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Southwest Legislators with Native Ties to Retire

WASHINGTON – Two more legislators who have supported federal Indian policies have announced their decisions to retire from Congress.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., announced Feb. 10 that he won't seek re-election in 2012. Last year, he helped pass the Cobell settlement, which was part of legislation that included a large water rights settlement for the White Mountain Apache Tribe from his state. In 2004, he helped secure the settlement of water rights for the Gila River Indian Community and the Tohono O'odham Nation. He also previously co-sponsored the Tribal Law and Order Act, and supported the Indian Arts and Craft Act.

On Feb. 18 Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., also announced that he would not run for re-election. He has previously supported energy development for tribes.

Southwest tribal nations will especially have an interest in the turnover, as three Senate seats in their region will be open to new contenders. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, had previously announced her retirement.