonstrate that the claimed ancestors migrated to Vermont 
as a group or acted as part of a community distinct in some way from 
the wider society after they arrived in Vermont. Thus, the petitioner 
does not meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(b) from 1800 to 1900.
    The information presented by the petitioner does not indicate the 
presence of a group or a community of the petitioner's claimed 
ancestors from 1900 to the early 1970's; rather, it indicates only that 
some of the current petitioner's claimed ancestors lived in Franklin 
County, Vermont (particularly in the Town of Swanton) during the 20th 
century. The petitioner submitted very few copies of primary documents 
such as birth certificates, land records, or census enumerations, 
choosing instead to submit abstracts of this information. These 
abstracts, however, are inadequate for the purposes of the Department's 
verification research and evaluation, which require copies of original 
documents. Furthermore, on several occasions when original documents 
were located by the Department or submitted by the State of Vermont, 
they did not contain the information the petitioner claimed.
    Information provided by the petitioner and located by the 
Department does not demonstrate that the ancestors claimed by the 
petitioner formed an ``enclave'' in the Town of Swanton, Vermont. Some 
claimed ancestors lived on the streets defined as making up an area of 
the town referred to as ``Back Bay,'' but others lived elsewhere in the 
town, and nonmember families also appear to have lived on these 
streets. The petitioner has not demonstrated the existence of a 
distinct community within Swanton, Vermont, consisting of the 
petitioner's ancestors, or that those ancestors constituted a 
``community-within-a-community'' among the French-Canadian or Roman 
Catholic families in the town. The petitioner also has not demonstrated 
that assorted references to ``Abenaki'' Indians refer to their 
ancestors, rather than to Abenaki from New England and Canada who 
traveled to the area to hunt, fish, or sell crafts.
    The group maintains that it did not keep membership lists before 
the 1970's and the initial organization of the SSA. However, the 
petition lacks the type of evidence which, in the absence of formal 
lists, would help to define the makeup of a community, such as lists of 
attendees at meetings or other gatherings, letters detailing 
interaction among people in religious or social organizations, or 
journals describing the participation by people in rituals such as 
baptisms, marriages, and funerals. Without this information, it is not 
possible to determine who was supposed to have been a member of this 
``group'' before the 1970's. Membership standards since the 1970's 
indicate a very fluid group, with few clearly-defined, consistent 
standards for membership.
    After the formal organization of the SSA in the early 1970's, the 
group became a more organized body, with an emphasis on providing 
services such as after-school programs and vocational training through 
the Abenaki Self-Help Association, Incorporated (ASHAI), the group's 
social-welfare organization. The group has also introduced some 
elements of Western Abenaki and pan-Indian culture into their 
gatherings, and has actively sought to establish relations with other 
non-federally recognized groups and recognized Indian tribes (both in 
Canada and the United States). These developments notwithstanding, the 
group has not displayed a level of community that would meet criterion 
83.7(b) from 1975 to the present. The social and cultural elements are 
of recent introduction, and there is not enough information to indicate 
that these events are of more than symbolic value to the group as a 
whole, rather than to a few involved members. Although the SAA group 
has organized

[[Page 69779]]

