Indian Affairs | OFA

Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA)

The Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs of the Department of the Interior (DOI) implements Part 83 of Title 25 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Procedures for Establishing that an American Indian Group Exists as an Indian Tribe. The acknowledgment process is the Department's administrative process by which petitioning groups that meet the criteria are "acknowledged" as Indian tribes and their members become eligible to receive services provided to members of federally recognized Indian tribes. The acknowledgment regulations are the result of a rulemaking process that included notice and extensive public comment.

Basic Administrative and Regulatory Documents:


Supplemental Administrative and Regulatory Documents: These are additional documents that may be of assistance in preparing petitions and in better understanding the Federal acknowledgment process. These documents include the previous version of the acknowledgment regulations ("the old regulations"); several guidance directives from the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs; general timelines for the 25 CFR 83 acknowledgment process (.pdf); technical assistance (TA) guidelines; the 2005 GAO report; guidelines for preparing petitions; sample formats of petitioner submissions; and other documents.

Guidelines, Precedent Manual, and Sample Petition Narrative: The documents include general guidelines intended for the petitioning group, as well as more specialized guidelines for researchers. Also included is a precedent manual that may better help petitioners understand how the Department has interpreted the regulations.  A sample petition narrative provides an example of a narrative written by a member of a petitioning group, who volunteered for the project, along with the help of other group members. 

Recent Cases: This is a listing of the Department's latest decisions. The listing contains not only the decision documents, but also the press releases and Federal Register notices for each decision.

Acknowledgment Decision Compilation (ADC):The ADC contains copies of previous acknowledgment decisions and associated documents.

Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA) Documents: The IBIA is an appeals court within the Department of the Interior to which, under 25 CFR 83, petitioners or interested parties may appeal decisions by the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs.