Clinton signs a final Indian bill
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DECEMBER 29, 2000

President Bill Clinton on Wednesday signed into law a bill affecting several tribes and Native Hawaiians.

Included among the provisions of the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act are official recognition of the Loyal Shawnee of Oklahoma as a separate tribe, restoration of the Groton Rancheria of California, and finalization of the settlement of the Torres-Martinez Cahuilla of California.

The Act also establishes a Sioux Nation Supreme Court and eliminates Department of Interior approval for particular leases for the Navajo Nation. It also modifies or adds trust land holdings for several California tribes.

The Loyal Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma has been legally a part of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma since an 1867 treaty. But the Shawnee have always maintained a separate tribal and cultural identity. For at least four years, both the tribe and the Cherokee Nation have sought official recognition of that status.

The Shawnee will operate their government in the same jurisdictional area as the Cherokee Nation, but cannot take into trust any land or operate federal programs in this area without the Cherokee Nation's consent.

"We have worked with the Shawnees for years to achieve this," said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. "They are proud of their heritage as Shawnees, and proud of the dignified way they have gained their federal recognition."

Like many other tribes, the Coastal Miwok Tribe of the Graton Rancheria of California were terminated by Congress in the 1950s and 1960s.

Since then, the small tribe has sought to have their status restored and a 1997 report to Congress recommended immediate action. A separate bill introduced this Congress would have restored the tribes' status but included an non-gaming disclaimer. The Act signed on Wednesday does not.

The tribe currently owns a 1-acre homestead in northern California.

After the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians dropped their opposition, a bill to settle the damages of the Torres-Martinez Cahuilla Tribe sailed through Congress this year. The bill compensates monetarily the tribe for having over 2,000 acres of their reservation flooded by the creation of the Salton Sea earlier this century.

The bill also gives the remote southern California tribe the right to purchase land for gaming and economic development purposes in a more prime location.

The Act also creates a Sioux Nation Supreme Court to be funded by the Department of Justice. It will be housed in the Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place, located in Stanley County, South Dakota.

The land used for the Reconciliation Place will be taken into trust by the government for the member tribes of the Sioux Nation. The Reconciliation Place will also serve as a Lewis and Clark and Indian historical center.

An $18 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will go towards the construction of the center.

The Act modifies leasing provisions for the Navajo Nation. With the exception of leases for exploration, development, or extraction of mineral resources, the Department of Interior will no longer have to approve individual leases for Navajo Nation trust lands. This move is seen as streamlining the process for the tribe.

The Act takes various parcels of land into trust for several California tribes including the Pit River Tribe, Fort Independence Paiute Community, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and Pala Band of Mission Indians. These lands have been designated as not for gaming purposes.

The Act also takes into trust land for the Lytton Rancheria of California. The land, located near Oakland, currently houses a card room operated by the Santa Rosa Band of Pomo Indians and the tribe plans on seeking a compact from the state in order to offer expanded gaming at the location.

The operators of two Bay Area card clubs have voiced strong disagreements and want Governor Gray Davis to oppose a compact for the tribe. "President Clinton's signature today on legislation that allows an Indian tribe to circumvent the normal review process and turn a failing card room in San Pablo into an Indian Reservation will open the floodgates to Nevada-style gaming in urban areas of Northern California and eventually to cities throughout the state," they said on Wednesday.

Get the Act:
The Omnibus Indian Advancement Act (H.R.5528)