Between 1980 and 1986, one major focus of HPI’s efforts was the preparation of the Federal acknowledgment petition for consideration under a new administrative process established under regulations adopted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  Those regulations required tribes, whose government-to-government relations with the United States had been improperly terminated to submit documentation that confirmed that their tribe had continued to exist as a distinct government from treaty times to the present.  A partial, documented petition, focusing on the historical record, was submitted to the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (BAR) at the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on January 16, 1981. The BIA responded by saying that Huron Potawatomi’s petition would “be considered at the earliest possible time.” BAR also requested that the remainder of the petition be submitted so that the petition could be processed.

In 1984, David Mackety once again took the leadership role in pursuing Federal acknowledgment for the Huron Potawatomi. His brother Sam, a BIA tribal operations officer, was the most vocal supporter among the Mackety clan. With Sam’s urging, he and his brother traveled to Washington to submit HPI’s genealogy charts to BAR. Despite submitting the additional charts, Mackety learned from the U.S. Department of the Interior officials that the HPI petition was still incomplete. A letter signed by the Deputy Director of the Office of Indian Services listed several categories of documents needed before their petition would be considered complete:

  • Added genealogical materials
  • A membership list certified by the governing body
  • An expanded discussion of the governing process of the group from 1936 to 1970
  • A full description of the community as it was in 1984

Progress in completing the requested documents for Federal reaffirmation was slow. The council lacked monies to maintain a Huron Potawatomi program staff. The completed petition for Federal Acknowledgement would not be submitted until February 3, 1987, under 25 CFR 83.

On October 13, 1987, as part of the federal acknowledgment process, the BAR sent what is referred to as an “obvious deficiency review” letter to Chairman David Mackety.  That letter invited the Huron Potawatomi to address what the BAR deemed gaps or deficiencies in the documentation needed to determine that the Huron Potawatomi met the requirements to have the federal government formally acknowledge the Huron Potawatomi’s status as a sovereign and reaffirm its government-to-government relationship with the Huron Potawatomi.

References:

United States, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs Branch of Acknowledgement and Research, et al. “Summary Under the Criteria and Evidence for Proposed Finding Huron Potawatomi, Inc.” HPI-V001-D004, https://www.bia.gov/sites/bia.gov/files/assets/as-ia/ofa/petition/009_hurpot_MI/009_pf.pdf.