Environment | National | Politics

Controversial defense bill includes Northern Cheyenne Tribe deal

The flag of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Photo from Facebook

The controversial National Defense Authorization Act includes provisions to benefit the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana.

Section 3007 of the 1,648-page package requires the Interior Department to place land in trust for the tribe. About 932 acres is covered.

However, the bill does not include about 635 acres near sacred Bear Butte in South Dakota that the tribe wants in trust. That property was listed in the Northern Cheyenne Lands Act when introduced as H.R. 4350 in the House and H.R. 4350 in the Senate.

It's not clear why the Bear Butte land was removed from the defense bill. There is no explanation in a report that accompanied the measure.

Section 3007 also includes a mineral rights swap with a non-Indian company. The tribe will receive rights to 5,000 acres of coal deposits within its reservation to address an oversight made in 1900.

“We are overjoyed that Congress will be correcting an error made by the United States over 100 years ago when our Reservation was expanded," President Llevando “Cowboy” Fisher said in a press release.

In exchange, Great Northern Properties will receive minerals rights to land owned by the federal government. The Obama administration raised concerns about the value of the swap at hearings earlier this year.

The House passed the defense bill last week by a 300-119 vote. It is expected to pass the Senate later this week.

Get the Story:
‘Historic’ Montana Lands Package Nears Finish Line (The Flathead Beacon 12/9)
Montana lands package came together at the last minute (The Missoulian 12/7)

Some Opinions:
Editorial: Montana wins big with bipartisan land deal (The Billings Gazette 12/9)
Steve Charter: What they didn't tell you about Congress' public lands package (The Billings Gazette 12/9)

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Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes seven bills at meeting (7/31)

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