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Miami Tribe credits legislative success to support from lawmakers

Miami Nation Chief Doug Lankford, left, with Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma). Photo from Senator James Lankford / Facebook

The Miami Nation of Oklahoma thanked key members of Congress for helping the tribe secure passage of two bills in the current session.

The tribe isn't a big lobbyist in Washington, D.C. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the tribe only spent $34,000 on one firm in all of 2015.

The tribe isn't a big contributor either. Except for a $2,500 donation to Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) last year, the tribe hasn't spent much on politicians.

Still the tribe secure enactment of not just one but two bills during the 114th Congress, which started in 2015. While neither measure breaks new ground in terms of Indian affairs, Chief Douglas Lankford said they are key to the tribe's future.

“The success of the Miami Tribe’s federal legislation helps the tribe move forward and take care of business for its 4,980 tribal members in Oklahoma and across the country,” Lankford said in a press release. “We could never have accomplished this without the hard work and support of our great congressional leadership.”

It helps that the supporters of the tribe's agenda are Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress. In addition to Sen. Lankford, who is not related to the chief, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, ensured that the bills received hearings, markups and votes.

"The tribe cannot adequately thank Congressman Mullin, Senator Lankford, Congressman Young, and their staff, for the support and assistance to see the passage of the tribe’s legislation through Congress,” said Chief Lankford.

H.R.533, which became law on July 6, 2015, revokes the tribe's outdated and unused Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act charter. Similar legislation has been enacted for other tribes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs said in testimony in 2014.

H.R.487, which became law on Monday, allows the Miami Nation to sell, transfer or lease non-trust lands without running afoul of the Non-Intercourse Act. Again, other tribes have secured similar measures.

“This bill is important to the tribe because it removes old and troublesome federal restrictions on the tribe’s ability to sell or lease its lands,” Lankford said. “The Indian Non- Intercourse Act is an out dated law that remains on the books and was an impediment to the tribe’s self-determination regarding the use of its own lands.”

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