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Indian Republicans associated with Donald Trump seek trust land changes

Filed Under: Business | Environment | National | Politics
More on: don young, donald trump, energy, hearth act, markwayne mullin, ross swimmer
     
   

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, serves as chairman of Republican president-elect Donald Trump's Native American Coalition. Photo by Rep. Markwayne Mullin

Two tribal citizens who are advising Republican president-elect Donald Trump want to give tribes more control over their lands but details remain murky, Reuters reports.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), a member of the Cherokee Nation, serves as chairman of Trump's Native American Coalition. He believes Indian lands should not be treated the same as public lands.

"As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country," Mullin told Reuters.

Ross Swimmer, who is also Cherokee, is serving as co-chair of the coalition. He thinks there are ways to ensure that Indian lands don't fall out of Indian control.

"It has to be done with an eye toward protecting sovereignty," Swimmer, who ran the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians during the George W. Bush administration and the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Reagan years, told Reuters.

According to Reuters, the two Republicans did not offer specifics on how they would achieve the goal. But their idea sounds similar to legislation advanced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) that would have allowed tribes to take their land out of trust and place it in restricted fee status in order to reduce federal oversight.

Young has introduced his bill, the American Indian Empowerment Act, repeatedly over the past three sessions of Congress but it has not gained much traction due to lack of widespread support in Indian Country.

Historically, Republican efforts to reform the federal-tribal trust relationship have not proven successful. In 2005, a GOP-controlled Congress passed a national energy bill that contained provisions to ease federal oversight of tribal energy development.

Yet no tribe has ever taken advantage of a tribal energy resource agreement due to numerous legal and policy concerns.

On the other hand, tribes have quickly embraced the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act (HEARTH Act). The law, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in July 2012, eases federal oversight over housing, business and related development in Indian Country.

Read More on the Story:
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