Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for



Final Determination against Federal Acknowledgment



of the



Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc.















Prepared in response to a petition submitted to the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs for Federal acknowledgment that this group exists as an Indian tribe.







Approved:___________________________

(date)





____________________________________

Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs

TABLE OF CONTENTS



INTRODUCTION

Administrative History

Bases for the Final Determination

Intent of the Federal acknowledgment regulations

Overview of the Proposed Finding

The impact of the 1994 revised Federal

acknowledgment regulations on the

RMI Final Determination

Responses to the Proposed Finding

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms

SUMMARY CONCLUSIONS UNDER THE CRITERIA

(25 CFR 83.7(a-g))

Criterion 83.7(a)

Proposed Finding

Impact of the 1994 revised Federal

acknowledgment regulations

Comment

Summary of the Evidence under

Criterion 83.7(a)

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(a)

Criterion 83.7(b)

Proposed Finding

Impact of the 1994 revised Federal acknowledgment regulations

Comment

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(b)

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(b)

Criterion 83.7(c)

Proposed Finding

Impact of the 1994 revised Federal acknowledgment regulations

Comment

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(c)

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(c)

Criterion 83.7(d)

Proposed Finding

Comment

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(d)

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(d)

Criterion 83.7(e)

Proposed Finding

Comment

Summary of the Evidence under

Criterion 83.7(e)

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(e)

Criterion 83.7(f)

Criterion 83.7(g)

TECHNICAL REPORT SUPPORTING FINAL DETERMINATION AGAINST FEDERAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE RAMAPOUGH MOUNTAIN INDIANS, INC.

INTRODUCTION



Administrative History. The Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc. (RMI) submitted an undocumented letter of intent to petition for Federal acknowledgement on August 14, 1978, thereby becoming administrative case #58. The group submitted a documented petition on April 23, 1990. A letter outlining the obvious deficiencies in the petition was sent by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on June 15, 1990. The RMI submitted a partial response on January 28, 1991. A fully revised petition was determined to be ready for active consideration on March 5, 1992. The petition was placed on active consideration status on July 14, 1992.

A Proposed Finding against Federal acknowledgment of the RMI was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on December 8, 1993. The Proposed Finding stated that the RMI failed to meet mandatory criteria 83.7 (a), 83.7(b), 83.7(c), and 83.7(e). Most of the concerns under these four criteria had been raised in the 1990 "Obvious Deficiencies Review Letter" and subsequent technical assistance meetings between the BIA and the RMI. The technical reports that accompanied the Proposed Finding suggested possible additional sources for research.

The original 120-day comment period provided by the regulations ended on April 6, 1994. By letter dated February 23, 1994, the RMI requested a 180-day extension of the comment period. This request was granted and the ending date for comments became October 7, 1994. In the February 23, 1994, letter, the RMI posed the question of "how much" proof was needed to change the Proposed Finding. The petitioner was advised in a letter dated March 24, 1994, that it was not simply a question of how much and what type of evidence was necessary, but that they must also respond to the evidence reviewed for the Proposed Finding and how it was evaluated.

The petitioner was told that in order to reverse the Proposed Finding, they would need to accomplish two tasks. First, the RMI would need to refute the evidence and arguments contained in the Proposed Finding. Second, the RMI would need to present additional evidence that demonstrated that the petitioner did meet the four criteria. Specifically the petitioner was told that, first and foremost, the RMI would need to present new evidence which demonstrated that the members, as a group, were the descendants of a historical American Indian tribe, genealogically, socially, and politically.

The BIA again offered that staff from the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (BAR) would meet with the petitioner's researchers to discuss the evidence needed to respond to the Proposed Finding. In March 1994, the BAR was contacted by a private consultant claiming to represent the RMI who wanted information regarding their petition. He also wanted to know what it would take to "walk the papers through the process." The BAR met with the consultant, described the petitioning process, and gave him the same information previously provided to the RMI regarding the type of research that was necessary to respond to the Proposed Finding. The BAR viewed this as an informational exchange with a prospective researcher for the RMI. However, the BAR did not receive confirmation from the RMI that the consultant indeed represented them or that he was conducting research on their behalf. The consultant did not maintain contact with the BIA regarding the RMI, nor did he contribute any evidence or comments during the comment period.

On April 22, 1994, the RMI requested that the petition be reviewed under the revised 25 CFR 83 regulations (published in the Federal Register on February 24, 1994, with an effective date of March 28, 1994). The BIA notified the RMI on May 10, 1994, that the petition would be considered under the revised regulations.

Mr. Ronald Jarvis, one of the RMI's newly authorized legal representatives, met with several BIA staff members on September 13, 1994. Mr. Jarvis indicated that they were pioneering new ways of looking at the evidence, researching in Holland, investigating the records of French explorers, and researching other historical records. The BIA research staff emphasized the importance of concentrating not on the early colonial period, but rather on the 1750 to 1820 time period and providing evidence that the proven ancestors of the RMI descended from a historical tribe of Indians. Church records and deeds were again specifically identified as likely sources for additional research. The BIA encouraged Mr. Jarvis to have the RMI researchers meet directly with the Government's researchers so that they would not pursue research areas that were not productive in meeting the criteria.

At the same meeting, Mr. Jarvis presented a letter from the RMI which requested that the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs (AS-IA) extend the comment period an additional six months. The letter also stated:

In addition, there is a substantial body of new and probative evidence that we intend to bring to bear in the Tribe's response to the Proposed Findings, and there are new approaches to the research which we are presently exploring.

Acting on good faith that the RMI would be pursuing viable avenues of research, the request for an additional 180-day extension was granted on September 27, 1994, pursuant to the terms of the new regulations in 25 C.F.R. §§ 83.3(g) and 83.10(g). At the same time, the BIA again offered technical assistance. However, neither the RMI nor its researchers contacted the BIA to set up a meeting between the RMI researchers and BIA researchers.

In late November 1994, the RMI indicated that the petitioner was interested in holding a formal meeting to discuss the Proposed Finding as provided by 25 C.F.R. §§ 83.10(j)(2). The regulations state:

[T]he Assistant Secretary shall, if requested by the petitioner or any interested party, hold a formal meeting for the purpose of inquiring into the reasoning, analyses, and factual bases for the proposed finding. The proceedings of this meeting shall be on the record. The meeting record shall be made available to any participating party and become part of the record considered by the Assistant Secretary in reaching a Final Determination.

However, after a preliminary meeting on December 6, 1994, and in subsequent discussions, the RMI chose to meet with the BIA's researchers in less formal settings. At this December meeting, the RMI again inquired as to avenues of research and the BAR staff reiterated the areas and time periods where records should be searched.

On January 12, 1995, RMI leaders and legal representatives met with the BAR to discuss the criteria which had not been met. At this meeting, the BAR emphasized that research was often long and tedious and the closing date for comments was on April 7, 1995. On February 6, 1995, the BAR sent the RMI a letter summarizing the January meeting and again specifically listing the critical time period (1750-1820) and possible resources.

