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Rep. Don Young vows quick action on tribal tourism and Eastern Cherokee bills






Indianz.Com SoundCloud: House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3477 and H.R. 3599 February 24 2016

The House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs heard favorable testimony on two tribal bills on Wednesday afternoon.

Both H.R.3477, the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act, and H.R.3599, the Eastern Band Cherokee Historic Lands Reacquisition Act, saw strong support from tribal witnesses, lawmakers and the Obama administration. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the chairman of the subcommittee, said he will work to get them passed before the end of the 114th Congress this year.

"We're going to move these bills as rapidly as possible," Young said at the conclusion of the hearing.


A view of Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. The "Sky City" village is a well-known and popular tourist attraction. Photo from Sky City Casino Hotel / Facebook

The NATIVE Act authorizes the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Interior to include tribes and tribal organizations in their management plans and tourism initiatives. Supporters noted that the bill won't require the government to spend any new funds yet the effort would boost economic development in Indian Country.

"Indian Country tourism is already making significant contributions to the U.S. economy, and those contributions are growing each year," said Sherry L. Rupert, the president of the board of directors for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. "H.R. 3477 will accelerate that economic development success through the expansion of cultural and heritage tourism."


The Cherokee people continue to maintain ties to their ancestral lands in Tennessee. Photo from Sequoyah Birthplace Museum / Facebook

The Eastern Band Cherokee Historic Lands Reacquisition Act places about 96 acres of land and easements in trust for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The properties are located at the Tellico Reservoir in Tennessee and include significant sites such as the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and the grave of Oconostota, the First Beloved Man of the Cherokee people from 1775 to 1781.

"This bill celebrates not only a time period in Cherokee history when we lived in Tennessee but also the return of the Cherokee people -- as a modern, living people, with a living culture and language, and traditions that have survived from ancient times -- back to Tennessee," said Principal Chief Patrick Lambert.

Committee Notice:
Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3477 and H.R. 3599 (February 24, 2016)

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Witnesses for hearing on tribal tourism, Eastern Cherokee bills (2/23)
House panel takes up tribal tourism and Eastern Cherokee bills (2/18)