Indian and Insular Affairs Subcommittee Advances Legislative Solutions for Tribes

Longworth House Office Building
Longworth House Office Building

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs held a legislative hearing last week on six bills focused on various solutions related to Indian Country health care, land ownership, and hunting and fishing rights. Subcommittee Chair Harriet Hageman (R-WY) released the following statement in response:

“Today’s hearing covered a wide range of topics and geographical areas, but one common theme runs through all of these bills – federal government’s pace in allowing our tribal communities to use and develop their lands, support their communities, and honor their ancestors is too slow and includes too many regulatory burdens. We must do more to ensure that tribes have access to quality health care and full use of their lands in the fastest and most efficient ways possible.”

The group of bills discussed in the hearing cover a wide variety of issues and are designed to address the needs and requests of multiple tribes across America. 

H.R. 1240 would transfer administrative jurisdiction of approximately 1,600 acres of land from the Army Corps of Engineers in the State of Iowa to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to be held in trust for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. The federal land was seized by Army Corps of Engineers in the 1970’s for the Snyder-Winnebago Oxbow Lake Recreation Complex project.

H.R. 1722 would amend the Grand Ronde Reservation Act to reflect that the Grand Ronde tribe’s extinguishment of land claims against the United States only applies to an 84-acre parcel of land, known as the Thompson Strip. The bill would also add a gaming prohibition on any future land awarded as part of a land claims settlement.

H.R. 2461 would establish an approximate 5,400-acre reservation for the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe from lands that are currently a part of the Navajo Nation’s reservation. The legislation would also ratify a treaty between the San Juan Southern Paiute and Navajo Nation signed in 2000, which contains terms clarifying the sovereign authority of both tribes.

H.R. 2839 would amend the Siletz Reservation Act to provide a process by which the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the State of Oregon may negotiate, amend or replace the current agreement governing the tribe’s hunting, fishing, trapping and animal gathering rights.

H.R. 3371 would place approximately 40 acres of fee land located within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation into restricted fee status for the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The land to be placed into restricted fee would be held in memorial as a sacred site for the approximately 300 Indian people killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 that occurred on a portion of the 40 acres.

H.R. 630 would require all agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services to establish an Urban Indian Organization confer policy. Currently, only the Indian Health Service is statutorily required to confer with Urban Indian Organizations.