DOI concerned about coal swap for Northern Cheyenne Tribe

The Interior Department supports a coal swap for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana but the deal might be biased towards a non-Indian company, a top official said at a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs on Wednesday.

H.R.1158, the Montana Mineral Conveyance Act, transfers the subsurface rights to about 5,000 acres on the reservation to the tribe. The subsurface rights to another 5,000 acres off the reservation would go to Great Northern Properties, a Texas company.

While each side gets about the same acreage in subsurface rights, Jodi Gillette, the deputy assistant secretary for Indian Affairs at DOI, said the off-reservation property contains nearly twice as much coal as the on-reservation property. Additionally, while the tribe agreed to waive all of its claims against the federal government, Great Northern isn't required to do the same.

The tribe and Great Northern testified in favor of the bill at the hearing.

Get the Story:
Land Swap a Boost for Northern Cheyenne Tribe (KULR-TV 6/23)
Interior official says tribal coal swap not equal (AP 6/23)

Committee Notice:
Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1158 and H.R. 1560 (June 22, 2011)

Related Stories:
Witness List: House hearing on Northern Cheyenne, Tigua bills (6/22)
Subcommittee sets hearing on Northern Cheyenne, Tigua bills (6/16)
Northern Cheyenne Tribe looks to benefit from coal swap bill (3/23)

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