Committee Explores Bipartisan Solutions for Tribal Autonomy
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 24, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
Today, the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs held a legislative hearing on two bills to increase tribal authority and control over their lands. Subcommittee Chair Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) issued the following statement in response:
"I’m pleased to have had two of my bills heard in our subcommittee today. H.R. 1246, to authorize leases of up to 99 years for land held in trust for federally recognized Indian Tribes and H.R. 1532, to authorize any Indian Tribe to lease, sell, or otherwise transfer real property to which Indian Tribes hold fee title without the consent of the Federal Government.
"In their current forms, both of these laws are regularly amended, which creates a piecemeal approach to governing and provides no certainty for Tribes to plan their futures. Tribal governments already seek to make the best decisions for their members, for their social, cultural, and economic security. We should ensure that Indian lands, whether owned in fee, owned in restricted fee, or held in trust for the benefit of tribes, are able to be used as tribes want to use them. I believe these two bills are a good step forward to ensure that."
Starting in 1984, land transactions with Indians were prohibited unless authorized by Congress. Over time, these restrictions have changed and now generally only apply to land held in trust by the United States for the benefit of individual Indians or Indian tribes. Ensuring tribes can negotiate effectively, and on the same playing field as other landholders, can clear the way for further economic development, especially in rural areas.H.R. 1246 would authorize any federally recognized Indian tribe to lease its trust land for up to 99 years. H.R. 1532 will exempt tribes from limitations imposed by the Indian Non-Intercourse Act on lands the tribe owns outright that have no restrictions on taxation or alienation. Both bills would ensure these economic tools currently available to certain Indian tribes will be available to all federally recognized tribes.
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