The RMI requested an additional 120-day "suspension of consideration" of the petition or an extension of the comment period on March 14, 1995, citing "good cause" for the extension. The BIA did not find good cause for a four-month extension, but did extend the comment period for an additional 30 days, until May 8, 1995 (BIA letter, March 30, 1995).

The RMI submitted the Response to the Proposed Finding (hereafter cited as "the RMI Response") on May 8, 1995. This initiated a 60-day time period established in the regulations to allow petitioners to review and respond to third party comments on the Proposed Finding. On July 10, 1995, the RMI submitted a reply to the comments. The AS-IA then determined an equitable time-frame for the publication of the Final Determination.

The BIA began consideration of the Response on September 18, 1995. Under the regulations, the BIA had 60 days to complete the Final Determination. Because of delays in regulatory deadlines resulting from the Federal Government furlough in November, 1995, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs (AS-IA) extended the deadline until December 11, 1995.

Bases for the Final Determination. This Final Determination is based on a consideration of new evidence and arguments submitted by the RMI in the Response to the Proposed Finding, comments submitted by third parties (including both interested and informed parties), the RMI Response to the third-party comments, and materials developed by the BAR in evaluating the RMI Response and the comments of third parties. According to the regulations: "The Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs may also conduct such additional research as is necessary to evaluate and supplement the record. In either case, the additional materials will become part of the petition record (25 CFR Part 83.10(l)(1))."

The evidence and arguments presented by the RMI for the Proposed Finding were also considered in making this Final Determination, in addition to evidence generated by BIA staff or contractors in conducting their own research in preparing the Proposed Finding. This Final Determination report should be read together with the Proposed Finding and the three technical reports that accompanied it. The actual Proposed Finding is the Summary Under the Criteria, which contained the decision issued by the AS-IA. The technical reports represented a narration and analysis of the factual evidence pertaining to the petition. The Summary Under the Criteria contains the decisional material.

The 25 CFR Part 83 regulations are well founded, based on Federal Indian law and the history of tribal acknowledgment in this country. The allegations of racism made by RMI against the BAR staff have been addressed in a separate inquiry by the Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs (BIA letter, September 20, 1995) and will not be responded to in this Final Determination. Because the issue of outside political interference has been raised by the petitioner in numerous instances, as well as by some informed parties, that issue is addressed in the technical report to the Final Determination.

Intent of the Federal acknowledgment regulations. The Federal Government has an obligation to protect and preserve the inherent sovereign rights of all Indian tribes, whether a tribe has been recognized in the past or not. The regulations governing the acknowledgment process (25 CFR Part 83) state the requirements that unrecognized groups must meet to be acknowledged as having a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

The purpose of the acknowledgment process is to acknowledge that a government-to-government relationship exists between the United States and tribes which have existed since first contact with non-Indians (25 CFR Part 83, "Standards of Evidence and Stringency of Requirements," Federal Register59:9281).

The acknowledgment regulations require that all seven criteria under section 83.7 must be met in order for a petitioner to be acknowledged. Section 83.10(m) states:

The Assistant Secretary shall acknowledge the existence of a petitioner as an Indian tribe when it is determined that the group satisfies all of the criteria in section 83.7. The Assistant Secretary shall decline to acknowledge that a petitioner is an Indian tribe if it fails to satisfy any one of the criteria in section 83.7 (25 CFR 83.10(m)) [emphases added].

In 1994, revised Federal acknowledgment regulations were published in the Federal Register(Volume 59, No. 38, February 25, 1994, 9280-9300), after a lengthy period of dialogue with the unrecognized Indian groups, recognized Indian tribes, scholars, and other interested parties. The revision of the regulations in 1994 did not alter the basic purpose of the acknowledgment procedure.

The revised acknowledgment regulations provided petitioners whose petitions were already under active consideration the option to choose to continue having the petition evaluated under the 1978 regulations (Federal Register 43(172), 39361-39364) or to change to the revised 1994 regulations. The RMI exercised their option to have their petition evaluated under the revised regulations. As will be seen from the following discussion, this option has not changed the outcome of this Final Determination. That is, the Final Determination would have been the same if the RMI had chosen to have their petition evaluated under the 1978 regulations (43 F.R. 172).

The legal and policy precedents for acknowledgment are codified in the regulations. These precedents also provide the fundamental bases for interpreting the regulations. The acknowledgment criteria are based on and consistent with past determinations of tribal existence by Congress, the courts, and the Executive Branch. These past determinations have required that to be acknowledged as having tribal status a group must have maintained its social solidarity and distinctness and exercised political influence or authority throughout history until the present.

The criteria used by the Interior Department between 1934 and 1978 to recognize tribes are summarized in the 1942 Handbook of Federal Indian Law by Felix Cohen, and are commonly referred to as the "Cohen criteria." These summarized Executive Branch practice as well as judicial and legislative precedents. One of these criteria required that a group have "exercised political authority over its members through a tribal council or other governmental forms" (Cohen 1942, 171). A supplementary consideration was the "social solidarity of the group." The Cohen criteria also considered previous Federal recognition, e.g., treaty relations, executive orders, Congressional acts, or other actions.

Fundamental to the definition of a tribe is the nature of tribal membership. The Department has long said that an Indian tribe is an entity whose members maintain a bilateral political relationship with the tribe. The courts have supported this interpretation, most recently in a March 13, 1992, decision, Masayesva v. Zah v. James (CIV 74-842 PHX EHC, CIV 90-666 PCT EHC, consolidated, D. Ariz.).

The preamble to the acknowledgment regulations, published in 1978, indicated the intent by stating that "groups of descendants will not be acknowledged solely on a racial basis. Maintenance of tribal relations--a political relationship--is essential" (43 F.R. 172, Bureau of Indian Affairs 1978).

The review of petitions for acknowledgment must balance the fundamental requirements of the regulations with the effect of historical influences on, and changes in, past and present Indian society. Unrecognized tribes often face limitations which differ from those of recognized tribes, such as lack of resources, difficulty in maintaining a separate land base, and absence of Federal support for political institutions. Although these historical and social conditions may have made it difficult for some unrecognized groups to meet the requirements of criteria 83.7(b) and 83.7(c), the regulations require that petitioners maintain a significant level of community and political influence or authority in order to be federally acknowledged as entitled to a government-to-government relationship.

Overview of the Proposed Finding. The Proposed Finding concluded that the Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc. met criteria 83.7(d), 83.7(f), and 83.7(g). The Proposed Finding concluded that the RMI failed to meet mandatory criteria 83.7 (a), 83.7(b), 83.7(c), and 83.7(e).

The impact of the 1994 revised acknowledgment regulations on the RMI final determination. Because of changes in the revised regulations, the conclusions for this Final Determination are slightly different from those reached in the Proposed Finding under criteria 83.7(a), identification by external observers; 83.7(b), social community; and 83.7(c), political authority. At the time of the Proposed Finding, the AS-IA found that the RMI did not meet any of these criteria. It is now found that, under the revised regulations, the petitioner meets criterion 83.7(a).

