Opinion | Trust

Opinion: No to land-into-trust for Shakopee Sioux Community

A tribally-constructed building in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Photo from SMSC

Barbara Marschall, who sits on the Scott County Board of Commissioners, explains why she opposes land-into-trust for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota:
My position has always been, and continues to be, that I'm opposed politically and philosophically to placing more land with fee title into trust status. My rationale has been clear and consistent. Current laws give responsibility for Indian nations to the federal government, similar to a paternal guardian-ward relationship. The prevailing laws regarding the federal government’s responsibility for Indian nations date back to 1934, and are, quite frankly, outdated and unsuitable for the present time.

When one looks at the primary rationale for placing land into trust – “…to promote economic self-sufficiency and provide adequate land to meet the tribal community’s needs for housing…” – it is obvious that the SMSC has sufficient land in trust to meet these needs. This might lead people to believe that the county would automatically oppose the addition of any further land into trust, but the issue is not as simple as the tribe’s need for housing or to maintain its economic self-sufficiency.

It is important to fully understand why the SMSC would continue to pursue placing additional land into trust. While the advantages of having trust land removed from the tax rolls are obvious, there are other significant motivators for the tribe to both acquire and place land into trust. Tribal governments have a significant degree of sovereignty that places them in a different status from local governments. Historically and culturally, one of the most important aspects of treaties between Indian nations and the federal government has been the promises of permanent homelands, access to cultural and natural resources, and recognition of the right to continue to exist as distinct sovereign peoples. The only method available to any tribal government to accomplish this is purchasing land and then having the land placed into trust status so they are the undisputed possessors and controllers of the land forever.

Get the Story:
Barbara Marschall: County commissioner reacts to latest tribal trust land proposal (The Prior Lake American 1/15)

Related Stories:
BIA adds 595 acres to reservation of Shakopee Sioux Community (07/01)

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