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Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma

 

Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma Tribal Code
Enrollment Procedures (Membership Ordinance)

GENERAL NOTES

March 20. 1999

 Absentee Shawnee Enrollment Procedures Code, AST ENROLL PROC Code



I. Authority

This membership ordinance of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma is enacted by the General Council pursuant to the provisions of Article III, Section 5 of the Constitution of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.

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II. Purpose

The purpose of this membership ordinance is to establish guidelines, rules and an orderly procedure to maintain a current membership roll of all persons eligible for membership pursuant to Article III of the Constitution of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.

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III. Definitions

The following terms and phrases, when used in this ordinance, shall have the meaning ascribed to them.

A. “Adopted child”--One whose natural parents' parental rights have been terminated by a court and given to another, or whose natural parents have voluntarily placed the child for adoption.

B. “Adoption”--Either (1) the legal action whereby parental rights of natural parents are terminated by court order and assigned to another, or whose natural parents have voluntarily placed the child for adoption.

C. “Applicant”--A person who has submitted an application for membership in the tribe prior to final action on the application.

D. “Base enrollees”--Those individuals from whom all persons applying for membership must prove direct descent. For this tribe, the base enrollees are those persons of Indian blood enrolled or who were entitled to be enrolled on the official census roll of the tribe as of January 1, 1937.

E. “Constitution”--The Constitution of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma ratified June 4, 1977, and all amendments added thereto.

F. “Direct descent” or “direct lineal descent”--Biological descent where lineage can be traced from parent to child in each generation.

G. “Disenrollment”--An official act by the tribe to deprive a member of the right to tribal membership.

H. “Documentation”--The supply of legal evidence to support a statement of fact. No enrollment action shall be taken without documentation to support the decision.

I. “Executive Committee”--The legislative/executive branch of the Tribe authorized to make enrollment decisions pursuant to Article III, Section 4 of the Constitution.

J. “Family tree chart”--The form used to show the line of descent of an applicant from a base enrollee.

K. “Incompetents”--Persons who have been legally determined to be unable to take effective actions on their own behalf.

L. “Member”--An individual who has met the membership criteria of an Indian tribe and is officially enrolled with that tribe.

M. “Minor”--A person under the age of eighteen years.

N. “Notarized”--A document attested before or authenticated by a public officer (a notary) who witnesses the signature and certifies that it is authentic.

O. “Relinquishment”--Personal, voluntary action taken by a tribal member or an individual legally authorized to act on the member's behalf to terminate the member's relationship with the tribe.

P. “Resolution”--A formal statement of a decision by a tribal entity.

Q. “SHARED IN LAND OR MONEY”--As used in ARTICLE III, SECTION 3, of the CONSTITUTION, means that the individual received a TRACT or TRACTS OF LAND directly from the OTHER TRIBE OR RECEIVED MONEY from a PER CAPITA PAYMENT DISTRIBUTED ONLY TO MEMBERS OF THE OTHER TRIBE. THIS PHRASE DOES NOT REFER TO LAND INHERITED FROM AN INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OF THE OTHER TRIBE. NOR DOES IT REFER TO ACCEPTANCE OF FUNDS FOR SERVICES SUCH AS EDUCATION OR SOCIAL SERVICES. IT ALSO DOES NOT REFER TO THE RECEIPT OF PER CAPITA PAYMENTS DISTRIBUTED TO ALL DESECENDANTS OF A TRIBE RATHER THAN TO MEMBERS ONLY.

R. “Sponsor”--A parent or legal guardian who has the legal authority to take enrollment actions on behalf of another person because of age or incompetence.

S. “Tribe”--The Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.

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IV. Eligibility Criteria

Article III of the Constitution of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma:

Section 1. The membership of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma shall consist of the following persons:

(a) All persons of Indian blood enrolled or who were entitled to be enrolled on the official census roll of the tribe as of January 1, 1937. All Indian blood shown on that roll shall be considered to be blood of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.

(b) All children of Absentee Shawnee blood born to any member of the tribe between January 1, 1937 and April 17, 1954, the effective date of Amendment II to the 1938 Constitution and bylaws.