Under the provisions of the revised regulations, the petitioner has been found to meet criteria 83.7(b) and 83.7(c) only for a limited period of time, from 1870 to about 1950. The modifications under the revised regulations do not change the ultimate finding concerning criteria 83.7(b) and 83.7(c), however, since the requirement of continuous existence as a social community and political entity, from the time of first sustained contact of the antecedent historical tribe or tribes with non-Indians to the present, remains in force. Therefore, meeting a criterion for a limited period is not sufficient to meet the criterion overall, because of the requirement of continuous existence.

Even if the revised regulations had been in force at the time the Proposed Finding on the RMI was issued (1993), the conclusions regarding criteria 83.7(b), 83.7(c), and 83.7(e) would not have been different. In fact, if the revised regulations had been in force at the time the RMI petition was submitted, it would have received an expedited negative finding under criterion 83.7(e), without reference to the other criteria. Under the 1994 revised regulations, the RMI still do not meet three of the seven mandatory criteria: 83.7(b), 83.7(c), and 83.7(e).

Responses to the Proposed Finding. The only extensive response received to the Proposed Finding was from the Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc. This RMI Response included numerous exhibits, including many third-party letters. These are analyzed in the technical report supporting the Final Determination. Brief letters in response were received from the Office of the Attorney General, State of New Jersey; some local government agencies, and informed parties. These are also analyzed in the technical report supporting the Final Determination.

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS



25 CFR Part 83 = The part of the Code of Federal Regulations dealing with the Federal acknowledgment of Indian groups as Indian tribes. Revised regulations were published in the Federal Register on February 25, 1994.

A.M.E. = African Methodist Episcopal

AS-IA = Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior.

BAR = Branch of Acknowledgment and Research, Bureau of Indian Affairs (Evaluator of the Petition)

BIA = Bureau of Indian Affairs

Ex. = Documentary exhibit submitted by the petitioner

FD = Field data (research conducted by the BAR staff for the purpose of verifying and adding to the information submitted in the petition)

F.R. = Federal Register

"Jackson Whites" = An imprecise, racist term for poor residents of the Ramapo Mountains in use from the late 1800's to the present. The origin of the term is unknown, but its first known use in print was in the 1870's. By the time of the Vineland Study (1917) "Jackson White" was used by outsiders to refer to people in several distinct social communities in the Ramapo Mountains, some perceived as predominantly White and Indian, some perceived as predominantly African American and Indian, and some perceived as poor White. The term was used to refer to individuals in the Ramapough Mountain People (RMP) community (see definition of RMP, below), among others.

Joslyn Report = Report by Roger D. Joslyn, genealogist for the

RMI, which was included in the RMI Response.

Petition = Petition submitted in 1993 by the RMI for acknowledgment as an Indian tribe.

Proposed Finding = The Proposed Finding of the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, which declined to acknowledge the existence of the RMI as an Indian tribe; published December 8, 1993. This included: a Summary Under the Criteria (an evaluation of the evidence as pertains to each of the seven mandatory criteria for Federal acknowledgment, found in 25 CFR §83.7); Summary of the Evidence; and three supporting technical reports (historical, anthropological, and genealogical).

RMI = Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc., a 1978 incorporation with a membership of about 3,000 people; in this report, also known as "the petitioner." The RMI membership list includes some, but not all, of the Ramapo Mountain People (see below). When referring to events before 1978, the members of the RMI will be referred to as RMP, since there is no known Ramapough Mountain Indian tribe prior to that year.

RMI Response = Response of the RMI to the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs' Proposed Finding; received by the BIA May 8, 1995.

RMI Response Appendix = Appendix of unnumbered items included with the May 8, 1995, RMI Response.

RMI Response Ex. = Numbered exhibits included with the RMI Response to third party comments; received by the BIA on July 10, 1995.

RMP = Ramapo Mountain People: a term used in this report as a designation for the people of the Van Dunk, Mann, DeGroat, and DeFreese families living in and around (or originating from) the towns of Mahwah, New Jersey, Ringwood, New Jersey, and Hillburn, New York. Not all of the RMP are members of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc., even though they share a common ancestry. Also, not all of the RMP claim to be Indian. As used in this final determination, RMP is not synonymous with "Jackson Whites," the latter being much broader in meaning, and less well-defined (see definition of "Jackson Whites," above).

SUMMARY CONCLUSIONS UNDER THE CRITERIA (25 CFR 83.7(a-g))



Criterion 83.7(a)

83.7(a) The petitioner has been identified as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900. Evidence that the group's character as an Indian entity has from time to time been denied shall not be considered to be conclusive evidence that this criterion has not been met.

Evidence to be relied upon in determining a group's Indian identity may include one or a combination of the following, as well as other evidence of identification by other than the petitioner itself or its members.

(1) Identification as an Indian entity by Federal authorities.

(2) Relationships with State governments based on

identification of the group as

Indian.

(3) Dealings with a county, parish, or other local government in a relationship based on the group's Indian identity.

(4) Identification as an Indian entity by anthropologists, historians, and/or other scholars.

(5) Identification as an Indian entity in newspapers and books.

(6) Identification as an Indian entity in relationships with Indian tribes or with national regional or state Indian organizations.



Proposed Finding. The proposed finding on the RMI was prepared under the provisions of the 1978 25 CFR Part 83 regulations (43 F.R. 172). The proposed finding concluded that the petitioner did not meet criterion 83.7(a) before 1978, and therefore did not meet criterion 83.7(a).

Impact of the 1994 revised Federal acknowledgment regulations. The final determination has been prepared under the 25 CFR Part 83 regulations as revised in 1994. Part of the purpose of the revision was to reduce the burden of proof imposed upon petitioners. In that process, criterion 83.7(a) was modified in such a way that external identification of the group as an Indian entity was no longer required from earliest historical times to the present, but only from 1900 to the present. As a result, petitioners no longer need to address the issue of continuity of tribal existence from first sustained contact with non-Indian settlers under criterion 83.7(a), but only under criteria 83.7(b) for distinct community and 83.7(c) for political authority or influence over the membership.

This modification leaves criterion 83.7(a) standing alone, without pre-1900 historical identifications as a foundation. Essentially, all that it now requires is that the petitioner demonstrate that external observers identified the petitioning group as an "Indian entity" on a "substantially continuous basis" from 1900 to the present. Even in this context, however, it should be noted that each individual criterion incorporates the definitions contained in section 83.1. Also, the final determination references both the technical report to the final determination and the set of three technical reports prepared for the proposed finding.

Criterion 83.7(a) does not require that the petitioner was consistently identified as an Indian entity by all of the six types of possible evidence listed since 1900. Identification by any one type of the possible evidence throughout the time period since 1900, or by a combination of the different types of evidence at various points during the time period since 1900, is adequate for the petitioner to meet criterion 83.7(a).

Additionally, criterion 83.7(a) does not require that the identification as an Indian entity was factually accurate on the part of the observer, or that the observer was a specialist in anthropology or ethnography. There is no requirement that the observer's assertions be documented or verified by historical evidence. Another section of the regulations, section 83.8(d)(3), does require "substantially continuous historical identification, by authoritative, knowledgeable [emphasis added] external sources," to show the succession of leaders for those petitioners claiming to have had prior unambiguous Federal acknowledgment. Criterion 83.7(a), however, omits any such provision. Criterion 83.7(a) is designed to elicit a sense of the opinion about the group which was being expressed by external observers. The observers did not need to be knowledgeable. Evaluation of factual accuracy is now conducted under criteria 83.7(b), 83.7(c), and 83.7(e).

