East Bay Ohlone Tribe's Struggle for Federal Recognition

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Charlene Nijmeh, chair of the Muwekma Ohlone tribe in the Bay Area, stands for a portrait next to Strawberry Creek on the UC Berkeley campus on Friday, November 27, 2020 in Berkeley, Calif. (Photo By Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

A recent DNA analysis has found that the federally unrecognized  Muwekma Ohlone Tribe has been in the Bay Area for at least 2,000 years. The evidence bolsters the tribe’s decades-long case to reinstate their federal recognition which they lost, along with dozens of other California Indian tribes, in the 1920s. Tribal leaders say recognition is a necessary first step for the Muwekma Ohlone to establish a reservation. But tribal law experts say the process for gaining federal recognition is complicated and political. We’ll talk about why some tribes are– or are not – recognized, what federal recognition means for them, and the current efforts from tribes such as the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe to gain recognition.

Guests:

Lauren van Schilfgaarde, director of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Legal Development Clinic, UCLA

Charlene Nijmeh, chairwoman, Muwekma Ohlone Tribe

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