(c) All children born since April 17, 1954, who are of at least one-fourth (1/4) degree Absentee Shawnee blood.

Section 2. From and after the effective date of this Constitution, no person shall be enrolled as a member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe unless he possesses at least one-fourth (1/4) degree Absentee Shawnee Indian blood.

Section 3. Any person entitled to membership who has been enrolled as a member of another tribe may be enrolled in the Absentee Shawnee Tribe; provided that person has not shared in land or money as a member of another tribe; and provided further, that person relinquishes in writing and officially terminates membership in the other tribe.

Section 4. All persons, desiring to be enrolled members of the tribe, who are not presently enrolled, must submit an enrollment application to the Secretary of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe for subsequent approval or disapproval of the Executive Committee. Applications for membership must be supported by birth certificates or other records recognized by State or Federal officials. Such documents or copies thereof shall be kept by the Executive Committee for their permanent records.

Section 5. The General Council shall have power to prescribe rules and regulations by ordinance, covering future membership including adoptions and the loss of membership.

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V. Filing an application for enrollment

A. Who must file All persons not listed on the current Absentee Shawnee membership roll must file an enrollment application. Applications for minors or incompetents must be filed by parents or legal guardians. A separate application must be filed by each individual seeking enrollment. If it is discovered that any person on the current tribal roll, who is not a base enrollee, did not file an application and submit documentation before being placed on the tribal roll, that person may be requested to provide such an application and documentation or face Disenrollment proceedings. Base enrollees are members pursuant to the constitution and are not required to provide applications and documentation.

B. When and where to file an application All enrollment applications must be filed with the Secretary of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe. Application forms may be obtained by oral or written request from the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma (insert mailing address and telephone number). There is no deadline for filing enrollment applications for membership purposes. However, the Executive Committee may from time to time establish a deadline for filing of enrollment applications for specific purposes.

C. What the application must contain--Each enrollment application must be completed in its entirety and must contain sufficient personal information to properly determine the applicant's eligibility for enrollment. The enrollment application shall show the following:

1. All names by which the applicant is or has been known.

2. The mailing address of the applicant.

3. The applicant's telephone number.

4. Date of applicant's birth.

5. Applicant's social security number.

6. The name of any tribe(s) other than Absentee Shawnee from which the applicant is descended.

7. The name of the base enrollee through whom the applicant is claiming eligibility for membership.

8. The requirement of a “yes” or “no” answer to the question: Is the applicant an enrolled member of another tribe, band or Indian community?

9. The requirement of “yes” or “no” answers to the questions: Is the applicant adopted? Were any of your Absentee Shawnee ancestors adopted?

10. Certification that the information given in the application is true and accurate as known by the applicant or sponsor.

11. A statement reminding the applicant or sponsor that it is a criminal offense under tribal law to present false or untrue information for enrollment purposes.

12. Signature of legal applicant or legal custodian (with relationship to applicant). Applications for minors require the signatures of both parents or a certification that the non-signing parent is not a member of another tribe. If the applicant for a minor does not have legal custody, both natural parents must sign the application.

13. Date the application was signed.

D. Documentation to accompany all applications--Since the burden of proof is on the applicant, the application must be accompanied by the following documentation:

1. Applicant's original state-issued birth certificate

2. If the applicant's natural mother was not a tribal member, or if the Absentee Shawnee blood of the father is required for the applicant to have 1/4 Absentee Shawnee blood, one of the following also must accompany the birth certificate:

(a) a marriage license showing that the applicant's mother was married to the tribal member father at the time of conception; or

(b) a notarized affidavit of paternity signed by both the applicant's mother and father; and a DNA or genetic marker test (obtained at the applicant's sole expense) determining the probability that a specific tribal member is the natural father of the applicant to be not less than 97%; or

(c) a court order declaring a specific tribal member to be the natural father.

4. Documentation proving the direct descent of each Absentee Shawnee ancestor from a base enrollee if neither the applicant's father nor mother is an enrolled member of the tribe.

