Government to Government documentation regarding Certificates of Degree of Indian Blood

With a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) initially issued in 1992 and Chickasaw tribal membership in hand, I applied on behalf of my daughter for her CDIB. I have had an appeal on the denial of my application necessitated by agency action (or should I say, inaction) at the Eastern District of Oklahoma and the Chickasaw Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs offices.

To date, the Bureau has not given valid, legal reasons for denying my application or the application of my sister who doesn’t yet have a CDIB, despite the evidence and substantial public documentation provided, including a State of Oklahoma Determination of Heirship (just an example of government to government) in support of our claim. See (http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc-001805.pdf) and 25 C.F.R. Section 16.7 conferring jurisdiction lies in the District Courts of Oklahoma over Five Civilized Tribe Probate & Heirship, and also affirmed in the 2004 American Indian Probate Reform Act.

Out of eight siblings, including myself six have been issued CDIBs. The Bureau of Indian Affairs should consider the following points:

1. The Bureau has not done its job in accepting public documentation (issued by federal, state and county sources) and has blatantly refused to recognize a Determination of Heirship done on my Grandmother’s estate affirming my father as Grandmother Susie’s son and us as her heirs,

2. It is not within the Bureau’s “discretionary authority” to ignore the law (BIA issues a CDIB and 25 C.F.R. stating special rules apply to Five Civilized Tribes, specifically State of Oklahoma laws and judicial authority). Public documentation is the evidence required to show “generation to generation…”

3. Issuance of a CDIB based on public records is NOT defined as a tribal enrollment dispute, since a CDIB must be issued first and citizenship decisions of the tribe is a separate process, as recognized by the Chickasaw Tribe itself and as a card carrying American Indian,

4. The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs under his authority has an obligation to protect my Indian Civil Rights, since both federal and state authority are being circumvented and statutes of law have been violated.

The issuing agency of the CDIB is the Chickasaw Agency, a BIA agency (as documented on CDIB cards and is the issuing agency of blood quantum amounts). More recent, the Chickasaw Agency is housed in the same building now as the Chickasaw tribe’s Citizenship Department (but separate offices). The Bureau and tribe are not nor should they be “one and the same!” Both the Chickasaw Agency and the Eastern District of Oklahoma Bureau offices are derelict in their duties (http://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/RegionalOffices/EasternOklahoma/index.htm).

From a letter dated in 2003 from the Bureau sent to me, it is clear the broken link is undue influence between the Agency and certain private but hardly dis-interested individual (s). All federal agencies must comply with disclosure and transparency requirements. THE BUREAU IS RELYING ON PERSONAL INFORMATION, UNSUBSTANTIATED BY PUBLIC DOCUMENTATION. 

The Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs (“AS-IA”) has the authority to issue guidance and direction to professional staff to improve internal procedures in a way that addresses the transparency, timeliness, lack of adequate funding, and burden on the petitioner problems that are systemic…. Such guidance and direction allows the AS-IA to improve the process by utilizing the existing statutory and regulatory framework.

To reiterate, the State of Oklahoma was given the jurisdiction over Indian Heirship and Probate. CDIB is particularly carved out in Oklahoma and the basis of issuing a CDIB is still a BIA, not tribal issue.

Five Civilized Tribes of Indians who may die or may have heretofore died, leaving restricted heirs, by the probate court of the State of Oklahoma having jurisdiction to settle the estate of said deceased, conducted in the manner provided by the laws of said State for the determination of heirship in closing the estates of deceased persons.”

Moreover, “A decree of distribution and determination of heirship made in the manner provided by sections 1359-1362, C.O.S. 1921, by the county court in probate having jurisdiction of the settlement of an estate is conclusive as to the rights of the parties.” see http://law.justia.com/cases/oklahoma/supreme-court/1934/38839.html.

My father was born in 1914 or was defined as an “after born child” or birth after March 06, 1906 the date in which the Dawes Roll was closed. Grandmother Susie (Chickasaw 2828) died in 1927 and is listed on the Dawes Roll.

Public documentation is the basis of proof. I provided that, including a Determination of Heirship issued by the State of Oklahoma. BIA has no jurisdiction over such matters in the State of Oklahoma. I demand that the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs or his next highest individual directly beneath him institute a FULL investigation of the Eastern District of Oklahoma and Chickasaw Agency offices for willful violation of current law and regulations. In so doing, the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs will act to protect my various civil rights and those of my other family members.

Finally, consider the 1947 Act that reaffirms the role of the Oklahoma District Courts in Indian probate and heirship. Read this informative law journal article at http://www.okbar.org/members/BarJournal/archive2013/MayArchive13/OBJ8414Ross.aspx.

Heirship should be done in the manner provided by the state, as described in 25 C.F.R. Section 375 (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/25/375). Note in the above quote, as it reads, “[c]ounty court in probate having jurisdiction of the settlement of an estate is conclusive as to the rights of the parties.”

Helen Nowlin, Attorney

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