House Advances Bill to Reaffirm Tribal Trust Agreements


Date: Dec. 1, 2021
Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), Congresswoman Betty McCollum and Rep. Sharice Davids issued the following statements after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4352, to reaffirm the trust status of tribal trust lands. Cole and McCollum are the original sponsors of the bill.

Introduced in the House every Congress over the last decade, the legislation ensures that existing tribal lands continue to be held in trust by the federal government, reaffirms the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes and removes the uncertainty and ambiguities inherent within the Carcieri v. Salazar opinion.

"More than a decade ago, the Supreme Court issued an opinion that jeopardized ownership of tribal trust lands, questioned the authority of the Secretary of Interior and reversed 75 years of precedent," said Cole. "While a permanent solution is still needed, I am proud the House has supported legislation to keep the promises made to tribes, respect their sovereign status and validate the status of tribal lands acquired in trust by the Secretary of Interior."

"Tribal Nations should not be discriminated against because of their date of federal recognition," McCollum said. "That date has no bearing on their existence as sovereign nations -- and so it should have no bearing on their right to reestablish their homelands. All federally recognized Tribal Nations must have the same right to place land into trust to support the needs of their communities and strengthen their self-governance. This bill affirms congressional intent that the Indian Reorganization Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to place land into trust for all federally recognized Tribal Nations, regardless of their date of recognition. As Members of Congress, it is our duty to honor the federal government's trust and treaty responsibilities, safeguard and empower Native American communities, and protect their treaty rights, lands, assets, and resources now and for generations to come. I thank my colleagues for joining me to finally fix this grave injustice."

"Tribal homelands are a critical piece of tribal sovereignty and self-determination, and we have an obligation as the federal government to uphold our trust and treaty obligations--including taking land into trust. The misguided Supreme Court Carcieri decision made it difficult for Tribal nations to rebuild their tribal homelands, build infrastructure, and grow their economies, but today we have moved towards rectifying that damage," said Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-03). "The bill passed today provides equal treatment to all federally recognized tribes and returns to the original intent of the Indian Reorganization Act. I thank my Congressional Native American Caucus Co-Chair Tom Cole and our Caucus Vice Chair Betty McCollum for leading this effort."