Law | Trust

Bureau of Indian Affairs delays changes to land-into-trust process

Former National Congress of American Indian President Joe Garcia, center left, shakes hands with Larry Roberts, the acting head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at NCAI's executive council winter session in Washington, D.C., on February 22, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com

Some technical changes to the land-into-trust process at the Bureau of Indian Affairs are being tweaked in response to comments from tribes.

An interim rule regarding title evidence was due to take effect on April 15. But it will be delayed until May 16 while the BIA addresses tribal concerns, according to a notice that was published in the Federal Register on Friday.

Under the rule, tribes will no longer have to demonstrate that their property meets the Standards for the Preparation of Title Evidence in Land Acquisitions by the United States issued by the Department of Justice. Instead, they will submit a more streamlined set of documents to the BIA.

"It's just a technical amendment," Larry Roberts, the head of the BIA, told tribal leaders in February. "But as a practical matter it should make a huge difference for your realty departments and your resources. We're basically proposing common sense approaches to title."

Some tribes, however, raised questions about the language in the rule. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon, for example, said some parts were "ambiguous" while Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico asked for more clarification about certain aspects, such as whether title insurance policies will still be required.

"The BIA has determined that technical revisions to the rule may be appropriate and is therefore delaying the effective date of the rule for 30 days, during which time BIA will publish a final rule with technical revisions," Roberts wrote in the notice.

Federal Register Notices:
Title Evidence for Trust Land Acquisitions (April 15, 2016)
Title Evidence for Trust Land Acquisitions (March 1, 2016)

Related Stories:
Bureau of Indian Affairs within reach of land-into-trust milestone (03/21)
Bureau of Indian Affairs in final push as Obama era nears its end (03/01)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians winter session:A Final Push at BIA (2/23)

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