Final Determination Against Federal Acknowledgment of the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee, 61023-61027 [2017-27764]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 246 / Tuesday, December 26, 2017 / Notices d. Provide any other information that will help the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), staff determine which HUD office may have responsive records. If your request is seeking records pertaining to another living individual, you must include a statement from that individual certifying their agreement for you to access their records. Without the above information, the HUD FOIA Office may not conduct an effective search, and your request may be denied due to lack of specificity or lack of compliance with regulations. CONTESTING RECORD PROCEDURES: The Department’s rules for contesting contents of records and appealing initial denials appear in 24 CFR part 16, Implementation of the Privacy Act of 1974. Additional assistance may be obtained by contacting Helen Goff Foster, Chief Privacy Officer, 451 Seventh Street SW, Room number 10139, Washington, DC 20410. Individuals desiring to contest records may also refer to the HUD Privacy Act Handbook available on the website: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/ HUD?src=/program_offices/ administration/hudclips/handbooks/ admh/1325.1. NOTIFICATION PROCEDURES: Individuals wishing to determine whether this system of records contains information about them may do so by contacting HUD’s Privacy Office or Freedom of Information Act Office at the addresses above. EXEMPTIONS PROMULGATED FOR THE SYSTEM: None HISTORY: Not applicable. This is a new SORN. Dated: December 11, 2017. Helen Goff Foster Senior Agency Official for Privacy. [FR Doc. 2017–27767 Filed 12–22–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES [189A2100DD/AAKC001030/ A0A501010.999900253G] Final Determination Against Federal Acknowledgment of the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Department of the Interior (Department) gives notice that SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Dec 22, 2017 Jkt 244001 the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs, exercising the authority of the Assistant Secretary— Indian Affairs has determined that the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee (GTEC) is not an Indian Tribe within the meaning of Federal law. This notice is based on a determination that affirms the reasoning, analysis, and conclusions in the Proposed Finding (PF) that the petitioner does not satisfy the seven mandatory criteria for acknowledgment set forth in the applicable regulations. Therefore, it does not meet the requirements for a government-togovernment relationship with the United States. Based on the limited nature and extent of comments, and consistent with prior practices, the Government is not producing a separate detailed report or other summary under the criteria to accompany this Final Determination (FD), because neither the petitioner nor interested parties have submitted significant new evidence or analysis that changes the conclusions in the PF. The PF, as supplemented by this notice, is affirmed. This notice constitutes the FD. DATES: This FD is final and will become effective on March 26, 2018, unless the petitioner or an interested party files a request for reconsideration pursuant to 25 CFR 83.11. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Holly Reckord, Acting Director, Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA), (202) 513–7650. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to 25 CFR 83.10(h), the Department publishes this notice in the exercise of authority delegated by the Secretary of the Interior to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs (PDAS–IA) by 209 DM 8. The Department issued a PF not to acknowledge the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee (GTEC), Petitioner #41, on May 6, 2016, and published notice of the PF in the Federal Register on May 13, 2016. This FD affirms the PF that the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee, P.O. Box 1411, Dahlonega, GA 30533, c/o Mr. Coleman J. Seabolt, does not meet the seven mandatory criteria for acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe. The petitioner seeks Federal acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe under 25 CFR part 83, ‘‘Procedures for Federal Acknowledgment of Indian tribes,’’ dated July 1, 2015. The petitioner was under active consideration when the revised rule was published. It chose by letter of October 24, 2015, signed by its governing body, to have its petition evaluation completed under the superseded Federal acknowledgment PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 61023 regulations as published in 25 CFR part 83, revised as of April 1, 1994, as permitted in 83.7(b) of the 2015 Federal acknowledgment regulations. This FD is issued in accord with that request. Publication of notice of the PF in the Federal Register initiated the 180-day comment period provided in the regulations at § 83.10(i). Neither GTEC nor other parties asked the AS–IA to hold an on-the-record technical assistance meeting under § 83.10(j)(2). After two 180-day extensions and one 90-day extension requested by the petitioner, the comment period closed and GTEC submitted its comments on August 7, 2017. Principal Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee Nation, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, Oklahoma 74465, submitted a two-page letter dated November 12, 2016, to OFA and provided a copy to GTEC, as required by the regulations per § 83.10(i). Chief Baker’s letter supported the Department’s PF not to acknowledge GTEC, but it did not contain new evidence or analysis. The acknowledgment regulations at § 83.10(k) provide a petitioner 60 days to respond to comments on the PF from interested or informed parties. The petitioner’s attorney submitted a response to Chief Baker’s comments in the form of a letter postmarked October 2, 2017, within the regulatory deadline ending October 6, 2017. In a letter dated October 11, 2017, OFA informed the petitioner that it would move forward with the FD per § 83.10(1) on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, and issue a FD on or before Monday, December 18, 2017. The publication of this FD in the form of a Federal Register notice complies with that letter. The petitioner submitted one threering binder containing its comments on the PF. It included narratives, chronologies arranged under the seven mandatory criteria, photocopies of Georgia laws, one oral history transcript, and a photograph of unnamed school children. These materials made reference to ‘‘supplement folders . . . included in the original petition,’’ received in OFA February 14, 2002, and already evaluated in the PF. The binder also included a single page of eleven names of spouses either of current members or of ancestors. It claimed these spouses had Cherokee ancestry from ‘‘Cherokee bloodlines’’ that were different from the Cherokee lines of descent analyzed in the PF. GTEC did not submit vital records, charts, or other genealogical evidence and analysis tracing these eleven spouses generation by generation to Indian ancestors in the Cherokee Nation before the final Removal in 1838, nor did the petitioner E:\FR\FM\26DEN1.SGM 26DEN1 ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 61024 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 246 / Tuesday, December 26, 2017 / Notices include any of the living spouses on its membership list. This FD reviews and evaluates the petitioner’s comments together with the record for the PF and third party comments to determine if they change the Department’s reasoning, analysis, and conclusions under §§ 83.8 and 83.7. The PF found that the petitioner did not have unambiguous previous Federal acknowledgment and did not meet criteria 83.7(a), (b), and (c). The petitioner met criteria (d), (e), (f) and (g). The petitioner’s comments contain the same, similar, or related documents already in the PF record. Because the PF is posted on OFA’s website and already addressed in detail most of these documents, readers should read this FD in conjunction with the PF. The petitioner’s comments raise the issue of pre-removal laws of the State of Georgia prohibiting the pre-removal Cherokee Nation from meeting in council, governing, or applying its laws within State boundaries, which Georgia considered included all of the territory simultaneously claimed by the Cherokee Nation. The Department’s researchers evaluated Georgia laws pertaining to Indians, including the 1828 Act of the Georgia Assembly, which OFA sent to the petitioner during the comment period. The petitioner’s leaders had told the Department’s researchers during a field visit before issuing the PF and then in its September 29, 2017, comments that the Department should consider these laws, which the State repealed in 1970, as a ‘‘mitigating factor’’ when evaluating their petition. The regulations at § 83.6(e) direct the Government to take into account ‘‘historical situations and time periods for which evidence is demonstrably limited or not available’’ and the ‘‘limitations inherent in demonstrating the historical existence of community and political influence or authority.’’ Some evidence—war, illiteracy, discrimination, and, as in this case, hostile actions by States and localities— may hinder interactions and limit documentation, causing fluctuations in activity or documentation. Gasoline costs during the Great Depression and rationing during WWII, for example, limited some petitioners from meeting, but after the war, interactions became common again, and petitioners affected by such events have been acknowledged (see Cowlitz Indian Tribe). For purposes of evaluating the available evidence for purposes of continuous existence, there is a difference, however, between fluctuations in available evidence and activity over time, and both the absence of evidence for extended periods or the cessation of activity over time—in this VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Dec 22, 2017 Jkt 244001 case for more than 170 years. Here, the Department does not find a fluctuation because the period of inactivity was so long and the petitioner fundamentally represents a newly created descendant organization. Even after the law’s repeal in 1970, GTEC did not provide sufficient evidence to meet all seven criteria. After considering the petitioner’s comments, the Department concludes that the materials submitted for the FD are essentially the same as those the petitioner provided previously and do not alter the overall conclusions of the PF. Even considering limitations in providing historical evidence, and taking into account the State laws, the Department concludes that at no time from 1838 to the present does the evidence demonstrate that GTEC formed a community distinct from non-Indians, established an autonomous governing entity, or had contemporary external identifications as an Indian entity. Thus, the petitioner does not meet the requirements for acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe under the regulations. This FD affirms the PF. Unambiguous Previous Federal Acknowledgment: Previous Federal acknowledgment means ‘‘action by the Federal Government clearly premised on identification of a tribal political entity and indicating clearly the recognition of a relationship between that entity and the United States’’ (§ 83.1). Such unambiguous Federal acknowledgment must be demonstrated through substantial evidence. (§ 83.8(a)). This FD finds that evidence in the record does not show that the Federal Government took action clearly indicative of recognition of a political relationship between the United States and the petitioner as an Indian Tribe at any time. The PF found that the petitioner’s ancestors ‘‘separated’’ individually from the Cherokee ‘‘Nation when they did not remove with it.’’ It also found that the petitioner is not ‘‘the same tribe that treated with the United States and was removed in 1838 and is still a federally recognized tribe.’’ In its response, GTEC did not submit new evidence that GTEC’s ancestors—largely a single extended family known as the ‘‘Davises’’—with other Cherokee Indians, who did not remove, evolved from the Cherokee Nation since 1838 to become GTEC. The PF advised the petitioner to demonstrate that ‘‘it has evolved as a group out of the Cherokee Nation after 1838’’ in order to be evaluated under § 83.8. The petitioner did not submit such evidence. It submitted a new list of eleven spouses either of members or of ancestors, whom PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the petitioner claims were Cherokee in its response to the PF. However, it did not demonstrate that they were descendants of Cherokee Indians who formed a distinct Cherokee entity in Georgia with the petitioner’s ancestors from 1838 to the present. Thus, the petitioner has not demonstrated that it is either a continuation of the recognized Cherokee Nation or a portion of the Cherokee Nation that has evolved and existed continuously since the Cherokee Removal, as required by § 83.8 of the 1994 regulations. Moreover, there is no evidence that the United States has ever unambiguously acknowledged the petitioner, any of its individual ancestors, or the Davis family, as a distinct tribal entity at any time. The reasoning, analysis, and conclusions pertaining to previous acknowledgment under § 83.8 in the PF are affirmed. Because this FD finds that the Petitioner did not provide substantial evidence that demonstrates unambiguous previous Federal acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe, the provisions of § 83.8(d) do not modify the requirements of the mandatory acknowledgment criteria 83.7(a) through (c). Historical Indian Tribe: The PF maintains that the historical Indian Tribe for this finding is the Cherokee Nation as it existed before 1838. The Department’s analysis finds that the petitioner does not represent an entity existing within the Cherokee Nation that evolved over time to form a distinct Cherokee community in Georgia. There is also a lack of evidence showing the existence of a separate Cherokee entity in northern Georgia, or an Indian entity composed of the petitioner’s ancestors. Therefore, the historical Indian Tribe remains the Cherokee Nation as it existed before 1838. The petitioner’s Indian ancestors and more than 90 percent of its members represent a multi-generation extended family founded in 1808 at the marriage of Cherokee ancestor Rachel Martin to non-Indian Daniel Davis. Their descendants, who self-identified as ‘‘the Davises’’ or ‘‘the Family,’’ resided in a part of the historical territory of the Cherokee Nation, now Lumpkin County, Georgia, before 1838. Rachel Martin and her ten children were citizens of the Cherokee Nation in Georgia, and Daniel Davis held a special status as her spouse. The PF found that GTEC’s ancestors interacted before 1838 with politically influential Cherokee families, who formed a political network that advanced their interests within the Cherokee Nation. After the Removal, 22 Cherokee families stayed in Lumpkin County and nearby areas but did not form a Cherokee community with the E:\FR\FM\26DEN1.SGM 26DEN1 ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 246 / Tuesday, December 26, 2017 / Notices Davises nor establish a political organization comprising Cherokee still in Georgia. Instead, GTEC’s Davis ancestors lived in a rural neighborhood with non-Indians, with whom they interacted and often married. These Davises viewed their non-Indian inlaws, in-laws’ families, and neighbors as part of their community. All attended the same churches and schools, and were buried in the same cemeteries. GTEC names the same Davis family heads as GTEC leaders from 1838 to the present as it had identified for the PF and describes their political activities— as sheriff, running for political office, voting in a district block, and dealing with moonshiners—in the wider community. The Davises were not distinct socially or politically from nonIndian neighbors or in-laws. A much smaller portion of the membership— about 8 percent—trace their Cherokee ancestry only from Pinkney Howell, who resided in the Cherokee Nation before the Removal, but did not remove. Evidence shows that these descendants of Howell participated in neighborhood activities, which included the Davises and non-Indians, and are enrolled in the petitioner. Criterion 83.7(a) requires that external observers have identified the petitioner as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900. The petitioner does not present new material in its response to the PF; it simply revisits the materials already in the record. The petitioner argues that these documents ‘‘prove that the tribe has been identified in a continuous manner’’ since 1900. GTEC also contends that since Georgia law prevented its ancestors from forming an Indian community or political organization from 1838 to 1970, it could not have been identified. The petitioner believes that this legal limitation should be treated as a ‘‘mitigating factor’’ in weighing its evidence under the regulations. This argument is not persuasive, however, since shortly after Removal, ‘‘on December 29, 1838, the Georgia legislature granted citizenship to 22 families’’ of Cherokees in the State. The petitioner’s ancestors, the Davises, were one of the 22 families named in this law, which allowed them and their descendants in Georgia to ‘‘enjoy all the rights and privileges that appertain and belong to the free citizens of this State.’’ Thus, the prior state laws that hindered, disabled, and harassed the Cherokee government and people, would not apply to those 22 named families that remained in the State. These Cherokees, including the petitioner’s ancestors, could now enjoy VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Dec 22, 2017 Jkt 244001 all the rights of other free citizens of Georgia and no longer had to suffer ‘‘all disabilities heretofore imposed upon said persons of the Cherokee tribe of Indians.’’ In addition, as free citizens, the State’s Black codes applied previously to Indians, beginning in the early 1800s, no longer applied to these named families. Evidence is insufficient to show that any of those remaining 22 families, formed a group, even informally, following the Removal of the Nation in 1838, which external sources could have identified. This FD finds insufficient evidence in the record of substantially continuous identifications of GTEC from 1900 to the present. Therefore, the petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion § 83.7(a). Many of the documents submitted relate to portions of the historical Cherokee Nation’s history leading up to and through the Removal era and identify Cherokee individuals on various historical lists. There are few original, contemporary documents relating to the period after 1900 as required by this criterion. Some such records identify individuals as Indian, but few contain contemporary identifications of an Indian entity in Lumpkin County, where most of the petitioner’s ancestors lived, from 1900 to the present. Identifications in the record are from 1977 to 1981, and again from 1996 to 2001, but it is insufficient to satisfy criterion § 83.7(a), which requires identifications ‘‘on a substantially continuous basis since 1900,’’ and which has been interpreted as requiring an identification every tenyear period. Further, there is a lack of available evidence identifying the group even after the date it incorporated in 1977. There are many claims of lawsuits and court actions, but very little evidence was actually submitted for the record. Many of the records that may have been intended to address criterion § 83.7(a) appear to be self-identifications generated by present members of the petitioner, ‘‘at present’’ (and not since 1900 to the present), or retrospective accounts, or identifications of individual Indian descendants, and not of a group. None of these identifications are acceptable evidence under this criterion. The petitioner does not meet criterion § 83.7(a) based on evidence and analysis in the PF and this supplemental analysis addressing the evidence in the summary and response. This FD affirms the PF under criterion § 83.7(a). The PF found that GTEC failed to meet both criteria 83.7(b) and (c). Criterion 83.7(b) requires that GTEC has been a distinct community from historical times to the present, and PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 61025 criterion 83.7(c) requires that it has maintained autonomous political influence since historical times within that community. The petitioner’s comments on the PF contains no new evidence or other analysis—other than its arguments concerning the effects of State laws on their social and political organization—that, when evaluated with evidence for the PF, would change the PF’s conclusions on criteria 83.7(b) and (c). GTEC does not have the kinds of evidence listed in § 83.7(b), such as significant rates of in-group or patterned out-marriage rates, significant rates of informal social interaction within a distinct Indian group comprising its members, persistent group identity, or exclusive settlements, nor did it offer any suitable alternative forms of evidence that it was a distinct community. Furthermore, it does not have evidence to satisfy criterion 83.7(c), such as the group being politically autonomous and able to mobilize significant numbers of members or resources for group purposes, or a membership that considers issues acted upon or actions taken by leaders of governing bodies to be of particular importance to the membership. There is no evidence of leaders or councils allocating group resources, settling disputes, making decisions, or influencing behavior within an Indian group beyond their families. GTEC contends that Georgia law prohibited its ancestors from forming an Indian community or political organization from the final Removal in 1838 to 1970, which should be treated as a ‘‘mitigating factor’’ in weighing its evidence under the regulations. The PF discusses in detail Georgia’s hostility to the Cherokee Nation and the postremoval laws that made GTEC’s Indian ancestors free and citizens of the State on a par with White citizens and removed legal barriers to participation in non-Indian society. In sum, as discussed above, these laws did not apply to the petitioner’s ancestors who became citizens in 1838, and in any event were repealed in 1970. GTEC lacks evidence that its ancestors attempted to socialize or interact with the 21 other known Indian families in Georgia. There is no evidence that they formed an informal social group, church, historical society or institution that would have served as a base for a political organization of some kind. Even after 1970, when some GTEC members and others claiming Indian descent attempted to establish a formal organization, they were initially unable to identify an existing group of E:\FR\FM\26DEN1.SGM 26DEN1 ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 61026 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 246 / Tuesday, December 26, 2017 / Notices Cherokee to organize. Because the record lacks evidence that its members and ancestors continuously maintained a distinct Indian community and autonomous political organization for more than 170 years including at present, it cannot meet criteria (b) or (c), even considering § 83.6. GTEC also claims in its comments that eleven particular spouses of the Davises or Howells are also Cherokee descendants through ‘‘families with Indian heritage’’ other than Davis or Howell, but it submitted no documents showing that these individuals descend from other Indians in the Cherokee Nation before Removal. No additional Indian ancestry was found for any of these spouses. Eight of these spouses descend from the Davises or Howells, and no Indian ancestry was found for the remaining three spouses, as far as the Department could determine based on the evidence in the record. Most of these spouses, including those whom the petitioner claimed had other Indian ‘‘blood lines,’’ had ancestors who resided in the small rural community where the Davis descendants lived after 1838. If any of these spouses are living, they are not on GTEC’s membership list. GTEC describes herbal medicine, Indian-style crafts, and traditional cooking, but these activities are not based in a distinct community and often are not different from non-Indians in Georgia. GTEC also claims members maintained a named, collective Indian identity, but evidence after 1838, including oral histories and news articles, quote GTEC’s ancestors and members identifying as Cherokee descendants, not as members of an existing Indian entity. GTEC submitted no evidence to show its current activities involve most of its members. The petition describes the annual picnic as a family reunion, which underscores the petitioner as an extended family, not a community. GTEC failed to show it has maintained a distinct community comprising its members and their Indian ancestors at any time after 1838 and thus does not meet criterion (b). The PF found that the petitioner did not meet Criterion 83.7(c) from 1838 to the present. As described in more detail above in the summary of the PF, criterion (c) requires petitioners to be an autonomous political entity in which members and leaders have continuously maintained a political relationship with each other. The Indian descendants from their rural neighborhood did not form an autonomous political entity, characterized by meaningful political relationships between leaders and followers to make decisions, resolve conflicts, manage resources, cooperate VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Dec 22, 2017 Jkt 244001 on projects, or function politically in any way. GTEC’s comments did not include new documents dating between 1838 and 1925 about the churches, cemeteries, and schools in their neighborhood that would show these institutions were run by a GTEC entity. They did not submit new evidence that demonstrates autonomous political activity within any other institution or Cherokee entity. The petitioner’s comments also do not reverse the PF that found there was insufficient evidence that the petitioner’s membership supports GTEC leaders or informs their actions since 1838, nor after 1970, when the State statutes the petitioner claims blocked any political activity by Indians were repealed. In 1976, the Georgia Assembly created a ‘‘Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee,’’ but it was an entirely new