Leaders of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, from left: Seminole Nation Chief Greg Chilcoat, Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief James Floyd, Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton and Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. Photo: Chickasaw Nation

House committee set to advance Republican-sponsored Indian bills

Note: The markup is no longer on the committee's schedule.

The House Committee on Natural Resources is due to advance a group of Republican-sponsored Indian bills, including a controversial measure that strips the executive branch of the ability to recognize tribal groups, at a markup session on Capitol Hill.

The session takes place on Wednesday morning. The agenda includes three items of interest in Indian Country.

Blood quantum in Oklahoma

H.R.2606, the Stigler Act Amendments of 2017.
• Sponsor: Rep. Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma

H.R.2606 amends the Stigler Act of 1947 by removing a blood quantum requirement for lands owned by citizens of the Cherokee Nation, the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the Seminole Nation.

The House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs took testimony on the bill on October 4, 2017, with the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes calling on Congress to pass the bill in order to keep more Indian lands in Indian hands. Citizens of other tribes in the United States are not subject to the same one-half blood quantum requirement.

Federal recognition

H.R.3744, the Tribal Recognition Act.
• Sponsor: Rep. Rob Bishop, Republican of Utah

H.R.3744 strips the Bureau of Indian Affairs of its federal recognition powers. Congress -- and only Congress -- will decide which petitioning groups are worthy of a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

The House subcommittee took testimony on the bill on September 26, 2017, with the Trump administration expressing no objections to the premise of the measure even though tribes across the country have spoken out against it.

Indian health care

H.R.5874, the Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service Act (RAISE Act) of 2018.
• Sponsor: Rep. Kristi Noem, Republican of South Dakota

H.R.5874 makes a number of changes at the Indian Health Service in hopes of making the agency more accountable to tribes.

The House subcommittee did not hold a hearing on H.R.5874 during the 115th Congress but it did take testimony on a prior version of the bill during the last session. A number of tribes, mainly those in the Great Plains, where quality of care issues have gone unresolved for years, have expressed support for the measure.

Next steps

Once the bills clear the markup, they can advance to the full House for consideration, putting them one step closer to becoming law. But while all three measures are sponsored by Republicans, earlier versions have failed to advance in prior sessions of Congress.

The most notable of the group is the Stigler Act Amendments. Though Republicans and the George W. Bush administration supported the removal of the one-half blood quantum requirement more than a decade ago, the energy industry in Oklahoma derailed the bill essentially on the eve of its passage.

The markup session takes place at 10:15am Eastern on Wednesday. It will be broadcast on the committee's website.

House Committee on Natural Resources Notice:
Full Committee Markup (May 23, 2018)

From the Indianz.Com Archive:
Five Nations land bill derailed (October 18, 2002)
Okla. regulators delay Five Nations bill (October 3, 2002)
Five Nations land reform act in limbo (October 2, 2002)
Five Nations land bill held up (September 27, 2002)

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