5. Relinquishment of membership in any other tribe, band or Indian community of which the applicant is a member.

E. Additional documentation to accompany application of applicant who is adopted--In addition to those items identified in subsection D above, an applicant who has been adopted must also submit documentation proving that a natural parent is a descendant of a base enrollee. Usually this documentation will consist of a copy of the adoption decree together with either the original birth certificate showing the natural parent(s) or a legal document identifying the natural parent(s). However, a certification from the Secretary of the Interior or his/her authorized representative pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-608), 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., shall be conclusive evidence of the relationship to the natural parent(s).

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VI. Processing an Application for Enrollment

A. By tribal enrollment staff--The Tribal Secretary shall designate a tribal employee to serve as the tribal enrollment staff. All applications shall be received or routed to this staff person who shall take the following actions:

1. Stamp the application form and all enclosures with the date on which they were received and acknowledge receipt of them.

2. Make a folder for the application and supporting documents.

3. Make sure the application is complete. A copy will be made of an incomplete application and the original will be sent back to the applicant to be completed. The date the incomplete application was returned to the applicant will be noted. The copy will be retained in the applicant's folder along with the supporting documents pending the return of the completed original application.

4. A completed application submitted without supporting documents will be retained in the applicant's folder. A letter will be sent requesting the needed documents.

5. Prepare a Family Tree Chart.

6. Compute the applicant's degree of Absentee Shawnee Indian blood.

7. Check with any other tribes, bands or Indian communities from which the applicant is descended to verify whether or not the applicant is a member of any of those groups. Also determine whether or not the applicant has “shared in land or money as a member of another tribe” as defined in this ordinance. Although not necessary to determine eligibility for membership in the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, a certification of the applicant's degree of Indian blood of the other tribe(s) may also be requested, as a service to the applicant, in order that this information may be added to the tribal roll.

8. Make ready each completed application, along with proper documentation, for review by the Secretary of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe within sixty (60) days of receipt.

9. Assist the applicant as much as possible in determining ways that might help in establishing eligibility.

B. By the Secretary of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe:

1. Examine each completed application with its supporting documents within sixty (60) days of its receipt.

2. Determine whether additional information, documents or research are required. If so, direct the enrollment staff to prepare appropriate correspondence requesting information or documents or assign responsibility for needed research.

3. Recommend for membership the applicants who have proven they fulfill the membership requirements as shown in the constitution.

4. Prepare resolutions accepting eligible applicants and forward the resolutions to the Executive Committee for action.

5. Recommend for rejection the applicants who have not proven they fulfill the membership requirements as shown in the constitution.

7. Prepare resolutions rejecting such ineligible applicants and forward the resolutions to the Executive Committee for action.

C. By the Executive Committee

1. Adopt resolutions approving eligible applicants and rejecting ineligible applicants.

2. Direct the enrollment staff to notify the accepted applicants of their acceptance into membership; their first three (3) CDIB cards will be free of charge; and any card that needs to be replaced thereafter will be $5.00. All original documents that were submitted will be returned to the applicant, and a photocopy will be kept in the file. The enrollment staff will need to initial and date the copies that are made for the enrollment file.

3. Direct the enrollment staff to notify the rejected applicants by certified mail of their rejection, giving them their right to appeal the rejection to the tribal court as provided in Section VIII of this ordinance. Such rejected applicants shall also be advised that a new application may be submitted when the needed documentation of eligibility has been obtained.

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VII. Loss of Membership

There are two ways in which membership in the tribe may be lost. One is voluntary and is called relinquishment. The other is involuntary and is called disenrollment.

A. Relinquishment

1. By an adult member--Any adult member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe may voluntarily relinquish his/her membership. Such relinquishment must be in writing, and the member's signature must be notarized. The enrollment staff shall note the date of the relinquishment, and prepare a Resolution for Executive Committee approval. After the Executive Committee has taken action, file the relinquishment form in the former member's folder and move the folder into the drawer designated for former members. The Enrollment staff will have the relinquishee sign an affidavit of the relinquishment.

2. By a minor member--The membership of any member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe who is not at least 18 years of age may be relinquished by his/her parent or guardian. The relinquishment must be in writing, and the signature of the parent or guardian must be notarized. The enrollment staff shall take great care to determine that the individual who signed the form has legal custody of the affected minor member. Then the minor's relinquishment shall be processed the same as one for an adult.

3. Forms and effective dates--Any member desiring to relinquish shall be encouraged to do so on a conditional relinquishment form. In such case, the relinquishment shall become effective upon the acceptance of that individual into the membership of another tribe. The member's name shall not be removed from the Absentee Shawnee Tribe's current membership roll until documentation of the acceptance into the other tribe's membership is received. Should a member insist upon relinquishing in writing without using the conditional relinquishment form, the tribe will comply with the member's wishes and remove the member's name from the current tribal roll with the effective date being the date the relinquishment was received by the enrollment staff.

4. Membership after relinquishment--An adult member can relinquish only twice before they have permanently severed his/her ties with the tribe and shall not be permitted to rejoin the Tribe. A minor member whose membership has been relinquished by a parent or guardian may submit an application for membership after he/she becomes 18 years of age. Such application shall be processed as though the individual had not previously been a member.

B. Disenrollment: The burden of proof in disenrollment actions rests with the tribe.

1. Who may be disenrolled?--A tribal member shall be disenrolled when it is discovered that he/she

a. was erroneously enrolled in that he/she did not submit adequate documentation proving he/she met the constitutional membership criteria at the time of enrollment. This “erroneous enrollment” may have resulted from fraudulent submissions, mistakes in blood degree computations or inadequate research; or

b. is found to be currently enrolled with another Indian tribe and does not relinquish the membership in the other tribe within thirty (30) days of receipt of a certified letter from the Secretary of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe informing him/her of the necessity to submit the required relinquishment; or

c. is determined to have shared in land or money as a member of another tribe as defined in this ordinance.

2. Procedure for Disenrollment--A member identified as subject to disenrollment pursuant to the above sub-sections shall be notified by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the intent to disenroll. Included in the notice shall be the date set for a hearing before the Executive Committee to consider the matter. Following the hearing, whether or not the affected member makes any appearance or response, the Executive Committee shall determine if the member is to be disenrolled. Such decision shall be documented in an Executive Committee resolution. The disenrolled member shall be notified of the action taken by certified mail, return receipt requested. Such notice shall include the appeal rights outlined in Section VIII of this ordinance.

3. Persons who have been disenrolled may submit new applications for membership when adequate documentation of eligibility has been obtained. Such applications will be processed as though the individual had not previously been a member.

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VIII. Appeals

A. Eligible appellants-

The following persons shall be eligible to file an appeal:

1. Any applicant who has been rejected for membership, or

2. Any person who has been disenrolled.

B. Timing of appeal-

Each notice of rejection or disenrollment shall provide that an appeal must be received within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the notice in order to be considered. The date stamped on the receipt of the certified letter shall be considered the beginning of that thirty (30)-day period.

C. Filing of appeal-

The notice of appeal must be filed with the Tribal District Court of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe. The date the appeal is received in the Tribal Court Clerk's office shall be considered its date of receipt. An appeal must be in writing. No appeal may be filed by any form of electronic communication. Failure to file an appeal within thirty (30) calendar days shall waive any right to an appeal.

D. Handling of appeal-

Upon receipt of an appeal, the tribal court shall obtain the appellant's file from the enrollment office for review. The tribal court shall set a date not less than twenty (20) nor more than sixty (60) days from the date of mailing of the notice for a hearing on the appeal. The tribal court shall notify the appellant of the hearing by certified mail. This notice shall outline clearly again the basis for the rejection of the appellant's application or the basis for the appellant's disenrollment and shall inform the appellant of his/her right to be heard in person or by representation This notice shall also inform the appellant that new evidence may be presented for consideration. Following the hearing, whether or not the appellant makes any appearance or response, the tribal court shall document its decision by a court order and notify the appellant by certified mail of its decision. The decision of the tribal court shall be final.

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IX. Records

A. Contents of individual folders:

An individual folder shall be established for each tribal member and applicant. The folder shall contain the following items:

1. Application

2. Family tree chart of persons other than base enrollees

3. Birth Certificate

4. Correspondence

5. All other documentation on the person pertinent to membership in the tribe

6. Death Certificate

B. Access to records:

1. The Roll:

The tribe's membership roll may not be viewed by any member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe. Neither the roll nor any portion thereof may be copied or distributed to any person or organization, except to comply with Tribal Law and for legitimate governmental purposes.

