Politics | Trust

Congress passes long-awaited land bills for two tribes in Oregon






Members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation

Land bills for two Oregon tribes are on their way to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Congress gave final approval to S.817 and S.818 on Tuesday. The bills help Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde restore their homelands.

“Congress is working on behalf of tribes,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said in a press release. “These pieces of legislation, along with the others we have passed during the 114th Congress, demonstrate our continued commitment to increased tribal self-determination and sovereignty.”

Once S.817 is signed into law, any land acquired by the Siletz Tribes within the original 1855 Coast Reservation will be considered a part of the current reservation.

For Grande Ronde, S.818 reduces the number of steps required for land to be acquired in trust and declared a part of its reservation.

"This legislation will enable the Tribe to more efficiently move the land it owns into reservation status, which is historically a very complex and time-consuming process," Chairman Reyn Leno said in a story posted by Smoke Signals, the tribe's news outlet.

Both tribes have been lobbying for the legislation for years. They could be the last significant Indian bills to clear the 114th Congress before lawmakers head home for the year, possibly by the end of this week.

The 115th Congress will convene in January 2017, starting a whole new legislative process.

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