events that allow its members to meet and socialize, the petitioner has 
not demonstrated that a significant portion of its membership regularly 
associate with each other. The lack of documentation also makes it 
difficult to determine who among the membership has participated in the 
group's various activities.
    The SSA petitioner has not demonstrated that a distinct community 
of the petitioner's ancestors existed in Franklin County, Vermont, 
during the 19th century, and has not satisfied the requirements for 
criterion 83.7(b) at any time before 1975. Further, the group has not 
provided sufficient evidence of community to establish that it meets 
criterion 83.7(b) since 1975. Therefore, the petitioner has not met the 
requirements of criterion 83.7(b).
    The SSA petitioner does not meet criterion 83.7(c), which requires 
that it has maintained political influence or authority over its 
members as an autonomous entity from historical times until the 
present. The SSA petitioner claims it expressed political influence 
mainly through ``family bands'' before the formation of its council in 
the middle of the 1970's. The available evidence from potential 
antecedent entities, however, indicates that the historical Western 
Abenaki actually had a well-developed political organization during the 
colonial period consisting of a ``civil chief'' and a ``war chief''. 
The ``civil chief'' presided over a ``great council'' composed of the 
``war chief'' and the ``elders'' of the families. At the Saint Francis 
(Odanak) village in Quebec during the 1700's, the ``council'' contained 
a ``grand chief'' and several other ``chiefs''. The names and political 
activities of most of these leaders are not well known. However, 
historical records reveal two well-documented political figures among 
the Western Abenaki before 1800--Chiefs Grey Lock and Joseph-Louis 
Gill. Grey Lock gained prominence in the first half of the 18th 
century, and Joseph-Louis Gill in the latter half. Yet, as described 
previously under criterion 83.7(b), the available evidence does not 
demonstrate the current petitioner or its claimed ancestral families 
descended as a group from any Western Abenaki tribe either in Quebec 
and/or Vermont. Thus, evidence of political activity for Western 
Abenaki chiefs like Grey Lock and Joseph-Louis Gill (or an unnamed 
Abenaki ``chief'' identified in a 1765 lease as the late husband of a 
widow named ``Charlotte'') during the colonial period does not 
demonstrate political influence among the SSA's claimed ancestors. The 
petitioner has also not provided other evidence of what its specific 
claimed ancestors might have been doing as a group to exercise 
political influence before 1800.
    The evidence presented for the 19th century is also inadequate. The 
petitioner has not submitted evidence to demonstrate what its claimed 
ancestors were doing between 1800 and 1875 to exercise political 
influence or authority across the group, particularly as many of the 
people identified as the ancestors of the petitioner were living in 
various towns across Quebec, Canada, during this time. For 1875 to 
1900, the petitioner claimed that individuals such as Nazaire St. 
Francis, Sr., and Cordelia (Freemore) Brow served as informal leaders 
of a group of their claimed ancestors in the ``Back Bay'' area of the 
Town of Swanton, Vermont; however, the petitioner has not demonstrated 
that any of these individuals exercised authority over a group of the 
petitioner's claimed ancestors. For the first 75 years of the 20th 
century, the petitioner has presented little evidence demonstrating 
informal leadership among any portion of the petitioner's claimed 
ancestors. Information describing Nazaire St. Francis, Jr., Gene Cote, 
and Cordelia (Freemore) Brow as informal leaders must be supplemented 
with additional information if the petitioner wishes to substantiate 
its claims. The petitioner has not demonstrated informal or formal 
political authority among a group of its claimed ancestors at any time 
before 1975, and therefore, does not satisfy the requirements for 
criterion 83.7(c) for this time period.
    During the 1970's, SSA appears to have become politically active 
after its formal organization. In addition to ASHAI, the group also 
formed a ``tribal council.'' Under the leadership of ``chiefs'' Homer 
St. Francis and Leonard Lampman, the group began their petition for 
Federal acknowledgment, instituted some social and cultural programs, 
and engaged the state of Vermont in a number of legal battles. However, 
the petition lacks evidence to demonstrate that participation in the 
group's political processes was widespread across the membership of the 
group. The lack of sign-in sheets from meetings is problematic because 
it is difficult to demonstrate who exactly was involved in the group's 
various meetings. Further, the lack of 17 years of minutes from ASHAI 
and the lack of 11 years of ``tribal council'' meeting minutes (as well 
as redacted ASHAI and council minutes spanning 8 and 9 years 
respectively) makes it difficult to understand what issues were 
important to the group and who was participating in the group's 
political organization. The petitioner has not demonstrated that the 
organization formed after 1975 has a bilateral relationship between the 
membership and the elected (or appointed) governing body, in which the 
leadership acknowledges and responds to the concerns of the membership. 
Rather, the evidence indicates that political influence is limited to 
the actions of a small number of members pursuing an agenda with a 
minimal amount of input from the membership. Therefore, the petitioner 
has not satisfied the requirements of criterion 83.7(c) since 1975.
    The SSA petitioner meets criterion 83.7(d), which requires the 
petitioner to submit its governing document, including its membership 
criteria. The petitioner submitted a copy of its constitution, which 
defines its procedures by which it governs its affairs and its members, 
and which requires members to document descent from (1) an Abenaki 
family listed on the 1765 James Robertson lease; or (2) Abenaki 
ancestors as determined by the petitioner's governing body.
    The SSA petitioner does not meet criterion 83.7(e), which requires 
that the petitioner's members descend from a historical Indian tribe or 
from tribes that combined and functioned as a single autonomous 
political entity. Eight current members (less than 1 percent of the 
group) have documented descent from a historical individual identified 
in the 19th century as a member of the St. Francis Abenaki tribe at 
Odanak, Quebec, Canada, but have not documented descent from historic 
individuals identified as members of the Missisquoi Abenaki. None of 
the petitioner's remaining 1,163 members have documented descent from 
any of the presumed Abenaki persons listed on the 1765 James Robertson 
lease or from any persons identified on any other list, census, or 
primary or reliable secondary document as members of a historical 
Missisquoi Abenaki or historical Western Abenaki Indian tribe, or any 
other historical tribal entity. Therefore, the petitioner does not 
satisfy the requirements of criterion 83.7(e).
    Criterion 83.7(e) also requires that the petitioner submit an 
official membership list of all known current members, and that the 
petitioner's governing body provide a separate certification of that 
membership list. The petitioner's official membership list of August 9, 
2005, which needs to be separately certified by the petitioner's 
governing body, contained 2,506 entries, but only 1,171 individuals on 
that list were members who had submitted signed application forms and 
provided documentation required by the petitioner.

