Published January 3, 2019
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation celebrates the Stigler Act Amendments of 2018 becoming an official law after President Trump signed the bill earlier this week.
Enrolled tribal citizens of the Five Tribes can now inherit their family’s allotted land and keep it in restricted fee status without having to meet a required blood quantum.
The Stigler Act Amendments of 2018 removes a one-half degree Indian blood quantum requirement that was part of the original law passed in 1947.
“We’re so thankful our leaders in Washington understood what this amended law means for our people and land base and that they took action doing what was right for the Five Tribes in Indian Country,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Our families have a right to pass their lands onto their heirs and hold onto these historically significant family connections.”
From 2011 to 2015, the Cherokee Nation lost 534 acres of restricted fee land because of the blood quantum requirement.
In recent years, the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Tribes, in which Baker is president, made the Stigler Act Amendments a legislative priority.
Both Baker and Muscogee Creek Nation Principal Chief James Floyd, who is ITC vice president, had testified before Congress for the bill’s passage.
In the early 1900s, the Five Tribes had 15 million acres in restricted fee status in Oklahoma and by 2015 was down to 381,000 acres in restricted fee status.
The bill unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 20 and cleared the U.S. Senate last month.
“The new law signed by the president is a remedy to a huge injustice that has led to a devastating loss of land over the last seven decades. This will not reverse any of the past, but it will help prevent any more of our Cherokee tribal land from falling out of restricted status,” Cherokee Nation’s Vice President of Government Relations Kim Teehee said. “We cannot overemphasize what this means for our tribal citizens. As Cherokees, we treasure the restricted land allotments and the link they represent to both our families and to our tribe.”
Cherokee Nation citizens with questions about land inheritance or other issues related to the Stigler Act should call Cherokee Nation Real Estate Services at 918-453-5000