2. The folders-

Information in individual folders is confidential, and is only available to the individual (or his/her parent or legal custodian).

3. Special concern-

An adopted person's eligibility for enrollment is determined through one or both of the natural parents. Documentary evidence submitted to support an adopted person's application must show relationship to the natural parent through whom eligibility for enrollment is determined. The information concerning adopted persons shall be recorded as confidential and shall not be made available to any other person. This information shall be stored in locked file cabinets and adequate safeguards shall be installed to ensure that the confidentiality of these records shall not be violated.

C. Updating records:

Upon receipt of appropriate documentation, the enrollment staff is authorized to update the information on the tribal roll. The following documentation is deemed adequate for such actions to be taken:

1. Name change--Marriage license; or divorce decree; or Court ordered name change.

2. Address change--Complete address form signed by tribal member over 18 years of age; or Written request or notification.

3. Death--Death certificate, if available; or notarized statement from an individual who attended the funeral. The Enrollment Staff will coordinate with the probate section of the Realty Department.

Any change for which none of the above documents is available must be authorized in writing by the Secretary of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma stating the reason for the change without usual documentation. A copy of that written authorization shall be placed in the individual's folder.

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X. Computing Degree of Absentee Shawnee Tribal Blood

A. Initial Computation-

Pursuant to Article III, Section 1(a) of the constitution, all Indian blood shown on the official census roll of the tribe as of January 1, 1937, shall be considered to be blood of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. Any degree of Non-Indian shown on that roll shall not be considered Absentee Shawnee blood. The blood degrees shown on that roll shall be used in computing the degree of Absentee Shawnee tribal blood for applicants for membership in the tribe. If any Absentee Shawnee blood is claimed by an applicant or member from other rolls or records, the Executive Committee shall evaluate the authenticity of the record on where the claim is made.

B. Changing Blood Degrees-

Once the degree of Absentee Shawnee tribal blood has been recorded for a member on the tribal roll, it shall be changed only when one of the following procedures has been completed:

1. If the change does not involve a change in the 1937 base roll:

a. Whenever a member requests a change in his/her blood degree, the enrollment staff shall research the request. The enrollment staff is also authorized to initiate research into the accuracy of blood degrees shown on the tribal roll.

b. If a determination is made that a member's blood degree has been erroneously computed, a resolution shall be prepared for Executive Committee action documenting the basis for the change and authorizing the enrollment staff to make the change for the member and for all other persons affected by the change.

c. The member requesting the change and all other persons affected by the change shall be notified of the change by the Secretary of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe. Any person whose blood quantum has been changed has the right to appeal pursuant to Section VIII of this ordinance only if the change results in disenrollment.

2. If the change does involve a change in the 1937 base roll:

a. Changes in the blood quantum shown on the base roll can be made only when it is an obvious mathematical error or when requested by the base enrollee or a descendant of a base enrollee. When such a request is received, the enrollment staff shall research the request.

b. If a determination is made that a blood quantum shown on the 1937 base roll is incorrect, a resolution shall be prepared for Executive Committee action requesting the Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve the change and documenting the basis for the requested change. BIA approval is required since the 1937 census roll is a BIA official roll adopted by the Tribe as its base roll.

c. When BIA approval is received, the member requesting the change and all other persons affected by the change shall be notified of the change by the Secretary of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe. Any person affected by such a blood degree change shall have the right to appeal the change pursuant to Section VIII of this ordinance only if the change results in disenrollment.

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XI. Adoption Into Membership

Although the constitution provides that this ordinance may include procedures whereby persons may be adopted into membership in the tribe, the tribe has not yet experienced any circumstances under which there is a desire to implement this option. Therefore, no person may become a member of the tribe through adoption.

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XII. Amendments

Pursuant to Article III, Section 5 of the constitution, this Ordinance may be amended by the General Council by a Referendum as prescribed by ARTICLE IX, Section 2 of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe's Constitution.

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