entity that had never before existed, comprising persons claiming Cherokee descent—often without evidence proving their claims—from throughout Georgia. The legislation did not require applicants to be part of an already existing Indian entity. This State-created group was not the petitioner, although some of its original leaders would later form the petitioner, also named GTEC. As discussed in the PF, leadership in the original group in the 1970s does not show leadership in GTEC. Furthermore, the PF found that since 1980, the petitioner’s named leaders have quarreled and only focused intermittently (including a more than ten-year period of inactivity) on gaining Federal acknowledgment and on combating other groups or individuals claiming to be the State-recognized entity. The evidence available on these activities was insufficient to demonstrate political influence or authority within GTEC. The petitioner did not submit new evidence that would cure deficiencies detailed in the PF. It did not submit evidence that demonstrates the petitioner maintained political influence or authority over its members, which meets criterion (c) at any time after 1838. This FD affirms the conclusions of the PF that the petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(c) for political authority. Criterion 83.7(d) requires a copy of the group’s present governing document, including its membership criteria. The petitioner provided evidence that satisfied the requirements of criterion 83.7(d) for the PF. This FD affirms the conclusions of the PF that the petitioner meets the requirements of Criterion 83.7(d). Criterion (e) requires that the petitioner’s membership consists of individuals who descend from a PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 historical Indian Tribe or from historical Indian Tribes, which combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity. The PF found that GTEC met this criterion. The PF found that about 90 percent (413 of 458) of those persons listed on its current membership list, dated August 10, 2013, descend from the historical Indian Tribe, the Cherokee Nation as it existed before the Cherokee Removal. These members descend through Rachel Martin, a citizen of the historical Cherokee Nation before 1838, and her non-Indian husband Daniel Davis, and a small percentage descend as well or solely from Pinkney Howell, a Cherokee descendant who resided in Lumpkin County after the Removal. However, the petitioner’s response did not supplement the record with evidence for the 10 percent of the current members who did not provide the necessary evidence to demonstrate their own lines of descent as the PF suggested, so the PF calculation that 90 percent (413 of 458) of those persons listed on its membership list, dated August 10, 2013, descend from the historical Cherokee Nation as it existed before the final Removal in 1838 remains unchanged. The petitioner submitted as part of its response a list of eleven names of spouses of current members or of ancestors. None of these spouses alive in 2013 when the membership list was certified by the governing body appear on it. The petitioner claims that these spouses had possible alternate Cherokee ancestry not connected to the Davises or Howells, but the petitioner did not provide evidence demonstrating generation-by-generation descent to the Cherokee Nation before 1838. The OFA was unable to locate evidence from publically available records to demonstrate under the reasonable likelihood standard that it is more likely than not that there are any new lines of Cherokee descent in the membership based on the ancestry of these eleven individuals. This FD affirms the conclusions of the PF that the petitioner meets the requirements of criterion 83.7(e). Criterion (f) requires that the membership of the petitioner be composed principally of persons who are not members of any federally acknowledged Indian Tribe. The PF found that 13 GTEC members were enrolled in the Cherokee Nation, a federally recognized Tribe in Oklahoma, and no members were enrolled in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a federally recognized Indian Tribe in North Carolina. Ninety-seven percent (445 of 458) of the GTEC members are E:\FR\FM\26DEN1.SGM 26DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 246 / Tuesday, December 26, 2017 / Notices not members of any federally acknowledged Indian Tribe. Because the GTEC petitioner is composed principally of persons who are not members of other federally-recognized Indian Tribes, it therefore meets this criterion. Criterion (g) requires that neither the petitioner nor its members are the subject of congressional legislation that has expressly terminated or forbidden the Federal relationship. The PF stated that the petitioner met criterion (g), and neither the petitioner nor other party submitted new evidence to change that conclusion. Therefore, the petitioner meets the requirements of criterion 83.7(g). This Federal Register notice under 25 CFR part 83 is the FD to deny Federal acknowledgment to the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee petitioner. The petitioner does not satisfy all seven of the mandatory criteria in § 83.7, and therefore, the AS–IA declines to acknowledge that the petitioner is an Indian Tribe under § 83.10(m). As provided in § 83.10(h) of the regulations, this FD summarizes the evidence, reasoning, and analyses that form the bases for this decision. In addition to its publication in the Federal Register, this notice will be posted on the Department’s Indian Affairs website at www.bia.gov. This FD on GTEC will become a final and effective agency action 90 days after the publication of this notice in the Federal Register, unless the petitioner or interested party files a request for reconsideration under the procedures in § 83.11, with the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA). The IBIA must receive this request no later than 90 days of the publication of this Federal Register notice. The final determination will become effective as provided in the regulations 90 days from the Federal Register publication unless a request for reconsideration is filed within that time period. Dated: December 14, 2017. John Tahsuda, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs, Exercising the Authority of the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs. ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES [FR Doc. 2017–27764 Filed 12–22–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4337–15–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:21 Dec 22, 2017 Jkt 244001 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [18X.LLAZ956000.L14400000.BJ0000.LXSS A225000.241A] Notice of Filing of Plats of Survey; Arizona Bureau of Land Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice of official filing. AGENCY: The plats of survey of the following described lands were officially filed in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Arizona State Office, Phoenix, Arizona, on the dates indicated. Surveys announced in this notice are necessary for the management of lands administered by the agencies indicated. SUMMARY: These plats will be available for inspection in the Arizona State Office, Bureau of Land Management, One North Central Avenue, Suite 800, Phoenix, Arizona, 85004–4427. Protests of the survey should be sent to the Arizona State Director at the above address. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gerald Davis, Chief Cadastral Surveyor of Arizona; (602) 417–9558; gtdavis@ blm.gov. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1–800–877–8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Gila and Salt River Meridian, Arizona The plat, in one sheet, representing the dependent resurvey of a portion of the east boundary of the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation, Homestead Entry Survey No. 413, and a portion of the subdivisional lines, and the subdivision of section 27, and a metes-and-bounds survey of lot 13, section 27, Township 4 North, Range 7 East, accepted November 29, 2017, and officially filed December 1, 2017, for Group 1172, Arizona. This plat was prepared at the request of the United States Forest Service. The plat, in one sheet, representing the dependent resurvey of a portion of the Fourth Guide Meridian East (west boundary), the south and north boundaries, and the subdivisional lines, and the subdivision of certain sections, Township 23 North, Range 17 East, PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 61027 accepted September 13, 2017, and officially filed September 14, 2017, for Group 1164, Arizona. This plat was prepared at the request of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The plat, in one sheet, representing the dependent resurvey of a portion of the Fifth Standard Parallel North (south boundary), the independent resurvey of a portion of the Fifth Guide Meridian East (west boundary), the east boundary, and the subdivisional lines, and the subdivision of certain sections, Township 21 North, Range 21 East, accepted August 16, 2017, and officially filed August 17, 2017, for Group 1158, Arizona. This plat was prepared at the request of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The plat, in one sheet, representing the dependent resurvey of a portion of the north boundary of the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation (a portion of the south boundary), partially surveyed Township 7 South, Range 3 East, accepted November 29, 2017, and officially filed December 1, 2017, for Group 1165, Arizona. This plat was prepared at the request of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The plat, in one sheet, representing the dependent resurvey of a portion of the north boundary of the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation (south township boundary), Township 7 South, Range 4 East, accepted November 29, 2017, and officially filed December 1, 2017, for Group 1165, Arizona. This plat was prepared at the request of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The plat, in one sheet, representing the dependent resurvey of a portion of the north boundary of the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation [portions of the First Guide Meridian East (west boundary), the east boundary and the subdivisional lines], Township 7 South, Range 5 East, accepted November 29, 2017, and officially filed December 1, 2017, for Group 1165, Arizona. This plat was prepared at the request of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The plat, in one sheet, representing the dependent resurvey of a portion of the north boundary of the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation (a portion of the south boundary), Township 7 South, Range 6 East, accepted November 29, 2017, and officially filed December 1, 2017, for Group 1165, Arizona. This plat was prepared at the request of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The plat, in two sheets, representing the the dependent resurvey of a portion of the east boundary of Township 5 South, Range 22 West, and portions of metes-and-bounds surveys, Township 5 South, Range 21 and 22 West, accepted October 13, 2017, and officially filed E:\FR\FM\26DEN1.SGM 26DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 246 (Tuesday, December 26, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 61023-61027]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-27764]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Indian Affairs

[189A2100DD/AAKC001030/A0A501010.999900253G]


Final Determination Against Federal Acknowledgment of the Georgia 
Tribe of Eastern Cherokee

AGENCY: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Department of the Interior (Department) gives notice that 
the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs, exercising 
the authority of the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs has determined 
that the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee (GTEC) is not an Indian 
Tribe within the meaning of Federal law. This notice is based on a 
determination that affirms the reasoning, analysis, and conclusions in 
the Proposed Finding (PF) that the petitioner does not satisfy the 
seven mandatory criteria for acknowledgment set forth in the applicable 
regulations. Therefore, it does not meet the requirements for a 
government-to-government relationship with the United States. Based on 
the limited nature and extent of comments, and consistent with prior 
practices, the Government is not producing a separate detailed report 
or other summary under the criteria to accompany this Final 
Determination (FD), because neither the petitioner nor interested 
parties have submitted significant new evidence or analysis that 
changes the conclusions in the PF. The PF, as supplemented by this 
notice, is affirmed. This notice constitutes the FD.

DATES: This FD is final and will become effective on March 26, 2018, 
unless the petitioner or an interested party files a request for 
reconsideration pursuant to 25 CFR 83.11.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Holly Reckord, Acting Director, Office 
of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA), (202) 513-7650.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to 25 CFR 83.10(h), the Department 
publishes this notice in the exercise of authority delegated by the 
Secretary of the Interior to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary--
Indian Affairs (PDAS-IA) by 209 DM 8. The Department issued a PF not to 
acknowledge the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee (GTEC), Petitioner 
#41, on May 6, 2016, and published notice of the PF in the Federal 
Register on May 13, 2016. This FD affirms the PF that the Georgia Tribe 
of Eastern Cherokee, P.O. Box 1411, Dahlonega, GA 30533, c/o Mr. 
Coleman J. Seabolt, does not meet the seven mandatory criteria for 
acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe. The petitioner seeks Federal 
acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe under 25 CFR part 83, ``Procedures 
for Federal Acknowledgment of Indian tribes,'' dated July 1, 2015. The 
petitioner was under active consideration when the revised rule was 
published. It chose by letter of October 24, 2015, signed by its 
governing body, to have its petition evaluation completed under the 
superseded Federal acknowledgment regulations as published in 25 CFR 
part 83, revised as of April 1, 1994, as permitted in 83.7(b) of the 
2015 Federal acknowledgment regulations. This FD is issued in accord 
with that request.
    Publication of notice of the PF in the Federal Register initiated 
the 180-day comment period provided in the regulations at Sec.  
83.10(i). Neither GTEC nor other parties asked the AS-IA to hold an on-
the-record technical assistance meeting under Sec.  83.10(j)(2). After 
two 180-day extensions and one 90-day extension requested by the 
petitioner, the comment period closed and GTEC submitted its comments 
on August 7, 2017. Principal Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee 
Nation, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, Oklahoma 74465, submitted a two-page 
letter dated November 12, 2016, to OFA and provided a copy to GTEC, as 
required by the regulations per Sec.  83.10(i). Chief Baker's letter 
supported the Department's PF not to acknowledge GTEC, but it did not 
contain new evidence or analysis.
    The acknowledgment regulations at Sec.  83.10(k) provide a 
petitioner 60 days to respond to comments on the PF from interested or 
informed parties. The petitioner's attorney submitted a response to 
Chief Baker's comments in the form of a letter postmarked October 2, 
2017, within the regulatory deadline ending October 6, 2017. In a 
letter dated October 11, 2017, OFA informed the petitioner that it 
would move forward with the FD per Sec.  83.10(1) on Wednesday, October 
18, 2017, and issue a FD on or before Monday, December 18, 2017. The 
publication of this FD in the form of a Federal Register notice 
complies with that letter.
    The petitioner submitted one three-ring binder containing its 
comments on the PF. It included narratives, chronologies arranged under 
the seven mandatory criteria, photocopies of Georgia laws, one oral 
history transcript, and a photograph of unnamed school children. These 
materials made reference to ``supplement folders . . . included in the 
original petition,'' received in OFA February 14, 2002, and already 
evaluated in the PF. The binder also included a single page of eleven 
names of spouses either of current members or of ancestors. It claimed 
these spouses had Cherokee ancestry from ``Cherokee bloodlines'' that 
were different from the Cherokee lines of descent analyzed in the PF. 
GTEC did not submit vital records, charts, or other genealogical 
evidence and analysis tracing these eleven spouses generation by 
generation to Indian ancestors in the Cherokee Nation before the final 
Removal in 1838, nor did the petitioner

[[Page 61024]]

include any of the living spouses on its membership list.
    This FD reviews and evaluates the petitioner's comments together 
with the record for the PF and third party comments to determine if 
they change the Department's reasoning, analysis, and conclusions under 
Sec. Sec.  83.8 and 83.7. The PF found that the petitioner did not have 
unambiguous previous Federal acknowledgment and did not meet criteria 
83.7(a), (b), and (c). The petitioner met criteria (d), (e), (f) and 
(g). The petitioner's comments contain the same, similar, or related 
documents already in the PF record. Because the PF is posted on OFA's 
website and already addressed in detail most of these documents, 
readers should read this FD in conjunction with the PF.
