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WASHINGTON D.C.-After gathering input from tribal leaders across the country, Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Chairman Don Young and Ranking Member Dan Boren of Oklahoma have introduced H.R. 3532, The American Indian Empowerment Act of 2011. This bipartisan piece of legislation will enhance the authority Americaâ€™s tribes have wanted over their lands.
Specifically, this bill allows a tribe to request that the title to its tribal land be taken out of trust and conveyed to the tribe while also ensuring such lands retain their “Indian Country” status.
Additionally, H.R. 3532 would permit a tribe to lease its lands without having to gain approval from the Secretary of the Interior. Lastly, this legislation authorizes a tribe to pass tribal laws that preempt applicable federal laws or regulations governing the tribe’s land.
“For far too long, the Federal Government has stood in the way of our Native people instead of empowering them,” said Rep. Young. “This bill is going to change that by empowering America’s first people to use their lands the way they see fit. For those who say this legislation is too ‘radical’, I say that that’s exactly what is needed. America’s tribes are sitting on valuable lands that contain countless resources, yet every time they try to develop that land, the Federal Government is standing in their way playing big brother. I look forward to working with Ranking Member Boren to pass this important piece of legislation.”
“I am pleased to work with Chairman Young on this bill, which would bring more sovereignty to tribes across the country,” said Rep. Boren. “The bill would strengthen the ability of our Native people to use their land as they choose, transferring responsibility from the Federal government to the people. I look forward to working with Chairman Young and the rest of the subcommittee to pass this bill and ensure our promises to all Native people are kept. ”