In September 2002, Cynthia Walsh (webmaster) made a request to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for documents pertaining to tribal enrollment procedures, access to the Long House, and BIA Charter status of federally recognized tribes. Unfortunately, the BIA response was neither timely nor helpful. Below is a copy of the response letter to Ms. Cynthia Walsh from Mr. Franklin Keel, BIA Regional Director. Also, we have provided a link to the letterfrom Mr. Brian Pogue to Chief Gilbert Blue concerning access to the Long House (ie. legible portions of the letter) which is mentioned in the response letter. The entire first paragraph of this letter was redacted without any justification as to why this information could not be released. We have also provided a link to a scanned image of the Hogue letter showing the redactions.
Webmaster is currently appealing this BIA determination.
Ms. Cynthia A.
5313 Alberta NE
Rio Rancho, New Mexico 87144
Dear Ms. Walsh,
This responds to your letter of September 11, 2002, in which you requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) copies of certain documents relating to:
A document created by Ms. Elizabeth Cauliflower when she worked at the Eastern Area BIA Office pertaining to her review and reports of evaluation of the Catawba tribal enrollment procedures. Our response: this document is withheld because it reflected the personal opinion, recommendations, and advice of staff members, and were used to arrive at a final agency Decision. Disclosure of such material would inhibit the open and candid expression of such views in similar future deliberations, could confuse the public as to the official agency position on an issue, and have a detrimental effect on our Decision making process. Therefore, sound grounds exist for withholding the materials pursuant to exemption 5 of the FOIA (5 U.S.C. 552(b)(5)) which permits an agency to withhold "interagency or intra-agency memorandums or letters what [that] would not be available by law to a party...in litigation with the agency." Therefore this document is exempted from manditory release pursuant to exemption number five (5) as "intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than a party in litigation with the agency."
A letter that Mr. Franklin Keel, Director, Eastern Region of the BIA produced at the request of Chief Gilbert Blue regarding denying the right of Catawba Tribal member to access the Catawba governmental building known as the Long House. Our response: There is no information on file in this office regarding the denial of the Catawba tribal members' access to the Catawba governmental building known as the Long House from Mr. Franklin Keel to Chief Gilbert Blue or vice versa. However, enclosed is, copy of communication to Chief Blue from Mr. Brian Hogue pertaining to the Catawba Tribal Executive Committee as well as the Bureau's involvement in internal tribal matters.
A request to know which federally recognized Tribes have been issued BIA Charter status. Response: This request appears to refer to Charters issued pursuant to the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (25 USC 447). This office does not have this information, however, you may wish to inquire at the Bureau of Indian affairs Central Office, at 1849 "C" Street, MS 5312, Washington DC 20240. Nevertheless, we have attached a list published by the Federal Registry listing Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. These tribes have the authority to conduct their own business and have the authority to act based on their Federal Recognition status.
A letter provided to Catawba citizens from the BIA acknowledging the right of the Catawba people to hold governmental elections this summer. Our response: There is no information on file in this office regarding a letter provided to the Catawba citizens from the BIA acknowledging the right of the Catawba people to hold governmental elections this summer. However the enclosed letter addresses the Bureau's involvement in internal tribal matters.
You may appeal this determination of your BIA request by writing to the Freedom of Information act appeals Officer, Office of Information Resources Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, NW, MS 5312-MIB, Washington, D.C. 20240 (43 CFR 2.18). Your appeal must be received no later than 20 workdays after the date of this letter. The appeal should he marked, both on the envelope and the face of the appeal letter, with the legend, "FREEDOM OF INFORMATION Appeal." A copy of your original request and this letter should accompany your appeal, along with any justification you may have for the release of the requested information.