indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
National water bill offers a bunch of goodies for Indian Country

Filed Under: Environment | National | Politics | Trust
More on: 114th, barack obama, bia, blackfeet, california, chickasaw, choctaw, dams, drift act, gao, h.r.3079, h.r.387, h.r.4685, house, irrigation, jim costa, john barrasso, kennewick man, kennneth mcdarment, land-into-trust, montana, morongo, nagpra, paul cook, pechanga, s.1822, s.2717, s.438, s.612, scia, senate, tule river, tuolumne
     
   

Blackfeet Nation Chairman Harry Barnes, left, is seen with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Devon Energy Corporation President and CEO David Hager at the Interior Department in Washington, D.C., on November 16, 2016. Photo by U.S. DOI

Congress wrapped up its work for the year by passing a national water bill that contains numerous benefits for Indian Country.

S.612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, includes at least 10 separate Indian bills. There's one repatriation provision, two major infrastructure packages, three land-into-trust acquisitions and four water settlements in the 277-page measure.

"Congress has taken major action on behalf of tribal communities,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the outgoing chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said in a press release.

Barrasso's committee advanced many of the individual components of S.612 during its ever-busy schedule these past two years. Some also saw action in the House.

But putting all of them into one must-pass package ensures success now that lawmakers have gone home for the year. S.612, also known as the WIIN Act, is awaiting signature from President Barack Obama.

"These measures will help protect Native and surrounding communities from flooding, improve aging irrigation systems, clarify water rights, take land into trust for tribes, and protect and improve lives across Indian Country. I urge the president to sign this bill into law," Barrasso said.

Two of Barrasso's more ambitious infrastructure initiatives are among those included in S.612. Dams and irrigation systems in Indian Country will finally see long-overdue attention if the bill becomes law.

S.2717, the Dam Repairs and Improvements for Tribes Act (DRIFT ACT), authorizes at least $229.25 million over six fiscal years to fix aging dams on and near reservations. The amount is not enough to fully clear the $500 million backlog that has amassed at the Bureau of Indian Affairs but it brings significant resources to a problem that affects more than 800 dams across tribal lands.

The second Indian infrastructure bill is S.438, the Irrigation Rehabilitation and Renovation for Indian Tribal Governments and Their Economies Act, or IRRIGATE Act. It authorizes at least $175 million over five fiscal years to fix and maintain irrigation systems in Indian Country.

Again the amount isn't enough to fully address what the Government Accountability Office in 2006 said was a backlog of $850 million. But it's the first time Congress has taken a comprehensive approach to the issue.

Also included in S.612 are three land-into-trust bills. Tribes have been increasingly approaching Congress to help them with acquisitions and transfers that might otherwise take years through other means.

H.R.387, the Economic Development Through Tribal Land Exchange Act, resolves a long-running land dispute in southern California. It authorizes a land swap between the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and a private citizen and places 41 acres in trust for the tribe.

"It actually makes all the parties happy," Rep. Paul Cook (R-California), one of the co-sponsors of the bill, said in June 2015.

S.1822 benefits the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians, also in California. It places about 80 acres of U.S. Forest Service property in trust for the tribe.

"The parcels are located in an area of great cultural and historical significance to the tribe and are contiguous to lands the tribe currently owns in fee simple, known simply as the Murphy Ranch," Rep. Jim Costa (D-California), one of the co-sponsors of H.R.3079, an identical version of the bill, said in July.

Finally, H.R.4685, the Tule River Indian Reservation Land Trust, Health, and Economic Development Act, places about 34 acres of Bureau of Land Management property in trust for the Tule River Tribe in California. The land will help the tribe consolidate its holdings.

"Although this may not seem like a lot of land, every acre of land is important to our tribe," Vice Chairman Kenneth McDarment told the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs in June.

In addition to the infrastructure and land-into-trust components, S.612 ratifies water settlements for the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in California and the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. It also updates a previously approved settlement for five tribes in southern California.

The other significant Indian provision in the WIIN Act is S.1979, the Bring the Ancient One Home Act. The bill returns the remains of the Kennewick Man to five Pacific Northwest tribes.

Government Accountability Office Report -- Indian Irrigation Projects: Numerous Issues Need to Be Addressed to Improve Project Management and Financial Sustainability:
AbstractHighlights  | Full Report | Text-Only

Related Stories:
Tribes win approval of water deal without so much as a hearing (12/13)
Northwest tribes set to reclaim ancestor known as Ancient One (12/12)
Oklahoma lawmakers push for approval of tribal water rights deal (09/29)
House approves national water bill without #NoDAPL amendment (9/28)
Senate passes water bill but fails to include #NoDAPL amendment (9/15)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: New Oglala Sioux leader encourages youth (1/20)
Native Sun News Today: A new leader for Great Plains tribal group (1/20)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: It's a new era for Indian Country (1/20)
Mark Charles: Decoding Trump's bid to 'Make America Great Again' (1/19)
Lakota Country Times: Another year of big news in Lakota territory (1/19)
Native Sun News Today: DefundDAPL billboard goes up in New York (1/19)
Vi Waln: Let's kick our smoking and tobacco habit in Indian Country (1/19)
Terese Mailhot: Native women care what happens to all our sisters (1/19)
Leonard Peltier remains behind bars as Obama rejects clemency (1/19)
Department of the Army takes the lead on Dakota Access Pipeline (1/18)
Dakota Access executive confirms crude already placed in pipeline (1/18)
Bureau of Indian Affairs releases annual listing of recognized tribes (1/18)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud Sioux Tribe opens homeless shelter (1/18)
Native Sun News Today: Northern Cheyenne focuses on foster care (1/18)
Brandon Ecoffey: Be safe and be prepared as winter hits the plains (1/18)
Disenrollment epidemic affects dozens of tribes across the nation (1/18)
New battle opens as Dakota Access disputes environmental review (1/17)
Judge declines to block publication of Dakota Access Pipeline notice (1/17)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe responds quickly to Dakota Access threat (1/17)
President Obama names first members of Native youth commission (1/17)
Tim Giago: Discovering a love for food at an Indian boarding school (1/17)
Lakota Country Times: Historic decision for Indian Child Welfare Act (1/17)
Native Sun News Today: Pine Ridge teams fight it out at the buzzer (1/17)
Delphine Red Shirt: Tournament is a testament to our Native youth (1/17)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: News for ranchers in the new year (1/17)
Gyasi Ross: Let's divest from DAPL and support Native owned banks (1/17)
Jeffrey Ostler/Nick Estes: Treaties and the Dakota Access Pipeline (1/17)
Mary Annette Pember: Bad River Band takes stand on oil pipeline (1/17)
Steve Russell: Resolutions for tribal leaders and even the Donald (1/17)
Craig Tribal Association celebrates 'historic' trust land acquisition (1/16)
Mark Trahant: Congress moves forward with repeal of Obamacare (1/16)
Native Sun News Today: Northern Cheyenne banker beats the odds (1/16)
James Giago Davies: The real power to defeat the Wasicu pipeline (1/16)
Tiffany Midge: Hollywood needs to stop stereotyping Native people (1/16)
Peter d'Errico: New book connects Native America with Palestine (1/16)
Alaska tribe makes history with approval of trust land application (1/13)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.