Department: Only Congress can recognize Wis. tribe
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of the Interior says it cannot acknowledge the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin as an Indian tribe under federal law because Congress once terminated its tribal status.
Brothertown is based in Fond du Lac, Wis. The tribe has been seeking federal recognition since 1980 when it had 3,137 members.
A reservation for the tribe was established in 1832. But the department’s research shows that in 1839, the tribe divided its land among members with permission from Congress and gave up tribal status to do so.
The Interior Department says in its Friday decision that its rules forbid it from recognizing tribes Congress has terminated. And the department says only Congress can restore Brothertown’s tribal status. The recognition would restore the tribe’s government-to-government relationship with the U.S. government.