Attorney Fees_Indian Rights

To assist Federally Recognized Tribes in protecting their treaty rights and other rights established through Executive Order or court action.

Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Cases funded from this program may involve environmental damage claims; water rights negotiation/litigation; boundary disputes; treaty hunting, fishing, and gathering rights; and off-reservation rights.

Agency - Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior protects and provides access to the Nation's natural and cultural heritage, including responsibilities to Indian tribes and island communities. Departmental goals include resource protection and usage, overseeing recreational opportunities, serving communities and excellence in management.

Office - Applications may be filed with the local Bureau of Indian Affairs agency office as listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Program Accomplishments


Uses and Use Restrictions

These funds are used to provide assistance to tribes to obtain legal representation in situations where the United States cannot represent them as authorized in 25 U.S.C.


The funds are distributed in accordance with regulations governing the expenditure of appropriated funds for the fees of private attorneys representing tribes, and the eligibility requirements are found in 25 U.S.C.


Bureau policy determines the attorney fee hourly rates.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Federally Recognized Indian Tribes and their members.


Initial application must be accompanied by a resolution of the governing body of the Indian tribe.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Informal preapplication conference is recommended.

Technical assistance in preparing the application is available upon request.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Initial applications must contain the information specified in 25 CFR 89. Completed applications should be submitted to the local Bureau of Indian Affairs agency office listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Award Procedures

Awards are approved at the Headquarters level.




Public Law 97-394, 96 Stat. 1976, 28 U.S.C. 2415; Indian Claims Limitation Act of 1982; Public Law 98-250; Public Law 96- 487, 94 Stat. 2371, 16 U.S.C. 3101; Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act; Public Law 92-203, 106 Stat. 2112-2125, 43 U.S.C. 1601; Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; Public Law 103-399; Indian Lands Open Dump Cleanup Act of 1994, 108 Stat. 4164.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Applications will be processed within 90 days.


An unsuccessful applicant may request an informal conference with the deciding official.


New application required each year.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements


Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Awards are made on an annual basis and the funds remain available until expended for the legal services specified in the contractor/grantee application. Payments are made as billings are received. The timing of payments will be negotiated with the grantee.

Post Assistance Requirements




For awards made to Tribes under this Program, grantees/contractors are responsible for obtaining audits. All nonfederal entities that expend $500,000 or more of Federal awards in a year ($300,000 for fiscal year ending on or before December 30, 2003) are required to obtain an annual audit in accordance with the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996 (31 U.S.C. 7501 et. seq.) and OMB Circular A-133. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 (for fiscal years ending after December 1, 2003) a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in OMB Circular A-133. For payments made directly by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to attorneys on behalf of a Tribe, no audit is required.


Financial records must be retained by Tribes for three years from the date of submission of the single audit report. Procurement records must be retained for three years from the date of final payment. Property records must be retained for three years from the date of disposition, replacement, or transfer. Records pertaining to any litigation, audit exceptions or claims must be retained until the dispute has been resolved. Records maintained by the attorneys are subject to provisions of the contract with the Tribe.

Financial Information

Account Identification



FY 07 $1,826,000; FY 08 est $1,764,000; and FY 09 est not available.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$10,000 to $100,000; $60,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

25 CFR 89.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Applications may be filed with the local Bureau of Indian Affairs agency office as listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office

Office of Trust Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1849 C Street N.W., MS 4620 MIB, Washington, DC 20240. Contact: Vicki Forrest. Telephone: (202) 208-5831.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Cases must first have been turned down by the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior Office of the Solicitor, and then can be submitted for review to the Attorney Review Committee for a recommendation to the Assistant Secretary for approval.

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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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