Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chair, Senator John Barrasso
Bill improves the trust land acquisition process for tribes and promotes better transparency
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced S. 1879, the Interior Improvement Act.
The bill dramatically improves the Department of the Interior trust land acquisition process for American Indian tribes. In addition to codifying and streamlining portions of that process, this bill restores the Secretary of the Interior’s authority to take land into trust for all federally recognized tribes and reaffirms the status of Indian lands already taken into trust.
“Outdated federal Indian land policies must be modernized to streamline bureaucracy, including processes governing trust land acquisitions,” said Chairman Barrasso. “This bill encourages local cooperation and better transparency from Washington. It’s about time we give tribes the freedom to use their land for the betterment of their people.”
This legislation promotes transparency and cooperation between tribes and local jurisdictions by:
- Requiring the Secretary of the Interior to consult with Indian tribes;
- Incentivizing the use of cooperative agreements;
- Providing clear statutory notice and comment requirements;
- Offering a fast-track application process for tribes with cooperative agreements, and providing good faith protections for tribes without agreements; and
- Allowing stakeholders to voice and address concerns without resorting to costly litigation.
In addition, this bill supports:
- Economic development and self-determination by allowing tribes to use their land for the betterment of their people; and
- Cost savings for tribes and taxpayers by streamlining the Department of the Interior processes, cutting red tape, and reducing uncertainty and litigation.