Office of U.S. Representative Betty McCollum (DFL-MN-4)
Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4352 to amend the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, reaffirming the authority of the Secretary of Interior to take land into trust for all federally recognized Indian tribes, regardless of the date of their recognition. In the 2009 Carcieri v. Salazar decision, the Supreme Court ruled that only tribes federally recognized prior to 1934 could have land placed into trust. This decision created a discriminatory two-tier system for the Department of the Interior’s fee-to-trust process, and has resulted in inequality, uncertainty, and costly litigation. Since the 2009 opinion, members in both chambers of Congress have introduced bipartisan legislation to restore the original intent of the Indian Reorganization Act.
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04), who introduced H.R. 4352, released the following statement:
“Tribal nations should not be discriminated against because of their date of federal recognition,” McCollum said. “That date has no bearing on their existence as sovereign nations – and so it should have no bearing on their right to reestablish their homelands. All federally recognized Tribal Nations must have the same right to place land into trust to support the needs of their communities and strengthen their self-governance. This bill affirms congressional intent that the Indian Reorganization Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to place land into trust for all federally recognized Tribal nations, regardless of their date of recognition. As Members of Congress, it is our duty to honor the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities, safeguard and empower Native American communities, and protect their treaty rights, lands, assets, and resources now and for generations to come. I thank my colleagues for joining me to finally fix this grave injustice.”
The President of the National Congress of American Indians, Ms. Fawn Sharp, added:
“Carcieri has effectively created two classes of tribal nations, and has overburdened tribal, federal, and state resources by generating unnecessary conflict over the restoration and retention of tribal homelands and consequently impeded economic development. The National Congress of American Indians strongly urges Congress to end this turmoil by enacting a congressional fix to the Indian Reorganization Act which reaffirms the Secretary of the Interior’s authority to restore tribal homelands for all federally recognized tribal nations.”
Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation and the President of the United South and Eastern Tribes – USET – added his support, saying:
“Homelands are essential to exercising tribal government authority, protecting our cultural identity, and foundational to growing our economies. After decades of federal efforts to diminish our homelands, placing land into trust is a critical aspect of the federal government’s trust and treaty obligations and righting these historical wrongs.”
Chairman Tom Wooten of the Samish Indian Nation in Washington state supports this bill, saying:
“H.R. 4352 will help right past wrongs by the Department of the Interior and enable the Samish Indian Nation to move forward in reestablishing our homeland and rebuilding our community. In 2018, the Interior Department approved the Tribe's trust land application for 6.7 acres after an over 9-year process to complete a ‘Carcieri’ analysis. The Department’s decision is tied up in endless litigation based upon ‘Carcieri.’ This bill will help stop frivolous litigation and ensure that no other tribe has to go through what we went through.”
Full text of H.R. 4352 can be found here.