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Senate approves ABQ Indian School land transfer bill

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WASHINGTON – The Senate on Oct. 6 approved a bipartisan bill written by U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici to place the remaining 18 acres of the old Albuquerque Indian School property into trust for future economic development by 19 New Mexico pueblos.

The Senate passed the Albuquerque Indian Schools Act (S. 1193) by unanimous consent. The measure would place two parcels of federal land on 12th Street into trust to benefit the pueblos. The bill, cosponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, still requires approval in the House of Representatives before it can become law.

“Time is short in this Congress, but we will work to gain final passage. This bill truly represents an economic opportunity for the pueblos. This property offers a chance for them to build on their past successes and in the end their work will mean a brighter economic future for all the pueblos and their people,” said Domenici, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

“New Mexico’s pueblos can put this land to very good use, creating jobs and advancing educational and cultural efforts,” Bingaman said. “I hope we can get this measure enacted this year.”

Transfer of the two parcels – 12.38 acres and 5.92 acres – would result in the second such transfer from the old Albuquerque Indian School, which was requested by the pueblos in 2003. Under S. 1193, the land would be taken into trust by the Interior Department and made available for the “educational, health, cultural, business or economic development purposes of the 19 pueblos.” The bill also prohibits gaming on the land, which is situated near downtown and Old Town and could serve purposes related to tourism, conferences and tribal business for both areas.

Following a 1981 request, Congress originally placed 44 acres of Indian School property, located north of I-40, into trust for the pueblos. Since then, the acreage has been developed by the pueblos and is home to two prominent Interior office buildings that house the BIA Southwest Regional Office, the National BIA Training Center and the BIA Data Center.

The 19 New Mexico pueblos that will benefit from this bill include: Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Sandia, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia and Zuni.