Nonetheless, criteria 83.7(a) through 83.7(g) are not totally discrete from one another. Section 83.3 Scope specifically states that:

This part . . . is intended to apply to groups that can establish a substantially continuous tribal existence and which have functioned as autonomous entities throughout history until the present (59 F.R. 38, 9294).

The General provisions for the documented petition, section 83.6(d), also state that:

A petitioner may be denied acknowledgment if the evidence available demonstrates that it does not meet one or more criteria. A petitioner may also be denied if there is insufficient evidence that it meets one or more of the criteria. A criterion shall be considered met if the available evidence establishes a reasonable likelihood of the validity of the facts relating to that criterion. Conclusive proof of the facts relating to a criterion shall not be required in order for the criterion to be considered met (59 F.R. 38, 9295).

Under criteria 83.7(a), 83.7(b), and 83.7(e), the BIA must consider the validity of the content of the statements in the evidence and the knowledgeability and reliability of the source. Otherwise it is impossible to determine if the criterion is met. By contrast, in the context of criterion 83.7(a), the "facts" are not the objective truth of what an observer said about the group, but simply the opinion expressed by the observer. Therefore, the "facts" to be analyzed under criterion 83.7(a) are the precise content, taken in context, of what the observer said--not whether the observer was correct. Does the opinion being expressed amount to identification of the petitioner's antecedent group as an Indian entity?

The regulations under 25 CFR Part 83 do not exist to acknowledge as Indian tribes all groups in the United States which do or may have some American Indian ancestry. They are designed to extend Federal acknowledgment as Indian tribes to those indigenous North American Indian groups which can demonstrate continuous existence as communities which have possessed political authority or influence over their members since first sustained contact with non-Indian settlers.

Criterion 83.7(a) does not address race or ancestry per se. Neither does it allow the introduction of a different type of racism. On the one hand, we state once more that the presence of non-Indian ancestry in a petitioning group does not negate its Indian identity if it has a specific Indian identity. On the other hand, the "one-drop-rule" does not work in reverse. The mere presence of some Indian ancestry in a group of people, or attribution of partial Indian ancestry to a group of people by outside observers, does not automatically make that group eligible for Federal acknowledgment as an Indian tribe under 25 CFR Part 83. Neither does it mean that the group will be found to meet criterion 83.7(a).

Comment. The RMI Response maintained that the handling of the evidence for criterion 83.7(a) in the Proposed Finding was "Arbitrary and Capricious." The BIA denies this allegation.

The RMI Response discussed the issue of Indian ancestry extensively under criterion 83.7(a). Criterion 83.7(a) does not pertain to the issue of generic Indian or specific tribal ancestry. The final determination discusses that issue under criterion 83.7(e), as appropriate. The placement of the discussion in the petitioner's response may, however, indicate confusion about the nature of the Federal acknowledgment regulations.

The basic questions raised by the RMI Response under criterion 83.7(a) are whether (1) in the absence of traditional identifying source materials (see the discussion of the evidence, below), the definition of a petitioning group as a distinct tri-racial isolate with an Indian component by observing anthropologists, historians (both academic and local), scholars, and journalists is to be deemed by the AS-IA as equivalent to the identification of the group as an Indian entity by such observers, or (2) whether identification as a distinct entity with some kind of Indian component, in the absence of other types of stronger corroborative evidence, offers only "insufficient evidence" that the petitioner meets criterion 83.7(a).

We take note that several of the third-party comments received by the BIA from contemporary anthropologists indicated that the writers considered that the first of the above questions should be answered in the affirmative in the context of modern academic anthropological theory. These comments, like the RMI Response, intermingled discussion of the interpretation of the significance of part-Indian ancestry in a petitioning group with discussion of the issue of external identification of a group as an Indian entity. None of these third-party comments received by the BIA addressed the question from the perspective of Federal Indian law and the legal precedents defining the nature of American Indian tribes and groups.

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(a). The evidence under criterion 83.7(a) is summarized in order of the types of evidence acceptable to the Secretary listed in the 25 CFR Part 83 regulations.

Criterion 83.7(a)(1). The petitioner's response to the proposed finding presented no additional evidence to indicate identification of the RMI as an Indian entity by Federal authorities. The petitioner claimed that the inclusion of a one-page description of the RMI predecessor community in a book about surviving Indian groups on the East Coast published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1948 amounted to identification as an Indian entity by Federal authorities for purposes of criterion 83.7(a). That entry and an evaluation of why it did not equal identification by Federal authorities are discussed in the technical report to the final determination. The actual passage has been determined by the BIA to fall under the category of identification by "anthropologists, historians, and/or other scholars." We conclude that there were no Federal records which identified the RMI as an Indian entity within the meaning of the 25 CFR Part 83 regulations prior to 1978.

Criterion 83.7(a)(2). The proposed finding found that:

At no time prior to the RMI's incorporation in 1978 was the group of people who were precursors to and ancestors of the RMI the subject of any separate series of Indian documents in the records of either the States of New York and New Jersey or the Federal Government.

This remains the case. One aspect of the petitioner's evidence has become weaker since the proposed finding was issued. The proposed finding stated that:

The RMI were recognized as American Indian by resolutions of the New Jersey and New York State legislatures in 1980. Since that time, the RMI have been repeatedly identified as an "Indian" group in newspaper accounts and have received Indian Education funding from the Federal government (RMI PF, Summary Under the Criteria 5).

In November 1995, the BIA received conflicting information from the State of New Jersey as to whether or not the 1980 resolution to recognize the RMI had been withdrawn by its sponsors and never voted upon by the New Jersey legislature, or had been passed by both houses of the New Jersey legislature. A newspaper article dated January 17, 1980, tended to confirm that the resolution had received passage. Because of the conflicting nature of the information, the denial was not weighed as evidence against the conclusion expressed in the Proposed Finding that the RMI had received New Jersey state recognition in 1980.

Claims by the petitioner that the fact that the Vineland Study was written by employees of the New Jersey Training School, and that later mention of this study by a New Jersey state employee in a magazine article published in 1931, amounted to state identification of the RMI predecessor community as an Indian entity was found not to be valid. Neither of these was an official study sponsored by the State of New Jersey. They are discussed in the technical report under the category of "identification as an Indian entity by anthropologists, historians, and/or other scholars." The evidence reveals that neither the State of New Jersey nor the State of New York identified the RMI as an Indian entity prior to 1980.

Criterion 83.7(a)(3). Evidence relating to churches and missionary organizations is considered under 83.7(a)(3) along with "dealings with a county, parish, or other local government in a relationship based on the group's Indian identity." The proposed finding concluded that:

During the later 19th and first half of the 20th century, neither the churches nor the schools utilized by the petitioner were identified as "Indian."

