Politics | Trust

Senate approves bill to transfer federal lands to six Nevada tribes






A view of Pyramid Lake on the Pyramid Lake Paiute reservation in Nevada. Photo from Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

The Senate passed S.1436, the Nevada Native Nations Land Act, on Thursday.

The bill transfers various parcels of federal land to six Nevada tribes. The properties will be held in trust and used for housing, cultural, economic development and other purposes.

"Land is lifeblood to Native Americans, and I remain committed to helping tribes restore their homelands,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said in a press release. “I commend the tribes, whose hard work and collaboration made this bill possible. I look forward to continuing our work together to protect the homelands of the first Nevadans.”

“This legislation has been a long time coming. I’m proud the Senate acted to empower Nevada tribal leaders to make key decisions surrounding new housing developments, outdoor recreational areas, and cultural activities. These are the ones who know how best to use it in order to create local jobs and economic development. That’s the way it should be," added Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada).

The biggest chunk of land would go to the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe. About 31,269 acres of Bureau of Land Management property will be transferred if the bill becomes law, according to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

The Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe would secure about 19,094 acres also from the BLM. Another 13,434 acre acres of BLM property would go to the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

The bill transfers about 6,357 acres from the BLM to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. The Summit Lake Paiute Tribe would see about 941 acres.

Finally, the Shoshone Paiute Tribes would receive about 82 acres from the U.S. Forest Service if the measure becomes law.

“The Nevada Native Nations Land Act is an example of the Senate listening to Indian Country and responding,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “Holding these lands in trust for the tribes will better empower them to use their lands as they see fit."

The House version is H.R.2733. It is ready for action on the floor but has not yet been considered.

"I urge the House of Representatives to take up this legislation soon," Barrasso said.

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