Indian Affairs Approves Colville Confederated Tribes’ Leasing Regulations Under HEARTH Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced that it has approved business leasing regulations submitted by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, a federally recognized tribe in Washington State, under the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership (HEARTH) Act of 2012.

The approval establishes the tribes’ authority to govern and manage leasing of their Indian lands without additional BIA review or secretarial approval. The Bureau anticipates the action will enable Colville to expand its opportunities for economic development and business activities.

“Today’s announcement provides Colville tribal leaders greater flexibility and easier approval of its business leasing regulations under the HEARTH Act,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “Because of the Act’s innovative way for tribal governments to have greater control over the use of their trust lands, the list of tribal nations with approved leasing regulations continues to grow. We remain committed to fulfilling the HEARTH Act’s mandate to support tribal self-determination and sovereignty, and encourage those tribes that are looking at the HEARTH Act for their benefit to submit applications.”

The HEARTH Act made a voluntary alternative land-leasing process available to federally recognized tribes by amending the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955 (25 U.S.C. 415). It established the authority of those tribes to develop and implement their laws governing the long-term leasing of Indian trust lands for agricultural, business, renewable (solar and wind) energy, residential, and other purposes.

Under HEARTH, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to approve tribal regulations if they are consistent with the Department’s leasing regulations and provide for an environmental review process that meets requirements set forth in the Act. Once a tribe’s HEARTH application is approved, it is authorized to negotiate and enter into leases without further approvals by the Secretary through the BIA.

Tribes may submit HEARTH applications to the Bureau for agricultural and business leases of tribal trust lands for a primary term of 25 years and up to two renewal terms of 25 years each. Leases of tribal trust lands for residential, recreational, religious or educational purposes may be executed for a primary term of up to 75 years.