The petitioner's response asserted that other BIA acknowledgment determinations had given great weight to church records, but the RMI proposed finding had not adequately considered a letter written in 1926 by a minister who had served the RMI predecessor community from 1876 to 1880. The petitioner presented in evidence a 1926 letter written by the Rev. George A. Ford, in which he described the church members as "colored," with "considerable Indian blood coming down from early days."

BIA researchers undertook additional research on the petitioner's church history to evaluate this level of evidence in preparing the final determination. The context of this specific letter and its relationship to the 19th century records of the church where this man had served as a minister are discussed in the technical report. The letter does demonstrate an opinion about the nature of the petitioning group expressed in 1926. However, the actual church records, which were available through 1918, did not identify the church as Indian, or its members as Indian.

Criteria 83.7(a)(4) and 83.7(a)(5). Aside from the material cited above, essentially all of the material presented by the petitioner relating to identification of the group as an Indian entity by external sources fell into these two categories. Since most of the identifications of the petitioning group made by anthropologists, historians, and/or other scholars were made in newspapers and books, discussion of paragraphs 83.7(a)(4) and 83.7(a)(5) is combined here.

The Proposed Finding on the RMI concluded that:

Since the third quarter of the 19th century, anthropologists, social workers, journalists, and others have consistently described the RMI precursor community as a distinct group of mixed race, or as an entity whose members were said by tradition to have some Indian ancestry. The petitioner's ancestors were never described as an American Indian group per se. Occasional references which used such terms as "tribe" or "clan" to describe the community were essentially using these words as synonyms for "a kinship-based, non-white community distinct from the surrounding society" (Proposed Finding 1993, Summary under the Criteria 4).

Since the first newspaper article discussing the petitioner's ancestors was published in 1872, the composition and origins of the RMI precursor community have been extensively discussed by local historians, by journalists, and occasionally by anthropologists, archaeologists, and folklorists. In addition to acknowledging European and African components among the RMI ancestors, such writers have variously attributed the possibilities of Minsi and Hackensack (Delaware), general Algonquin or Munsee, Tuscarora (Iroquoian), and occasionally Creek and Seneca ancestry to the group. These reports attributed a certain amount of Indian ancestry to the RMI based primarily upon the physical appearance of some members of the group and stereotyped character traits (Proposed Finding 1993, Summary under the Criteria 5).

The technical reports to the proposed finding analyzed in detail all of the external identifications presented by the petitioner and reached the above-quoted conclusions as to the nature of these identifications. The petitioner's response to the proposed finding did not present any new or additional evidence pertaining to external identifications of the petitioner since 1900.

However, the petitioner's response to the proposed finding asserted that the BIA had acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in not equating the above type of descriptions of the RMP with conclusive identification as an "Indian entity" within the meaning of criterion 83.7(a).

The technical report to the final determination, therefore, returned to the issue, and analyzed more extensively, with augmented direct quotations, those portions of the material relating to the RMP published from 1900 through 1978 which, according to the petitioner's Response, amounted to conclusive identification as an Indian entity. Material in this category published since 1978 was not re-analyzed for the final determination, since the proposed finding had already concluded that the petitioner met criterion 83.7(a) since 1978.

The re-analysis has concluded that no matter what the context of the specific work under consideration (i.e., whether the book was titled as a survey of surviving Indian groups on the East Coast or titled as a survey of the Negro family in America), the sources presented as evidence by the petitioner and analyzed in the proposed finding did consistently identify the RMP as a mixed tri-racial isolate group to which tradition attributed a certain amount of American Indian ancestry.

There was no indication that any of these sources published between 1900 and 1978 were written by authors whose intent was to deny the RMP's "Indian" component on the basis of a "one-drop-rule" theory that any African ancestry made a community black. On the contrary, although they did not identify the RMP as an Indian entity per se, these authors consistently distinguished the RMP from contemporary (1970-1978) American Negro society. The RMP were described not as a white community, or as a black community, or as a Native American community, but as an "other"--a unique and distinct community, with its uniqueness and distinctiveness specifically resulting from the perceived long-standing amalgamation of three races.

The implications of this consistent definition of the RMP as uniquely and distinctively "other" for criterion 83.7(a) are discussed more fully below.

Criterion 83.7(a)(5). See combined discussion under 83.7 (a)(4).

Criterion 83.7(a)(6). The RMI Proposed Finding also found that:

No evidence was presented by the petitioner to indicate that the Munsee as a whole, individual Munsee-speaking tribes, or other Delawarean groups which moved west, maintained any type of contact with ancestors of the RMI in the later 18th, 19th, or first half of the 20th centuries (Proposed Finding 1993, Summary under the Criteria 2).

While the part of this conclusion relating to the 18th and 19th centuries is no longer relevant under criterion 83.7(a), it remains the case that in its response to the proposed finding, the petitioner presented no new evidence to indicate that the Munsee as a whole, individual Munsee-speaking tribes, or other Delawarean groups which moved west maintained any type of contact with ancestors of the RMI in the first half of the 20th century, the period from 1900 to 1950.

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(a). In the case of the RMI, taking all the ambiguities into consideration, there are several caveats that must be stated prior to making a determination on criterion 83.7(a).

Caveats. First, criterion 83.7(a) does not require that external identifications of the petitioning group have been factually correct in order to evaluate their relevance. Accepting the relevance of a given document for criterion 83.7(a) does not mean that the contents of that document were accurate.

Second, the BIA does not accept at face value the statements made since 1900 by anthropologists, historians, other scholars, and journalists about the petitioner's alleged connection with any known historical American Indian tribe. The factual basis of these statements are considered and analyzed under criteria 83.7(b) and 83.7(c), where demonstration of continuous tribal existence since first sustained contact with non-Indian settlers until the present are still required.

Third, the BIA does not accept at face value the statements made since 1900 by anthropologists, historians, other scholars, and journalists about the alleged Indian ancestry of the RMP. The factual basis of these are considered and analyzed under criterion 83.7(e).

Fourth, the BIA requires that note be taken that the reduced burden of proof in the revised regulations has had the effect of separating out from evaluation under criterion 83.7(a) the analysis that was done in the proposed finding of how the attribution of partial Indian identity and ancestry to this petitioner developed in the literature between 1872 and 1900.

Conclusion. The nature and character of the evidence regarding criterion 83.7(a) have not changed from the proposed finding to the final determination. The BIA specifically denies that the treatment of this evidence in the proposed finding was arbitrary and capricious. The RMP, the group which included ancestors of the RMI, was described from 1900 until 1978 as an isolated community of mixed-race origins, or a tri-racial isolate, one of whose components was perceived to be Indian in origin.

The present petitioner has not presented as evidence under criterion 83.7(a) such traditional identifying source materials for Indian groups as the records of a former reservation, detribalization records, or recording on the special Indian population schedules of the Federal census in 1900 and 1910. Such sources have been used by various petitioners who have received positive decisions in the matter of Federal acknowledgment.

Within these limitations, the AS-IA has determined that identification by anthropologists, historians, and other scholars of the existence of a distinct tri-racial entity which is generally believed to have included an Indian component in its originating population shall be regarded as minimal evidence for identification of the existence of an American Indian entity under the regulations.

