BIA approves United Keetoowah Band land-into-trust bid

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has approved a land-into-trust application for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma.

The tribe submitted its application for 76 acres in June 2004. During the Bush administration, the BIA ruled against the tribe twice before Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk ordered a new look at the application.

In a letter yesterday, the BIA ruled that the tribe can follow the land-into-trust process pursuant to the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. The tribe organized its current government under the law in 1950.

The BIA also rejected claims by the Cherokee Nation that approval of the application would create jurisdictional conflicts. Echo Hawk, in prior rulings, determined that the potential conflicts would not be significant.

"The BIA has already rejected this particular application twice before, because the Cherokee nation has sole jurisdiction and treaty rights within its boundaries," Cherokee Chief Chad Smith said in a statement. "We are confident this decision by a BIA employee will be found arbitrary and a violation of precedent and law. It will be overturned by the courts."

Get the Story:
Keetoowahs can place land into trust (AP 5/24)
BIA says Keetoowahs can place land into trust; Cherokee Nation to appeal (AP 5/24)

Relevant Documents:
May 24, 2011, Decision | September 10, 2010, Decision

Related Stories:
United Keetoowah Band hopeful for BIA land-into-trust approval (9/23)
Echo Hawk affirms UKB's right to follow land-into-trust process (09/13)
BIA holds off on Keetoowah Band land-into-trust (6/26)

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