    The petitioner's comments raise the issue of pre-removal laws of 
the State of Georgia prohibiting the pre-removal Cherokee Nation from 
meeting in council, governing, or applying its laws within State 
boundaries, which Georgia considered included all of the territory 
simultaneously claimed by the Cherokee Nation. The Department's 
researchers evaluated Georgia laws pertaining to Indians, including the 
1828 Act of the Georgia Assembly, which OFA sent to the petitioner 
during the comment period. The petitioner's leaders had told the 
Department's researchers during a field visit before issuing the PF and 
then in its September 29, 2017, comments that the Department should 
consider these laws, which the State repealed in 1970, as a 
``mitigating factor'' when evaluating their petition. The regulations 
at Sec.  83.6(e) direct the Government to take into account 
``historical situations and time periods for which evidence is 
demonstrably limited or not available'' and the ``limitations inherent 
in demonstrating the historical existence of community and political 
influence or authority.'' Some evidence--war, illiteracy, 
discrimination, and, as in this case, hostile actions by States and 
localities--may hinder interactions and limit documentation, causing 
fluctuations in activity or documentation. Gasoline costs during the 
Great Depression and rationing during WWII, for example, limited some 
petitioners from meeting, but after the war, interactions became common 
again, and petitioners affected by such events have been acknowledged 
(see Cowlitz Indian Tribe). For purposes of evaluating the available 
evidence for purposes of continuous existence, there is a difference, 
however, between fluctuations in available evidence and activity over 
time, and both the absence of evidence for extended periods or the 
cessation of activity over time--in this case for more than 170 years. 
Here, the Department does not find a fluctuation because the period of 
inactivity was so long and the petitioner fundamentally represents a 
newly created descendant organization. Even after the law's repeal in 
1970, GTEC did not provide sufficient evidence to meet all seven 
criteria.
    After considering the petitioner's comments, the Department 
concludes that the materials submitted for the FD are essentially the 
same as those the petitioner provided previously and do not alter the 
overall conclusions of the PF. Even considering limitations in 
providing historical evidence, and taking into account the State laws, 
the Department concludes that at no time from 1838 to the present does 
the evidence demonstrate that GTEC formed a community distinct from 
non-Indians, established an autonomous governing entity, or had 
contemporary external identifications as an Indian entity. Thus, the 
petitioner does not meet the requirements for acknowledgment as an 
Indian Tribe under the regulations. This FD affirms the PF.
    Unambiguous Previous Federal Acknowledgment: Previous Federal 
acknowledgment means ``action by the Federal Government clearly 
premised on identification of a tribal political entity and indicating 
clearly the recognition of a relationship between that entity and the 
United States'' (Sec.  83.1). Such unambiguous Federal acknowledgment 
must be demonstrated through substantial evidence. (Sec.  83.8(a)). 
This FD finds that evidence in the record does not show that the 
Federal Government took action clearly indicative of recognition of a 
political relationship between the United States and the petitioner as 
an Indian Tribe at any time.
    The PF found that the petitioner's ancestors ``separated'' 
individually from the Cherokee ``Nation when they did not remove with 
it.'' It also found that the petitioner is not ``the same tribe that 
treated with the United States and was removed in 1838 and is still a 
federally recognized tribe.'' In its response, GTEC did not submit new 
evidence that GTEC's ancestors--largely a single extended family known 
as the ``Davises''--with other Cherokee Indians, who did not remove, 
evolved from the Cherokee Nation since 1838 to become GTEC. The PF 
advised the petitioner to demonstrate that ``it has evolved as a group 
out of the Cherokee Nation after 1838'' in order to be evaluated under 
Sec.  83.8. The petitioner did not submit such evidence. It submitted a 
new list of eleven spouses either of members or of ancestors, whom the 
petitioner claims were Cherokee in its response to the PF. However, it 
did not demonstrate that they were descendants of Cherokee Indians who 
formed a distinct Cherokee entity in Georgia with the petitioner's 
ancestors from 1838 to the present. Thus, the petitioner has not 
demonstrated that it is either a continuation of the recognized 
Cherokee Nation or a portion of the Cherokee Nation that has evolved 
and existed continuously since the Cherokee Removal, as required by 
Sec.  83.8 of the 1994 regulations. Moreover, there is no evidence that 
the United States has ever unambiguously acknowledged the petitioner, 
any of its individual ancestors, or the Davis family, as a distinct 
tribal entity at any time. The reasoning, analysis, and conclusions 
pertaining to previous acknowledgment under Sec.  83.8 in the PF are 
affirmed. Because this FD finds that the Petitioner did not provide 
substantial evidence that demonstrates unambiguous previous Federal 
acknowledgment as an Indian Tribe, the provisions of Sec.  83.8(d) do 
not modify the requirements of the mandatory acknowledgment criteria 
83.7(a) through (c).
    Historical Indian Tribe: The PF maintains that the historical 
Indian Tribe for this finding is the Cherokee Nation as it existed 
before 1838. The Department's analysis finds that the petitioner does 
not represent an entity existing within the Cherokee Nation that 
evolved over time to form a distinct Cherokee community in Georgia. 
There is also a lack of evidence showing the existence of a separate 
Cherokee entity in northern Georgia, or an Indian entity composed of 
the petitioner's ancestors. Therefore, the historical Indian Tribe 
remains the Cherokee Nation as it existed before 1838.
    The petitioner's Indian ancestors and more than 90 percent of its 
members represent a multi-generation extended family founded in 1808 at 
the marriage of Cherokee ancestor Rachel Martin to non-Indian Daniel 
Davis. Their descendants, who self-identified as ``the Davises'' or 
``the Family,'' resided in a part of the historical territory of the 
Cherokee Nation, now Lumpkin County, Georgia, before 1838. Rachel 
Martin and her ten children were citizens of the Cherokee Nation in 
Georgia, and Daniel Davis held a special status as her spouse. The PF 
found that GTEC's ancestors interacted before 1838 with politically 
influential Cherokee families, who formed a political network that 
advanced their interests within the Cherokee Nation. After the Removal, 
22 Cherokee families stayed in Lumpkin County and nearby areas but did 
not form a Cherokee community with the

[[Page 61025]]

Davises nor establish a political organization comprising Cherokee 
still in Georgia. Instead, GTEC's Davis ancestors lived in a rural 
neighborhood with non-Indians, with whom they interacted and often 
married. These Davises viewed their non-Indian in-laws, in-laws' 
families, and neighbors as part of their community. All attended the 
same churches and schools, and were buried in the same cemeteries. GTEC 
names the same Davis family heads as GTEC leaders from 1838 to the 
present as it had identified for the PF and describes their political 
activities--as sheriff, running for political office, voting in a 
district block, and dealing with moonshiners--in the wider community. 
