The United South and Eastern Tribes are opening their Impact Week 2019 meeting Monday morning. The Burnurwurbskek drum group is here from Maine. USET is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year!Posted by Indianz.Com on Monday, March 4, 2019
Posting of the colors as the United South and Eastern Tribes opens its Impact Week 2019 meeting in the Washington DC area. USET represents tribes from Maine to Florida to Texas.Posted by Indianz.Com on Monday, March 4, 2019
In reality, only about 32,000 acres were placed in trust in 2018 -- much lower than the figure he gave to USET. According to the printed report, a copy of which was reviewed by Indianz.Com, the BIA approved 304 applications that year. The much larger figure, it turns out, was from 2017. According to the printed report, the BIA approved 243 applications for nearly 83,000 acres that year. "I'm very comfortable that this administration is comfortable with the fee-to-trust process," LaCounte, a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians who works at the BIA's central office in D.C., told tribes during his presentation. "I too had some anxiety but I don't any more. I'm feeling good about it." USET leaders weren't sharing the sentiment. Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe said the BIA region that serves almost every member of the organization remains understaffed and takes far too long to make land-into-trust decisions that should otherwise be routine. "We had someone who was brought in a few years back and then they were taken away," Andrews-Maltais said of an employee who was once assigned to land-into-trust at the Eastern regional office in Nashville, Tennessee.
Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney tells United South & Eastern Tribes that controversial land-into-trust rules are dead. “After reviewing the comments & hearing from Indian Country, the department has determined it will not propose new regulations at this time.” pic.twitter.com/IGr5ibYHJh— indianz.com (@indianz) March 4, 2019
Unlike other parts of Indian Country, where reservation offices are common, the BIA only maintains three agencies in the Eastern region -- none of them are in the Northeast. "We’ve had fee-to-trust trust that takes forever to go in -- mandatory fee to trust," added Andrews-Maltais, referring to situations in which the BIA is mandated, by law, to approve a particular application. "It took over a year to get that mandatory done." Lance Gumbs, a trustee for the Shinnecock Nation, expressed similar concerns. The BIA has failed to take into account the unique manner in which his tribe secured its lands, long before the United States became a government, he said. “We have restricted fee lands, not trust lands," said Gumbs, describing a legal situation that also impacts other tribes that belong to USET. “There has to be some kind of mechanism to look at that." Without a dedicated process, Gumbs said his people are suffering, unable to move forward with economic development and other types of projects on their homelands in New York state. The tribe gained formal recognition of its status in 2010. "It is impacting us greatly," Gumbs told Sweeney. "It really is hindering everything." The only welcome news the Trump administration seemed to provide was the death of controversial changes to the land-into-trust process. Sweeney confirmed that the Fee-to-Trust Regulations (25 CFR 151) are off the table. “After reviewing the comments and hearing from Indian Country, the department has determined it will not propose new regulations at this time," said Sweeney, relaying the same message a higher-ranking official gave to tribes just a couple of weeks ago. USET will continue their meeting all week, with some sessions taking place in Arlington and others in Washington, D.C., not far from the U.S. Capitol. The organization will be joining with the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes for a reception on Capitol Hill on Wednesday evening, another sign of its efforts to work across regional boundaries.
Bureau of Indian Affairs Director Darryl LaCounte is here to address fears about the Trump administration and the land-into-trust process. “I too had some anxiety but I don’t any more. I’m feeling good about it,” LaCounte tells the United South and Eastern Tribes. @USETINC pic.twitter.com/sfypDJ1A7m— indianz.com (@indianz) March 4, 2019
VIDEO: Rep. Deb Haaland addresses the United South and Eastern Tribes (March 4, 2019)