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Opinion: Clear land-into-trust standard needed for Carcieri fix

Filed Under: Opinion | Trust
More on: bia, carcieri, ira, land-into-trust, supreme court

"Retiring Senator Daniel Akaka (D–HI) has indicated, with the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) and the Obama Administration, that he intends to push his “Carcieri Fix” (S. 676) during the lame-duck session of Congress. The bill would give the Secretary of the Interior largely unbridled discretion to turn over tens of thousands of acres of private land to Indian tribes.

Before giving serious consideration to a Carcieri Fix, Congress should establish clear and specific standards, including elucidating what constitutes a legitimate “tribal need,” in order to guide the land trust decisions made by those executive branch officials acting under a grant of congressional authority.

The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA), sometimes known as the Indian New Deal, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to acquire land and hold it in trust “for the purpose of providing land for Indians.” The IRA secured certain rights for Native Americans by reversing the privatization of communal holdings of American Indian tribes (which had occurred under the Dawes Act of 1887, which was designed to assimilate Indians into American society by breaking up reservations into private property that was “allotted” to individual Native Americans) and by restoring to those tribes the management of their assets, which consisted mostly of land.

The IRA was designed to repair the social fabric of many of the tribes that was seriously frayed once their reservations were dismantled and to restore their economic well-being. Additionally, many of the individual Native Americans who received allotments of land under the Dawes Act fell into poverty and eventually lost their land, which exacerbated the problem."

Get the Story:
John Malcolm: Indian Tribal Lands and the Carcieri Fix (The Heritage Foundation 12/5)

Related Stories:
Land-into-trust fix remains in limbo as end of year approaches (12/4)
Sen. Reid cites continuing negotiations for a land-into-trust fix (11/27)
Land-into-trust fix could come up for consideration in Senate (11/26)
NCAI optimistic on a land-into-trust fix, VAWA during lame-duck (11/09)
Aide to Sen. Akaka confident on support for a land-into-trust fix (10/25)
Sen. Akaka to push land-into-trust fix after November election (10/12)

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