[[Page 69780]]

    The SSA petitioner meets criterion 83.7(f), which requires that a 
petitioning group be comprised principally of persons who are not 
members of any acknowledged North American Indian tribe. The petitioner 
has indicated that a number of current members are not listed on the 
group's current membership list. Thus, this conclusion for criterion 
83.7(f) does not apply to those individuals whose names were not 
submitted.
    The SSA petitioner meets criterion 83.7(g) because there is no 
evidence in the record that the petitioner or its members have been 
explicitly terminated or forbidden a Federal relationship by an act of 
Congress.
    Based on this preliminary factual determination, the Department 
proposes not to extend Federal Acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe under 
25 CFR Part 83 to the petitioner known as the St. Francis/Sokoki Band 
of Abenakis of Vermont.
    As provided by 25 CFR 83.1(h) of the regulations, a report 
summarizing the evidence, reasoning, and analyses that are the basis 
for the proposed decision will be provided to the petitioner and 
interested parties, and is available to other parties upon written 
request.
    Comments on the proposed finding and/or requests for a copy of the 
report of evidence should be addressed to the Office of the Assistant 
Secretary--Indian Affairs, 1951 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, 
DC 20240, Attention: Office of Federal Acknowledgment, Mail Stop 34B-
SIB.
    Comments on the proposed finding should be submitted within 180 
calendar days from the date of publication of this notice. The period 
for comment on a proposed finding may be extended for up to an 
additional 180 days at the AS-IA's discretion upon a finding of good 
cause (83.10(i)). Comments by interested and informed parties must be 
provided to the petitioner as well as to the Federal government 
(83.10(h)). After the close of the 180-day comment period, and any 
extensions, the petitioner has 60 calendar days to respond to third-
party comments (83.10(k)). This period may be extended at the AS-IA's 
discretion, if warranted by the extent and nature of the comments.
    After the expiration of the comment and response periods described 
above, the Department will consult with the petitioner concerning 
establishment of a schedule for preparation of the final determination. 
The AS-IA will publish the final determination of the petitioner's 
status in the Federal Register as provided in 25 CFR 83.10(1), at a 
time that is consistent with that schedule.

    Dated: November 9, 2005.
James E. Cason,
Associate Deputy Secretary.
[FR Doc. 05-22756 Filed 11-16-05; 8:45 am]
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