Congress clears bill to help Miami Nation with outdated charter


Leaders of the Miami Nation of Oklahoma, from left to right: First Councilperson Donya Williams, Second Councilperson Scott Willard, Chief Doug Lankford, Secretary-Treasurer Sarah Lawson and Second Chief Dustin Olds. Photo from Miami Nation

A bill to help the Miami Nation of Oklahoma resolve a longstanding governance issue cleared the 114th Congress this week.

The tribe's corporate charter was approved in 1940 as part of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. The document is outdated but changing it is nearly impossible because the process involves several steps at the tribal and federal level.

H.R.533 helps the tribe avoid the bureaucracy by simply revoking the charter. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Wednesday.

“The best solutions for Indian Country, come from Indian Country,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said in a press release. “The Miami Tribe sought this legislation to facilitate their economic development. I'm pleased Congress responded and passed this expeditiously. I urge the President to sign this bill into law as soon as possible.”

The House passed the bill by a voice vote earlier this month. It can now be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

“Their efforts in passing this common sense legislation are a testament to their dedication to Indian Country and all of Oklahoma,” Chief Douglas Lankford said in a press release, referring to Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), the sponsor of H.R.533, and Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), the sponsor of an identical measure S.321.

“They have proven that Congress does work and is working for the advancement of Indian Country," added Chief Lankford, who is not related to the state's freshman senator. "The Miami Tribe thanks them for their work and their friendship.”

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