Environment | National | Politics

Tribes left out of Republican effort to transfer public land to states






Federal lands will be transferred to the Susanville Indian Rancheria under H.R.2122, a bill that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 22, 2016. Photo from Susanville Indian Rancheria

The 2016 Republican Party platform includes a call to transfer "certain" federal lands to states but tribes aren't mentioned at all.

The omission has at least one tribal leader in California concerned. Steve Stallings, a council member for the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, told The Palm Springs Desert Sun that the proposal would hurt Indian interests.

“I don’t think you’ll find any tribe or major tribal organization that would support this,” Stallings, who also serves as chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, told the paper.

Tribes in California and other Western states have documented claims to lands currently managed by federal agencies. But the GOP platform doesn't say whether Indian Country should have a role in the process.

"The residents of state and local communities know best how to protect the land where they work and live," the platform reads. "They practice boots-on-the-ground conservation in their states every day."

Republican lawmakers from Western states have often left out tribes in their push to acquire certain public lands. But that hasn't entirely been the case in California, where two bills pending in the 114th Congress would transfer federal properties to the Tule River Tribe and the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians. Both H.R.4685, and H.R.3079 were introduced by GOP members of Congress.

A bill that transfers 300 acres of federal land to the Susanville Indian Rancheria was signed into law in June. H.R.2212 was introduced by a Republican lawmaker and had bipartisan support.

In addition to the public lands proposal, Republicans want Congress to amend the Antiquities Act of 1906 to limit the authority of the president to declare national monuments and national parks. Again, tribes were left out -- only states are to be vested with "approval" power for new designations, according to the GOP platform.

Tribes in recent years have almost always been at the table when new monuments and parks have been declared.

Read More on the Story:
Tribes watch GOP effort to wrest control of federal land (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 8/16)
Agua chairman Jeff Grubbe endorses Hillary Clinton (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 7/28)

Republican Party Platform Documents:
2016: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2012: Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians | 2008: Supporting Native American Communities | 2004: Native Americans | 2000: Native Americans