Therefore, we find that the petitioner has met criterion 83.7(a) since 1900, under the reduced burden of proof standard required by the 1994 revision of the regulations.



Criterion 83.7(b)

83.7(b) A predominant portion of the petitioning group comprises a distinct community and has existed as a community from historical times until the present.

Proposed Finding. The 1978 Federal acknowledgment regulations, under which the Proposed Finding was prepared, stated under criterion 83.7(b) that the petitioner must present:

Evidence that a substantial portion of the petitioning group inhabits a specific area or lives in a community viewed as American Indian and distinct from other populations in the area and that its members are descendants of an Indian tribe which historically inhabited a specific area (43 F.R. 172, 39363).

The Proposed Finding concluded that the RMI did not meet this criterion at any point in time, for although there was substantial evidence that a distinct community had existed for a portion of the petitioner's history, from approximately 1870 until approximately 1950, this community had neither been "viewed as American Indian" nor were its members "descendants of an Indian tribe which historically inhabited a specific area."

Impact of the 1994 revised Federal acknowledgment regulations. The RMI chose, on April 22, 1994, to have their petition evaluated under the revised 1994 regulations, which contain new wording for the social community requirement:

A predominant portion of the petitioning group comprises a distinct community and has existed as a community from historical times until the present (CFR 25 §83.7(b); 59 F.R. 38, 9295).

Under the 1994 revised regulations, there must be evidence that establishes, as a minimum, a reasonable likelihood that the petitioner has been a distinct community from historical times to the present. Criterion 83.7(b) no longer requires evidence that a petitioner's community has been viewed as American Indian as well as "distinct from other populations in the area," as had been required for criterion 83.7(b) under the 1978 regulations.

It should be noted that in the 1994 revision the issue of demonstrating descent from an Indian tribe has also been analytically separated from the consideration of community, and is now considered under 25 CFR §83.7(e).

Comment. One of the comments received from Dr. Karen Cantrell, an interested party, seemed to imply that the 1994 revision of the Federal acknowledgment regulations imposed a new, more strict requirement for the community criterion (25 CFR §83.7(b); see Cantrell 1995/7/5, RMI Response Ex. 16). It appears that Dr. Cantrell distinguished between the Proposed Finding terminology "community" and "social community." She assumed that the latter concept was more strictly defined and, therefore, required a different kind of evidence. This is not the case. With the exception of the modifications specifically addressed in this Summary under the Criteria, which have worked to the advantage of the RMI petitioner, the standard for the maintenance of community in the 1994 revised regulations is the same as it was in the 1978 regulations.(1) While the 1994 regulations changed the wording and contain more specific examples of evidence that is acceptable to the Secretary, the standard has not been changed.

The Proposed Finding used the terms "community" and "social community" interchangeably. The regulations under 25 CFR Part 83 provide the following definition for community: "any group of people which can demonstrate that consistent interactions and significant social relationships exist within its membership and that its members are differentiated from and identified as distinct from nonmembers. Community must be understood in the context of the history, geography, culture, and social organization of the group" (25 CFR §83.1).

The term "geographical community" is used as a designation for people living in a village-like setting. It is accepted by the regulations as a high level of evidence if more than 50% of the petitioner's members live in such a setting. This means that the BIA is willing to assume that people who share kinship ties and live in a limited, homogeneous, isolated geographical area are interacting with each other in significant ways, if there is no significant evidence to the contrary. Some of the petitioners since 1978 have successfully met this level of evidence, but most have not.

Petitioners are not, however, required to provide evidence at this high level. If there is no evidence for the existence of an endogamous community or a geographical community, the regulations provide for other forms of evidence that fulfill the requirement for community. These include newspaper articles, local histories, diaries, church records, personal correspondence, oral histories, and any other sources of information that might produce evidence concerning the social interaction of group members. This procedure is precisely how the Proposed Finding arrived at the conclusion that the RMP community was distinct from 1870 to 1950. The analytical concept of "social community," therefore, is not a stricter requirement under the new regulations. It is used as a synonym for community, and the standard for community remains the same.

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(b). Contrary to the RMI Response's assertions, the petitioner has not documented that the RMP coalesced into a distinct community until around 1870. The RMI Response presented no new evidence to support the assertion that the RMP have been a continuous community from colonial times to the present. In conducting its evaluation of the RMI petition, the RMI Response to the Proposed Finding, and comments from interested parties, the BIA found no new evidence to support the contention that the RMP social community had existed from colonial times to 1870.

Also, the petition did not provide acceptable evidence which clearly demonstrated that the RMI social community continued to exist from 1950 to the present. The RMI Response offered no new evidence concerning the community of the RMI from 1950 to the present. BIA researchers found only limited, anecdotal evidence for RMI social community from 1950 to the present.

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(b). The change in wording for 25 CFR §83.7(b) in the 1994 revised regulations requires a modification in the conclusion reached in the Proposed Finding. The Proposed Finding found that there was sufficient evidence that the RMP were a distinct community from about 1870 to 1950. Nevertheless, because they were not a distinct American Indian community whose members were "descendants of an Indian tribe which historically inhabited a specific area," the petitioner failed to meet the requirements of 25 CFR §83.7(b) for that time period.

Under the revised regulations, however, it is now determined that the petitioner meets criterion 83.7(b) at a high level of evidence from 1870 to 1950, because the qualifying "viewed as American Indian" language has been dropped from the revised regulations. The conclusion that the RMP distinct community met criterion 83.7(b) from 1870 to 1950 at a high level of evidence is based on the more complete data on group endogamy found by BIA researchers in the Ramapo Presbyterian Church Register during evaluation of the RMI Response. The change is consistent with the Proposed Finding since the Proposed Finding did determine that the RMI were a separate community for these years. The pattern of over 50 percent group endogamy is consistent with evidence which indicates close residential patterning for the RMI ancestors for much of the same period. Thus, we agree, in part, with conclusions in the RMI Response that the 1994 revised regulations necessitate a change in the finding for criterion 83.7(b), but only for the period from 1870 to 1950.

The petitioner has not documented that the RMI and their antecedent group, the RMP, have existed as a continuous community from the time non-Indians first established themselves in the New York-New Jersey area to 1870. It remains the conclusion of the AS-IA that the RMI's ancestors have not been shown to have formed a distinct community in the Ramapo Mountains until about 1870. Because the petitioner has not demonstrated community before 1870, the group does not meet criteria 83.7(b) or 83.7(c) prior to 1870. Also, very little acceptable evidence was presented to show that the current members of the RMI have continued to maintain a social community from 1950 to the present.

Therefore, the petitioner has not meet the overall requirements of criterion 83.7(b). The 1994 revised regulations still require that community be in evidence from first sustained contact with non-Indians to the present.

We conclude that under the 1994 revised 25 CFR Part 83, the petitioner does not meet criterion 83.7(b) prior to 1870 or from 1950 to the present. Therefore, the petitioner does not meet criterion 83.7(b).



Criterion 83.7(c)

83.7(c) The petitioner has maintained political influence or authority over its members as an autonomous entity from historical times until the present.

