On November 19, the United South and Eastern Tribes announced its strong urging for Congress to pass a Carcieri fix, one week after retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, announced during the 69th National Congress of American Indians convention that he would push for a Carcieri fix during the lame duck session of Congress.
In a statement released by Brian Patterson, president of USET and Earl Barbry, chairman, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, USET raised the issue of tribal lands and the integral role it plays in communities and the economy of Indian country.
“The economy and jobs, during the election season, dominated the national debate with many Americans going to the polls motivated by the same questions and concerns: How can we, as a nation, best provide for our families and create more and better opportunities for our children? Tribal nations and their citizens ask these same questions. And while much is uncertain, one thing is clear: tribal lands are integral to our communities and our economies, and now and forever, will provide the key to assuring the future success of our cultures, our families, and our children,” the release stated. “That is why, as Members of Congress return to Washington and set their priorities for the lame duck session, the ‘Carcieri Fix’ must top the agenda.”
The USET release pointed out how since the Carcieri decision the consequences have “spread like a cancer to all tribes through the Supreme Court’s decision in Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish v. Patchak.” In that case, the Court overturned years of jurisprudence that protected tribal lands once they were in trust—a case based on a Carcieri challenge.
“There is a real opportunity to secure the ‘Carcieri Fix’ in the Congressional lame duck session. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has put this legislation on his list of uncompleted items for this Congress that should be addressed in the lame duck. This is a welcome development,” according to the release.
USET even calls attention to a fix that should be non-controversial, while asking leaders from both sides of the aisle to show “leadership in supporting a measure that would work to strengthen all of Indian country.”
“From a moral standpoint, all tribes should be treated the same. They should be accorded like respect for their sovereignty and they should have an equal right to add to their tribal land base,” the release states. “From a practical standpoint, intentionally or not, by adding conditions to the Fix, Indian country can never truly unite around legislation that protects and strengthens the sovereignty of some tribes while undermining and eroding it for others.”