Grant application may help Maidu people gain recognition
“For the first time, HCD released a notice of funding availability for projects for non-recognized Native American tribes,” Cochran said. “However, they can’t apply in their own behalf. The county would have to apply for them.”
Last month, Ron Morales approached county staff, she said, asking it to apply on the tribe’s behalf for an up to $1 million grant. Cochran said she didn’t know if any grants for non-recognized tribes will ever be available again.
The HCD representative “kind of made it sound like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime-type thing,” she said. The grant must mitigate slums and blight, meet an urgent need from a recent natural disaster or infrastructure failure or benefit low to moderate income households.
“I was actually kind of glad to see this … that they are looking at non-recognized tribes,” said District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman. “I think that’s been a long-standing issue that’s been around (for) the Honey Lake Maidu.”
Asking, “Who are the Honey Lake Maidu?” Chapman referred to the book “Quest for Tribal Acknowledgment: California’s Honey Lake Maidus,” by Sara-Larus Tolley, an anthropologist working to help the Honey Lake Maidu gain federal recognition.
Chapman said repeated dealings with a government entity is one criteria the federal government uses to qualify a tribe for federal acknowledgment.
“This board needs to understand what the consequences are,” Chapman said, later adding, “The feds don’t want to give them recognition, but maybe we can.”
Cochran said she will collect the names and addresses of all Honey Lake Maidus as part of the grant application process.
The board unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the grant application and authorizing execution of a grant agreement.
“Quest for Tribal Acknowledgment” claims the tribe is at the mercy of the federal government, which decides “who is, or is not an Indian,” according to Greg Sarris, the chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, and an author, who wrote the foreword.
During the early 20th century the federal government began creating rancherias and recognizing and creating tribes, sometimes from formerly distinct tribal groups, Sarris wrote.
Benefits of federal recognition Tolley listed include the right to retrieve ancestral bones and grave goods when Native American remains are discovered, religious and cultural protections, and access to federal housing, education money, trust land and the right to build casinos.
In addition, recognized tribes gain the right to protect burial grounds and cultural sites “from federal, state and corporate development.”
“It would also mean having a way of protecting their right to use lands they themselves no longer own for gathering acorns and other plant materials,” she wrote.
Since the federal government formulated tribal acknowledgment criteria in 1978, the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research has recognized only one tribe out of 60 petitions, according to Tolley. In 1983, it recognized the Timbisha Shoshones of Death Valley. In 2002, it denied a petition by the Muwekma Ohlones.
According to oupress.com, the Web site of the publisher — the University of Oklahoma press — Tolley, an anthropologist who has worked for the Honey Lake Maidus for several years, recounts the group’s efforts to obtain recognition. In 1999, the tribe gained funding to work full-time on its petition, which it submitted to the government in 2001.
“While the Honey Lake Maidus wait for their application to gain ‘active’ status,” according to the Web site, “they continually update and refine its contents. And like hundreds of other unrecognized Indian groups seeking acknowledgment, they hope for the future.
“Sara-Larus Tolley is a researcher for News from Native California, a quarterly magazine. She continues to assist the Honey Lake Maidus in their fight for federal acknowledgment. “
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