The Davises were not distinct socially or politically from non-Indian 
neighbors or in-laws. A much smaller portion of the membership--about 8 
percent--trace their Cherokee ancestry only from Pinkney Howell, who 
resided in the Cherokee Nation before the Removal, but did not remove. 
Evidence shows that these descendants of Howell participated in 
neighborhood activities, which included the Davises and non-Indians, 
and are enrolled in the petitioner.
    Criterion 83.7(a) requires that external observers have identified 
the petitioner as an American Indian entity on a substantially 
continuous basis since 1900. The petitioner does not present new 
material in its response to the PF; it simply revisits the materials 
already in the record. The petitioner argues that these documents 
``prove that the tribe has been identified in a continuous manner'' 
since 1900. GTEC also contends that since Georgia law prevented its 
ancestors from forming an Indian community or political organization 
from 1838 to 1970, it could not have been identified. The petitioner 
believes that this legal limitation should be treated as a ``mitigating 
factor'' in weighing its evidence under the regulations. This argument 
is not persuasive, however, since shortly after Removal, ``on December 
29, 1838, the Georgia legislature granted citizenship to 22 families'' 
of Cherokees in the State. The petitioner's ancestors, the Davises, 
were one of the 22 families named in this law, which allowed them and 
their descendants in Georgia to ``enjoy all the rights and privileges 
that appertain and belong to the free citizens of this State.'' Thus, 
the prior state laws that hindered, disabled, and harassed the Cherokee 
government and people, would not apply to those 22 named families that 
remained in the State. These Cherokees, including the petitioner's 
ancestors, could now enjoy all the rights of other free citizens of 
Georgia and no longer had to suffer ``all disabilities heretofore 
imposed upon said persons of the Cherokee tribe of Indians.'' In 
addition, as free citizens, the State's Black codes applied previously 
to Indians, beginning in the early 1800s, no longer applied to these 
named families. Evidence is insufficient to show that any of those 
remaining 22 families, formed a group, even informally, following the 
Removal of the Nation in 1838, which external sources could have 
identified.
    This FD finds insufficient evidence in the record of substantially 
continuous identifications of GTEC from 1900 to the present. Therefore, 
the petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion Sec.  
83.7(a). Many of the documents submitted relate to portions of the 
historical Cherokee Nation's history leading up to and through the 
Removal era and identify Cherokee individuals on various historical 
lists. There are few original, contemporary documents relating to the 
period after 1900 as required by this criterion. Some such records 
identify individuals as Indian, but few contain contemporary 
identifications of an Indian entity in Lumpkin County, where most of 
the petitioner's ancestors lived, from 1900 to the present. 
Identifications in the record are from 1977 to 1981, and again from 
1996 to 2001, but it is insufficient to satisfy criterion Sec.  
83.7(a), which requires identifications ``on a substantially continuous 
basis since 1900,'' and which has been interpreted as requiring an 
identification every ten-year period. Further, there is a lack of 
available evidence identifying the group even after the date it 
incorporated in 1977. There are many claims of lawsuits and court 
actions, but very little evidence was actually submitted for the 
record. Many of the records that may have been intended to address 
criterion Sec.  83.7(a) appear to be self-identifications generated by 
present members of the petitioner, ``at present'' (and not since 1900 
to the present), or retrospective accounts, or identifications of 
individual Indian descendants, and not of a group. None of these 
identifications are acceptable evidence under this criterion. The 
petitioner does not meet criterion Sec.  83.7(a) based on evidence and 
analysis in the PF and this supplemental analysis addressing the 
evidence in the summary and response. This FD affirms the PF under 
criterion Sec.  83.7(a).
    The PF found that GTEC failed to meet both criteria 83.7(b) and 
(c). Criterion 83.7(b) requires that GTEC has been a distinct community 
from historical times to the present, and criterion 83.7(c) requires 
that it has maintained autonomous political influence since historical 
times within that community. The petitioner's comments on the PF 
contains no new evidence or other analysis--other than its arguments 
concerning the effects of State laws on their social and political 
organization--that, when evaluated with evidence for the PF, would 
change the PF's conclusions on criteria 83.7(b) and (c). GTEC does not 
have the kinds of evidence listed in Sec.  83.7(b), such as significant 
rates of in-group or patterned out-marriage rates, significant rates of 
informal social interaction within a distinct Indian group comprising 
its members, persistent group identity, or exclusive settlements, nor 
did it offer any suitable alternative forms of evidence that it was a 
distinct community. Furthermore, it does not have evidence to satisfy 
criterion 83.7(c), such as the group being politically autonomous and 
able to mobilize significant numbers of members or resources for group 
purposes, or a membership that considers issues acted upon or actions 
taken by leaders of governing bodies to be of particular importance to 
the membership. There is no evidence of leaders or councils allocating 
group resources, settling disputes, making decisions, or influencing 
behavior within an Indian group beyond their families.
    GTEC contends that Georgia law prohibited its ancestors from 
forming an Indian community or political organization from the final 
Removal in 1838 to 1970, which should be treated as a ``mitigating 
factor'' in weighing its evidence under the regulations. The PF 
discusses in detail Georgia's hostility to the Cherokee Nation and the 
post-removal laws that made GTEC's Indian ancestors free and citizens 
of the State on a par with White citizens and removed legal barriers to 
participation in non-Indian society. In sum, as discussed above, these 
laws did not apply to the petitioner's ancestors who became citizens in 
1838, and in any event were repealed in 1970. GTEC lacks evidence that 
its ancestors attempted to socialize or interact with the 21 other 
known Indian families in Georgia. There is no evidence that they formed 
an informal social group, church, historical society or institution 
that would have served as a base for a political organization of some 
kind. Even after 1970, when some GTEC members and others claiming 
Indian descent attempted to establish a formal organization, they were 
initially unable to identify an existing group of

[[Page 61026]]

Cherokee to organize. Because the record lacks evidence that its 
members and ancestors continuously maintained a distinct Indian 
community and autonomous political organization for more than 170 years 
including at present, it cannot meet criteria (b) or (c), even 
considering Sec.  83.6.
    GTEC also claims in its comments that eleven particular spouses of 
the Davises or Howells are also Cherokee descendants through ``families 
with Indian heritage'' other than Davis or Howell, but it submitted no 
documents showing that these individuals descend from other Indians in 
the Cherokee Nation before Removal. No additional Indian ancestry was 
found for any of these spouses. Eight of these spouses descend from the 
Davises or Howells, and no Indian ancestry was found for the remaining 
three spouses, as far as the Department could determine based on the 
evidence in the record. Most of these spouses, including those whom the 
petitioner claimed had other Indian ``blood lines,'' had ancestors who 
resided in the small rural community where the Davis descendants lived 
after 1838. If any of these spouses are living, they are not on GTEC's 
membership list.
