Law | Opinion | Politics | Trust

Sen. Akaka and Rep. Cole: Action needed on land-into-trust fix

"In the Carcieri v. Salazar decision, the Supreme Court reversed 75 years of policy and practice. The Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934 authorized the secretary of the Interior to take lands into trust for federally recognized tribes. The court threw all tribes into a tailspin of uncertainty by ruling that the secretary did not have the authority to take land into trust for tribes that were not considered “under federal jurisdiction” when the IRA was enacted. The court did not define “under federal jurisdiction,” and in 1934 there wasn’t an official list of federally recognized tribes. The decision creates two classes of tribes: those that can have land in trust and those that cannot. Such a system promises to be both chaotic and unfair.

So much land has been taken from tribes and tribal members — it is unconscionable to make it harder for tribes to gain back their traditional lands. Congress enacted the IRA to protect tribal homelands and to restore land that was previously seized from the native peoples. It is the responsibility of Congress to act when its intentions are misconstrued by the courts, and so we must act now."

Get the Story:
Sen. Daniel Akaka and Rep. Tom Cole: Resolving Carcieri crisis would create jobs, cost taxpayers nothing (The Hill 11/15)

Supreme Court Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion [Thomas] | Concurrence [Breyer] | Dissent [Stevens] | Concurrence/Dissent [Souter]

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