Thursday, November 12, 2009


Obama administration knocks Carcieri ruling
House comes closer to making a fix
By Rob Capriccioso

Story Published: Nov 12, 2009

Story Updated: Nov 6, 2009

WASHINGTON – It took a few months for Obama officials to take a clear public stand on the controversial Supreme Court’s Carcieri v. Salazar ruling, but when they did, they came out swinging.

Some administration officials, including Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk, a member of the Pawnee Nation, had long been hinting that the February ruling was wrong.

The court’s decision has effectively restricted Interior’s ability to take land into trust for tribes federally recognized after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 became law.

The administration’s position grew more pronounced during a media conference call involving Interior Department and White House officials held Nov. 4.

“There is a problem here that has to be fixed,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said.

Kim Teehee, White House senior policy advisor for Native American Affairs, elaborated, saying the administration supports a legislative fix whereby all tribes can benefit from the land into trust process regardless of their date of federal recognition. Teehee is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

The day after the call, the administration made its case before a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee on Capitol Hill.

The hearing was aimed at discussing two bills, H.R. 3742, sponsored by Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., which would amend the IRA to reaffirm the authority of the secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian tribes, and H.R. 3697, sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., which has a nearly identical intention. Cole is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

Donald Laverdure, deputy assistant secretary of Indian affairs at Interior, testified that the department applauds both bills. He is a citizen of the Crow Tribe of Montana.

“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.”

Laverdure said the decision has disrupted the process for acquiring land in trust for recognized tribes by imposing new and undefined requirements on applications now pending before Interior.

While several members of the committee agreed that there must be a Carcieri fix, there was some wariness presented by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., who opposes a “fast track” land into trust fix. He wants to hear from state and local governments before taking action.

Some states’ rights advocates and others have taken strong stances against a legislative fix, fearing the consequences of more lands going back to tribes.

One such opponent who made an appearance at the hearing was Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. He testified that he supports tribal sovereignty, but opposes a Carcieri fix.

He said lawmakers should consider whether the pre-Carcieri system is still necessary to achieve the original goals of the IRA. He also made the case that states and localities are harmed in many ways when tribes receive lands, such as by reducing tax revenues.

Blumenthal predicted 10 more years of litigation if a land into trust fix passes Congress.

Several tribal leaders, including some who testified at the hearing, have said the Obama administration is right to support a fix, as tribes should not be treated differently and many have historical claims to more land of what is now known as the United States.

“If this decision is not addressed, there will be ‘haves’ (those who can take land into trust) and ‘have nots’ in Indian country,” said Sandra Klineburger, chairwoman of the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians.

“Our community knows what it is like to be part of the ‘have nots.’”

1 comment:

Lisa said...

HR 3697, 3742, and S 1703. Should be called the Interior Secretary's Mis-appropriations Protection Act, ISAPA . see to find out why. These three bills will amend the 1934 Indian Re-organization Act to re-affirm the Secretary of Interior's powers to make decisions without accountability.

For over 60 years the Interior Secretary has failed to administer the Congressional appropriations to the Historic Native Americans as Congress intended in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

Instead, the Interior Secretary has been running rogue, making his own regulations, allocating those same appropriations and federal funding to newly created tribes who's constitutions don't meet the requirements set forth in the 1934 IRA. The Interior Secretary has even been acknowledging entertainment company (casino)backed Imposter tribes at the expense of the Historic tribes. Evidence for this can be found in You too can vote to be Miwok.

Then comes the Carcieri decision stating that the Interior Secretary can only administer to the tribes identified as per the 1934 IRA.

To solve the problem, the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar asked Kildee, Cole and Dorgan to save his a$$ by writing bills to re-affirm the powers of the Secretary of Interior. Making all the Secretary's egregious decisions legal without explanation to Congress, the Federal Court or anyone else.

If these bills were to pass they would effectively give the Secretary of Interior, Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, making all the Secretary's breaches of fiduciary duty to the Historic Tribes and US Tax Payers legal and absolve Secretary from explaining why he's been mis-managing Congress' intent.

The Natural Resources Committee is expecting a report within a week from the Assistant Secretary. Let's help him out.

Petition to Natural Resources Committee on