    GTEC describes herbal medicine, Indian-style crafts, and 
traditional cooking, but these activities are not based in a distinct 
community and often are not different from non-Indians in Georgia. GTEC 
also claims members maintained a named, collective Indian identity, but 
evidence after 1838, including oral histories and news articles, quote 
GTEC's ancestors and members identifying as Cherokee descendants, not 
as members of an existing Indian entity. GTEC submitted no evidence to 
show its current activities involve most of its members. The petition 
describes the annual picnic as a family reunion, which underscores the 
petitioner as an extended family, not a community. GTEC failed to show 
it has maintained a distinct community comprising its members and their 
Indian ancestors at any time after 1838 and thus does not meet 
criterion (b).
    The PF found that the petitioner did not meet Criterion 83.7(c) 
from 1838 to the present. As described in more detail above in the 
summary of the PF, criterion (c) requires petitioners to be an 
autonomous political entity in which members and leaders have 
continuously maintained a political relationship with each other. The 
Indian descendants from their rural neighborhood did not form an 
autonomous political entity, characterized by meaningful political 
relationships between leaders and followers to make decisions, resolve 
conflicts, manage resources, cooperate on projects, or function 
politically in any way. GTEC's comments did not include new documents 
dating between 1838 and 1925 about the churches, cemeteries, and 
schools in their neighborhood that would show these institutions were 
run by a GTEC entity. They did not submit new evidence that 
demonstrates autonomous political activity within any other institution 
or Cherokee entity.
    The petitioner's comments also do not reverse the PF that found 
there was insufficient evidence that the petitioner's membership 
supports GTEC leaders or informs their actions since 1838, nor after 
1970, when the State statutes the petitioner claims blocked any 
political activity by Indians were repealed. In 1976, the Georgia 
Assembly created a ``Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee,'' but it was an 
entirely new entity that had never before existed, comprising persons 
claiming Cherokee descent--often without evidence proving their 
claims--from throughout Georgia. The legislation did not require 
applicants to be part of an already existing Indian entity. This State-
created group was not the petitioner, although some of its original 
leaders would later form the petitioner, also named GTEC. As discussed 
in the PF, leadership in the original group in the 1970s does not show 
leadership in GTEC. Furthermore, the PF found that since 1980, the 
petitioner's named leaders have quarreled and only focused 
intermittently (including a more than ten-year period of inactivity) on 
gaining Federal acknowledgment and on combating other groups or 
individuals claiming to be the State-recognized entity. The evidence 
available on these activities was insufficient to demonstrate political 
influence or authority within GTEC. The petitioner did not submit new 
evidence that would cure deficiencies detailed in the PF. It did not 
submit evidence that demonstrates the petitioner maintained political 
influence or authority over its members, which meets criterion (c) at 
any time after 1838. This FD affirms the conclusions of the PF that the 
petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(c) for 
political authority.
    Criterion 83.7(d) requires a copy of the group's present governing 
document, including its membership criteria. The petitioner provided 
evidence that satisfied the requirements of criterion 83.7(d) for the 
PF. This FD affirms the conclusions of the PF that the petitioner meets 
the requirements of Criterion 83.7(d).
    Criterion (e) requires that the petitioner's membership consists of 
individuals who descend from a historical Indian Tribe or from 
historical Indian Tribes, which combined and functioned as a single 
autonomous political entity. The PF found that GTEC met this criterion. 
The PF found that about 90 percent (413 of 458) of those persons listed 
on its current membership list, dated August 10, 2013, descend from the 
historical Indian Tribe, the Cherokee Nation as it existed before the 
Cherokee Removal. These members descend through Rachel Martin, a 
citizen of the historical Cherokee Nation before 1838, and her non-
Indian husband Daniel Davis, and a small percentage descend as well or 
solely from Pinkney Howell, a Cherokee descendant who resided in 
Lumpkin County after the Removal. However, the petitioner's response 
did not supplement the record with evidence for the 10 percent of the 
current members who did not provide the necessary evidence to 
demonstrate their own lines of descent as the PF suggested, so the PF 
calculation that 90 percent (413 of 458) of those persons listed on its 
membership list, dated August 10, 2013, descend from the historical 
Cherokee Nation as it existed before the final Removal in 1838 remains 
unchanged.
    The petitioner submitted as part of its response a list of eleven 
names of spouses of current members or of ancestors. None of these 
spouses alive in 2013 when the membership list was certified by the 
governing body appear on it. The petitioner claims that these spouses 
had possible alternate Cherokee ancestry not connected to the Davises 
or Howells, but the petitioner did not provide evidence demonstrating 
generation-by-generation descent to the Cherokee Nation before 1838. 
The OFA was unable to locate evidence from publically available records 
to demonstrate under the reasonable likelihood standard that it is more 
likely than not that there are any new lines of Cherokee descent in the 
membership based on the ancestry of these eleven individuals. This FD 
affirms the conclusions of the PF that the petitioner meets the 
requirements of criterion 83.7(e).
    Criterion (f) requires that the membership of the petitioner be 
composed principally of persons who are not members of any federally 
acknowledged Indian Tribe. The PF found that 13 GTEC members were 
enrolled in the Cherokee Nation, a federally recognized Tribe in 
Oklahoma, and no members were enrolled in the Eastern Band of Cherokee 
Indians, a federally recognized Indian Tribe in North Carolina. Ninety-
seven percent (445 of 458) of the GTEC members are

[[Page 61027]]

not members of any federally acknowledged Indian Tribe. Because the 
GTEC petitioner is composed principally of persons who are not members 
of other federally-recognized Indian Tribes, it therefore meets this 
criterion.
    Criterion (g) requires that neither the petitioner nor its members 
are the subject of congressional legislation that has expressly 
terminated or forbidden the Federal relationship. The PF stated that 
the petitioner met criterion (g), and neither the petitioner nor other 
party submitted new evidence to change that conclusion. Therefore, the 
petitioner meets the requirements of criterion 83.7(g).
    This Federal Register notice under 25 CFR part 83 is the FD to deny 
Federal acknowledgment to the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee 
petitioner. The petitioner does not satisfy all seven of the mandatory 
criteria in Sec.  83.7, and therefore, the AS-IA declines to 
acknowledge that the petitioner is an Indian Tribe under Sec.  
83.10(m). As provided in Sec.  83.10(h) of the regulations, this FD 
summarizes the evidence, reasoning, and analyses that form the bases 
for this decision. In addition to its publication in the Federal 
Register, this notice will be posted on the Department's Indian Affairs 
website at www.bia.gov.
    This FD on GTEC will become a final and effective agency action 90 
days after the publication of this notice in the Federal Register, 
unless the petitioner or interested party files a request for 
reconsideration under the procedures in Sec.  83.11, with the Interior 
Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA). The IBIA must receive this request no 
later than 90 days of the publication of this Federal Register notice. 
The final determination will become effective as provided in the 
regulations 90 days from the Federal Register publication unless a 
request for reconsideration is filed within that time period.

    Dated: December 14, 2017.
John Tahsuda,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs, Exercising the 
Authority of the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2017-27764 Filed 12-22-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4337-15-P