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Politics
Probate reform bill ready for Bush's signature


A bill aimed at cleaning up the probate of Indian lands while reducing fractionation is ready for President Bush's signature.

The House passed S.1721, the American Indian Probate Reform Act yesterday. Lawmakers said it will help individual Indians and tribes keep track of their land.

"It will provide meaningful tools to individual Indian land owners, tribes, and the Department of the Interior to address the alarming fractionation of Indian trust lands," said Rep. Richard Pombo (R-California), chairman of the House Resources Committee.

S.1721 was sponsored by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colorado). As chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he held several hearings on the bill in order to gain consensus on some of its controversial provisions, including who can inherit trust land. The version passed makes room for lineal descendants who may or may not qualify for tribal membership.

The bill seeks to clear the air by providing a uniform probate code for all Indian lands, regardless of state. It encourages landowners to write wills and consolidate ownership of fractionated properties.

S.1721 passed the Senate in June.

Get the Bill:
S.1721

Relevant Links:
Indian Land Tenure Foundation - http://www.indianlandtenure.org
Indian Land Working Group - http://www.ilwg.net
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

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