Proposed Finding. The Proposed Finding concluded that the petitioner did not meet criterion 83.7(c) at any point in time. The RMI Response to the Proposed Finding did not present any new evidence with regard to criterion 83.7(c).

Impact of the 1994 revised Federal acknowledgment regulations. The final determination concludes that the RMP community, antecedent to the RMI, met criterion 83.7(c) for a limited period, from 1870 to about 1950. This determination that the RMP met criterion 83.7(c) from 1870 to 1950 is the result of the new, explicit linkage in the 1994 revised regulations between criteria 83.7(b) and 83.7(c). The revised regulations state that a petitioner meeting criterion 83.7(b) at a high level of evidence at any point in time will be assumed to have met 83.7(c) at that same point in time.

Under the revised 1994 regulations, if the petitioner meets criterion 83.7(b), the maintenance of community, at a high level of evidence (for example, 50 percent of the membership lives in an isolated, homogeneous, geographical community, or there is at least 50 percent endogamy among the group's members), then the regulations assume automatically that political authority has also been maintained within the community: "A group that has met the requirements of paragraph 83.7(b)(2) at a given point in time shall be considered to have provided sufficient evidence to meet this criterion at that point in time" (25 CFR 83.7(c)(3)).

Since the AS-IA has concluded that the RMP community antecedent to the RMI met criterion 83.7(b) at the high level of evidence from 1870 to 1950, they therefore met 83.7(c) for the same period. The evidence supporting this conclusion is discussed in detail in the technical report that accompanies this final determination.

This final determination, therefore, concludes that, from 1870 to about 1950, the RMI met criterion 83.7(c) because they met criterion 83.7(b) at the high level of evidence, based on the high rate of endogamy (over 50 percent) and the high percentage of members living in a geographical community (over 50 percent).

Comment. The RMI Response did not present any new evidence directly pertaining to criterion 83.7(c). No third-party comments addressed criterion 83.7(c).

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(c). Continuous exercise of political influence and authority has always been required under the Federal acknowledgment regulations, and this requirement has been met by all successful petitioners. For example, in their original petition and in their response to their own Proposed Finding, the Mohegan Tribe provided evidence of continuous political authority in the group from 1641 to the present. This requirement has been met by other successful New England petitioners as well (see the Proposed Findings and Final Determinations for the Wampanoag Tribal Council of Gay Head in Massachusetts and the Narragansett Tribe in Rhode Island).

Without the benefit of the assumption of political authority that was made for the period from 1870 to 1950 under the revised regulations, the petitioner needed to present evidence demonstrating political authority for two distinct periods: from the time of first sustained contact with non-Indians to 1870, and from 1950 to the present. This would have included evidence that: political authority was vested in the membership as a whole; that the members and leadership maintained a bilateral political relationship; that the leaders represented their members on matters of importance to the group as a whole; that the members communicated to their leaders their opinions on issues of importance to the group, that members were able to influence their leaders on such issues; and that the leaders in whom the authority is vested were able to influence the behavior of group members.

The petitioner did not present such evidence, nor was such evidence located by BIA researchers.

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(c). The RMI petition did not present evidence that the RMP maintained any political influence or authority from historical times (from the time of first sustained contact with non-Indians) to 1870. The petition also did not present evidence that established a reasonable likelihood that the RMI had maintained political authority from 1950 to the present. Without the linkage to criterion 83.7(b) for a high level of evidence for the maintenance of community, the regulations do not assume that the RMP maintained political influence or authority before 1870 and from 1950 to the present.

Therefore, the conclusion of the Proposed Finding stands: the petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(c).



Criterion 83.7(d)

83.7(d) A copy of the group's present governing document, including its membership criteria. In the absence of a written document, the petitioner must provide a statement describing in full its membership criteria and current governing procedures.

Proposed Finding. The Proposed Finding concluded that the petitioner had met criterion 83.7(d).

Comment. A comment received from the office of the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, as an interested party, challenged the conclusion, on the grounds that the RMI did not have clearly established membership criteria to which the organization adhered.

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(d). The Federal regulations for acknowledgment do not compel a petitioner to meet prescribed standards regarding membership or to follow its own membership criteria and governing procedures. Criterion 83.7(d) requires only that the petition provide a copy of its governing document, and that either this document or a separate written statement must provide a full description of the governing procedures and membership criteria. The RMI provided this information.

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(d). The conclusion of the Proposed Finding that the petitioner meets criterion 83.7(d) stands.



Criterion 83.7(e)

83.7(e) 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.

(1) Evidence acceptable to the Secretary which can be used for this purpose incudes but is not limited to:

(i) Rolls prepared by the Secretary on a descendancy basis for purposes of distributing claims money, providing allotments, or other purposes;

(ii) State, Federal, or other official records of evidence identifying present members or ancestors of present members as being descendants of a historical tribe or tribes that combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity.

(iii) Church, school, and other similar enrollment records identifying present members or ancestors of present members as being descendants of a historical tribe or tribes that combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity.

(iv) Affidavits of recognition by tribal elders, leaders, or the tribal governing body identifying present members or ancestors of present members as being descendants f a historical tribe or tribes that combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity.

(v) Other records or evidence identifying present members or ancestors of present members as being descendants of a historical tribe or tribes that combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity.

(2) The petitioner must provide an official membership list, separately certified by the group's governing body, of all known current members of the group. This list must include each member's full name (including maiden name), date of birth, and current residential address. The petitioner must also provide a copy of each available former list of members based on the group's own defined criteria, as well as a statement describing the circumstances surrounding the preparation of the current list and, insofar as possible, the circumstances surrounding the preparation of former lists.

Proposed Finding. The Proposed Finding concluded that the RMI did not meet criterion 83.7(e) of the Federal acknowledgment regulations because the petitioner had not presented and BIA staff had not located any evidence that the earliest proven ancestors of the four core families, DeFreese, Van Dunk, Mann, and DeGroat, were Indian, were of Indian descent, or were affiliated with any of the tribes in the New York-New Jersey border area at the time of historic contact.

Historians, anthropologists, and journalists have mentioned many tribes as possible precursors of the RMI: Munsee, Minisink, Tuscarora, Creek, Lenape (generically), Hackensack, and Delaware. However, none of the documentation submitted by the petitioner or any other documents reviewed for the proposed finding connected the earliest documented RMI ancestors with any of the tribes that once resided in New York or New Jersey.

The provisions of the 1978 25 CFR Part 83 regulations under which the Proposed Finding was prepared were essentially the same as the 1994 revised regulations regarding tribal ancestry under criterion 83.7(e). They read:

(e) A list of all known current members of the group and a copy of each available former list of members based on the tribe's own defined criteria. The membership must consist of individuals who have established, using evidence acceptable to the Secretary, descendancy from a tribe which existed historically or from historical tribes which combined and functioned as a single autonomous entity. Evidence acceptable to the Secretary of tribal membership for this purpose includes but is not limited to:

(1) Descendancy rolls prepared by the Secretary for the petitioner for purposes of distributing claims money, providing allotments, or other purposes;

(2) State, Federal, or other official records or evidence identifying present members or ancestors of present members as being an Indian descendant and a member of the petitioning group;

(3) Church, school, and other similar enrollment records indicating the person as being a member of the petitioning entity;

(4) Affidavits of recognition by tribal elders, leaders, or the tribal governing body, as being an Indian descendant of the tribe and a member of the petitioning entity;

(5) Other records or evidence identifying the person as a member of the petitioning entity (43 F.R. 172, 39363).

