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Panel: Trio of Bills Empower Tribes and Alaska Natives

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 7, 2017 -

Today, the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs held a legislative hearing on a series of bills that would empower Indian and Alaska Native communities to direct their own affairs. They place decision-making power in the hands of those most qualified to make decisions on local issues: the tribes and communities themselves.

H.R. 1074 repeals a previous act of Congress that gave the State of Iowa jurisdiction over offenses by or against Indians on the Sac and Fox Reservation. In doing so, either the Tribe or the federal government would have exclusive jurisdiction under the Major Crimes Act on the Settlement.

“By [passing H.R. 1074], you will promote better law enforcement on our settlement, enhance the safety of our citizens, and strengthen our ability to chart our own course as a sovereign nation,” Treasurer of the Sac and Fox Tribe Lavern Jefferson said.

H.R. 1901 transfers 19.07 acres of federal land in Sitka, Alaska to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium(SEARHC) in order to renovate an outdated hospital.

“This bill today is critical to our efforts to improve the care that we provide at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, Alaska,” President and CEO of SEARHC Charles Clement stated. “We are developing plans to make critically needed upgrades to bring Mt. Edgecumbe into the 21st Century, but we need clear title to the land, currently held by IHS, in order to move forward with these upgrades.”

S. 249 authorizes the Pueblo of Santa Clara and the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo to lease their lands for up to 99 years, rather than the 25 years provided for in the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955. Such amendments have been made numerous times for many tribes in order to promote economic development and tribal self-determination.

“Secretary Zinke supports the principles of self-determination and self-governance, and in line with these principles, believes that tribal governments are in the best position to determine the duration of tribal leases such as these,” Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Bruce Loudermilk said.

All three bills have the support of the Trump Administration. Click here to view full witness testimony.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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