Opinion: Bill introduces Indian Country to the global economy

"In tribal communities in Louisiana and across the country, interest is growing in the unique and burgeoning relationship between Indian Country and the Republic of Turkey, a relationship that has culminated with the introduction in Congress of the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Act of 2011, H.R. 2362. This legislation has the potential to jumpstart tribal economies and raise Indian Country’s international profile.

H.R. 2362, introduced by the only enrolled tribal member of Congress, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), is intended to facilitate U.S. trade with Turkey and boost tribal economies. Economic development on tribal land is currently hampered by a leasing system that requires lease applications to go through multiple reviews–tribal and federal–meaning that even simple leases that could be concluded in as little as six days on private land cantake up to six years on tribal trust land. This and other disadvantages discourage outside companies unfamiliar with federal trust laws from engaging with individual tribes.

The legislation directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish a demonstration program to include up to six tribes who intend to engage in economic development with Turkish companies while managing their own leasing regulations. Once the Secretary approves those regulations, the selected tribes would be authorized to operate under those regulations without requiring Federal approval for individual agreements. These reforms have been in place in the Navajo Nation since 2000 and have helped spur development on the Navajo reservation. Now we have the opportunity to foster similar success stories across Indian Country, without spending taxpayer dollars."

Get the Story:
Brenda Wambsgans Lintinger and G. Lincoln McCurdy: Indian trade bill would create more economic opportunity (The Lafayette Advertiser 10/1)

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