Joe Sexton: BIA's 'ugly' land policies stuck in the 19th century

Joe Sexton

Attorney Joe Sexton calls on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to engage in more consultation before finalizing new rights-of-way regulations:
To those who may not be familiar with federal policy over Indian lands, Tribal Governments and Americans Indian individuals can do very little with their lands without the approval of the BIA’s suffocating bureaucracy. Ironically, these are the same lands that were often promised to Tribes and their people by the federal government for their “exclusive use and benefit” in perpetuity. For anyone who has a basic knowledge of this area of law, the regulatory revisions may seem to be an effort to streamline the mind-numbing bureaucratic processes Tribes and individual Indians must navigate to make even the most basic decisions regarding their lands.

But to those who has seen the absolute ineffective and often times arbitrary nature of the BIA’s bureaucracy when it comes to governing Indian lands, these regulatory revisions do nothing more than perpetuate a resilient legacy of harm to Indian Country through laws, regulations, and executive actions emanating from Washington D.C.

Indeed, it is not hyperbole to contend that the these regulations—combined with the ineffective regulatory regime that presently has a stranglehold on Tribes and individual Indians’ right to make use of their lands—will result in a continued diminishment of Tribal sovereignty and individual Indian landowner rights, which will, in turn, continue the slow but steady federal government’s suffocation of Indian Country.

Get the Story:
Joe Sexton: BIA's Ugly, 19th-Century Attitudes Toward Native Land Rights (Indian Country Today 11/24)

Federal Register Notices:
Rights-of-Way on Indian Land (August 13, 2014)
Rights-of-Way on Indian Land (June 17, 2014)

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