The November 17, 1992 membership list of the RMI contained 2,815 names, including 122 names marked as deceased. For acknowledgment purposes, names of deceased persons were subtracted from the 1992 list, leaving the petitioner with an estimated membership of 2,693. The petitioner did not submit an updated membership list in its Response to the Proposed Finding. Therefore, the 1992 list was referred to for this final determination. The BIA has no reason to believe that the membership of the RMI changed in any significant manner since the Proposed Finding.

The Proposed Finding concluded that the earliest proven RMI progenitors were John DeFreese, born before 1790, James DeGroat, born about 1792, William R. DeGroat, born about 1814, John DeGroat, born about 1821, William Mann, born about 1827, John Van Dunk, probably born about 1780, and possibly, a second man named John DeGroat, born about 1797, and their wives. The Proposed Finding concluded that virtually every current RMI member descends from at least two of the four families of Van Dunk, DeFreese, DeGroat, and Mann because of a high rate of endogamy which could be documented beginning in the early 1800's.

Comment. The RMI Response did not present any new evidence under criterion 83.7(e), but reanalyzed evidence that had been presented with the original petition. The RMI Response emphasized attributions of Indian "characteristics" that were ascribed by outside observers to some RMI ancestors, and to collateral relatives of direct RMI ancestors, in the late 1800's and early 1900's as proof of Indian "descent."

Third-party comments also failed to present new genealogical evidence. Both the RMI Response and comments by interested and informed parties referred to long-standing traditions of Indian ancestry as "evidence" that the RMI descend from a historical tribe of Indians. However, no documentary evidence was submitted to connect the earliest known RMI ancestors with any 18th century progenitors, be they Indian or non-Indian.

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(e). None of the evidence submitted by the petitioner or uncovered during the research process identified the parentage or origin of the proven early 19th century progenitors of the RMI.

The petitioner presented no claims, allotment, or annuity rolls prepared by the Secretary (83.7(1)(i)). The petitioner presented no State, Federal, or other official records or evidence identifying the earliest known ancestors of present members as being descendants of a historical tribe or tribes that combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity (83.7(1)(ii)). The petitioner presented no church, school, or other similar enrollment records identifying the earliest known ancestors of present members as being descendants of a historical tribe or tribes that combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity (83.7(1) (iii).

The petitioner's response cited two DeGroat men, one of whom has no known descendants in the modern RMI, who were referred to as "7/8th's Indian" on a New York State census entry in 1875. Neither man was referred to as Indian on any other census record, nor were their parents or other siblings ever identified as Indian or of Indian descent in their own lifetimes. The 1875 New York census provided no tribal identification.

In like manner, the petitioner's response cited the identification of a man named Florence Maguiness as Indian on the 1870 Federal census. The 1870 Federal census provided no tribal identification. The immediate family members of Florence Maguiness, who was identified as Indian on the 1870 Federal census, were not identified as Indian or of Indian descent on any other census, church or civil record in their own lifetimes. None of Florence Maguiness' known descendants are in the RMI, although there are a few descendants of his collateral relatives in the membership.

The Federal regulations for the acknowledgment of a tribe of American Indians do not permit acknowledgment on the basis of the petitioner's assertion that the group's unknown and unnamed 18th century ancestors were Indian. Beyond "Indian" ancestry, which in itself has not been shown to exist for the RMI, the petitioner has not demonstrated specific tribal ancestry as required by the Federal regulations in order to meet criterion 83.7(e).

In making this Final Determination, the BIA has reviewed the evidence used to prepare the Proposed Finding, the RMI response to the Proposed Finding, and additional research conducted for the Final Determination by BIA staff. None of the interested party or third party comments were directed to the specific genealogies of the RMI progenitor families. None of the interested party or third party comments provided substantive proof that the earliest proven RMI ancestors descended from a historical tribe of North American Indians. Therefore, the third-party comments were not directly pertinent to criterion 83.7(e).

None of the outside observers cited in the RMI Response provided documentation of actual tribal descent. Statements of generically "Indian" characteristics are not equivalent under the 25 CFR Part 83 regulations to documented descent from "a historical Indian tribe or from historical Indian tribes which combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity." Statements concerning more general "Indian" descent are not in themselves adequate to meet criterion 83.7(e), and must also be evaluated in the full context of the available evidence.

Neither the petitioner nor BIA staff researchers were able to identify the ancestors of the earliest known RMI progenitors or to trace them to a historical 18th century tribe with a continuous existence in southeastern New York or northeastern New Jersey from the colonial period until the present. This situation offered a clear contrast to other petitioners from the eastern United States that have received Federal acknowledgment through the 25 CFR Part 83 process, such as the Narragansett, the Gay Head Wampanoag, or the Mohegan. In those cases, a clear historical and genealogical record tied the petitioner's modern membership to a specific historical tribe.

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(e). In conclusion, the origins and parentage of the earliest genealogically proven ancestors of the petitioner are not known. The petitioner has not demonstrated that their earliest documented ancestors were members of a historical North American Indian tribe, nor has the petitioner documented that their earliest proven progenitors descended from any known historical tribe of North American Indians. Without documentation, the BIA cannot make an assumption, on the basis of late 19th-century and early 20th-century ascriptions, that these unknown RMI ancestors were members of a historical North American Indian tribe. The petitioner has not presented acceptable evidence that the RMI descend from a historical Indian tribe, or from tribes which amalgamated and functioned as a single unit, either as individuals or as a group.

Therefore, the Proposed Finding that the RMI had not documented descent from a historical tribe stands. The Final Determination concludes that the petitioner does not meet criterion 83.7(e).



Criterion 83.7(f)

83.7(f) The membership of the petitioning group is composed principally of persons who are not members of any acknowledged North American Indian tribe.

Proposed Finding. The Proposed Finding concluded that there was no evidence that the membership of the RMI was composed principally of persons who were members of other federally acknowledged Indian tribes.

Comment. No comments pertaining to this conclusion were received during the comment period.

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(f). No evidence to refute the conclusion of the Proposed Finding was received during the comment period.

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(f). The conclusion that the petitioner meets criterion 83.7(f) stands.

Criterion 83.7(g)

83.7(g) Neither the petitioner nor its members are the subject of congressional legislation that has expressly terminated or forbidden the Federal relationship.

Proposed Finding. The Proposed Finding concluded that there was no evidence that the RMI petitioner represented an Indian group which had been the subject of congressional legislation that expressly terminated or forbade the Federal relationship.

Comments. No comments pertaining to this criterion were received during the comment period.

Summary of the Evidence under Criterion 83.7(g). No evidence to refute this conclusion was received during the comment period.

Summary Conclusion under Criterion 83.7(g). The conclusion that the petitioner meets criterion 83.7(g) stands.11