There were several comments on details of this provision. One commenter suggested that tribal registration be used as an identifier for Native Americans. The suggestion is consistent with long-standing DOT guidance; however this section of the regulation is meant to set out general rules applicable to all determinations of group membership, not to enumerate means of making the determination for specific groups. The same commenter suggested that if someone knowingly misrepresents himself as a group member, he should not be given further consideration for eligibility. Misrepresentation of any kind on an application is a serious matter. Indeed, misrepresentation of material facts in an application can be grounds for debarment or even criminal prosecution. While it would certainly be appropriate for recipients to take action against someone who so misrepresented himself, the regulatory text on group membership is not the place to make a general point about the consequences of misrepresentation.
Some commenters wanted further definition of what ``a long period of time'' means. We believe it would be counterproductive to designate a number of years that would apply in all cases, since circumstances are likely to differ. The point is to avoid ``certification conversions'' in which an individual suddenly discovers, not long before the application process, ancestry or culture with which he previously has had little involvement.
We are adopting the SNPRM provision without substantive change.