After nearly 30 years, the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians will learn in a few weeks whether their petition for federal recognition will be granted.
R. Lee Fleming, director of the Office of Federal Acknowledgement, said the announcement will be made on or before October 4. The decision comes after the Juanenos scrambled to change course in the wake of a preliminary ruling in 2007 that found the tribe did not meet four of the seven criteria for federal recognition.
Federal recognition would allow the tribe to form its own government, enforce laws (both civil and criminal), tax, license and regulate activities, zone, and exclude persons from tribal territories—which can be acquired from the federal government. The recognition is also a key step in allowing a tribe to operate a casino or other business enterprise.
More than 560 tribes have gained federal recognition, but the process is painstaking and lengthy. San Juan Capistrano Native Americans initially filed for the recognition in 1982, and now more than one group seeks the federal authority. But in a June 2007 proposed finding, federal officials said the Juanenos fells short in four of the seven criteria required for recognition. The ruling said then that only 4 percent of the tribe’s 908 members could show they descended from the original Mission tribe.
Read more: The Capistrano Dispatch - Decision Near in Juaneno Federal Recognition