In January 2016, the Bureau of Indian Affairs placed nearly 90,000 acres in trust for Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico in the largest single trust land acquisition in history. Then-Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Isleta Pueblo Gov. Eddie Paul Torres Sr. are seen signing the documents for the acquisition. Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior

Bryan Newland: The #fakenews crisis about the land-into-trust process

It's already difficult for tribes to acquire lands away from existing reservations so why is the Trump team planning to impose more hurdles? Writing on the influential Turtle Talk blog, attorney Bryan Newland, a citizen of the Bay Mills Indian Community who worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Obama administration, explain why further restrictions on the land-into-trust process will never satisfy critics, whose complaints aren't grounded in fact:
In 1934, Congress authorized the Secretary to place land into trust for tribes on the reservation and off the reservation. There were no caveats or restrictions on the purpose of this authority – it was intended to ensure that tribes could establish or restore their homelands.

This policy has steadily grown more restrictive through bureaucratic action. And still…the same old criticism has persisted.

You can see from the BIA’s fee-to-trust regulations in 1980 that the basic arguments against putting land into trust have remain largely unchanged over 40 years: Indian tribes are taking land out of local jurisdiction, undermining local zoning regulations, and taking local tax revenues. Since IGRA’s passage in 1988, gaming has also been thrown into the mix.

This criticism has consistently come from the same places – States like South Dakota (which challenges many tribal applications to place land into trust as a matter of course); a few local governments in California, Connecticut, and Wisconsin; and groups like the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance and Stand Up! California.

The notion that the Federal Government is putting too much land into trust without regard to local interests is #fakenews. The facts show this to be true.

Read More on the Story:
Bryan Newland: The BIA’s land-into-trust process & why changes will never satisfy the critics. (Turtle Talk 7/24)

Relevant Documents:
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Off-Reservation Trust Acquisitions and Action on Trust Acquisition Requests (Department of the Interior Unified Agenda for 2017)

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