Dancers at a Narragansett Tribe powwow. Photo: Jack McLane

Brian Lightfoot Brown: It's time to protect our tribal homelands

Indian Country Needs a clean Carcieri fix now
By Brian Lightfoot Brown

In February 2009, the Supreme Court decided that any Native American tribe who was not “now under federal jurisdiction” at the time of the passing of the Indian Reorganization Act in June of 1934 was not eligible to place tribal lands into federal trust.

Specifically, then Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri had succeeded in prevent the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island from placing 31 acres into federal trust. The tribe intended on using the land for building elderly housing for tribal citizens.

The ruling has created an unfair, immoral obstacle to many tribes in regards to putting their land into trust. All of this because they weren't able to regain their federal status with the U.S. government until after 1934. The fact that these excluded tribal nations had other circumstances beyond their control which prevented them from gaining recognition status earlier.

There has been many land-into-trust obstacles faced by a vast group of tribes who are federally recognized. Most recently, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe had federal trust status removed from their reservation lands. The descendants of the very people who saved the Pilgrims at Plymouth nearly 400 years ago, are left to hope a bill will pass to reassert their land as trust land. However, a clean Carcieri fix, to adjust the Carcieri v. Salazar decision, would solve the issue for all tribes recognized after 1934.

A petition has been created on to push for the government to move toward a clean Carcieri fix. The catch is that the WeThePeople site where the petition was created only gives 30 days for the petition to obtain at least 100,000 signatures or else the petition is closed. The latest petition was started on September 22, 2018, and would need to reach 100,000 signatures by approximately the end of the day on October 21, 2018.

If you support this cause, and you don't have to be Native American to sign, please click the link, sign the petition and share with others who may sign.

We need to make this happen so we can protect tribal land trust rights. This is an intensely crucial issue which needs a swift resolution

Brian Lightfoot Brown is a citizen of the Narragansett Tribe. This opinion is his own.

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