WASHINGTON - This month the Obama administration defined its position on the
Supreme Court's decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. The ruling restricts the
Interior Department's ability to take land into trust for tribes that were
federally recognized after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
During a media conference call November 4, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
said "There is a problem here that has to be fixed." That was expanded upon by
Kim Teehee, White House senior policy advisor for Native American Affairs. She
said the administration supports legislation to change the ruling and allow land
into trust consideration for all tribes regardless of their date of recognition.
On November 5, the administration followed up at a hearing of the House Natural
Resources Committee. Donald Laverdure, deputy assistant secretary of Indian
affairs at Interior, represented the administration and testified that his
department supports two bills under consideration. Both would amend the Indian
Reorganization Act of 1934 and reaffirm the authority of the Interior Secretary
to take land into trust for tribes. The bills are H.R. 3742, sponsored by Rep.
Dale Kildee, D-Mich., and H.R. 3697, sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla..
Laverdure said "The department was, and continues to be, disappointed in the
court's ruling in the Carcieri case. The decision was not consistent with the
longstanding policy and practice of the United States to assist all tribes in
establishing and protecting a land base sufficient to allow them to provide for
the health, welfare, and safety of tribal members, and in treating tribes alike
regardless of the date of acknowledgment."
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