Published on May 01, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has long been committed to strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship between the federal government and tribal nations. The trust and treaty obligations the federal government has to Indian Country provide the essential structure to the nation-to-nation relationship – but for decades Alaska Native tribes have been prevented from placing their lands into trust and so have been excluded from the benefits provided through the trustee arrangement.
Yesterday, the Department of the Interior announced it “is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would allow the Secretary of the Interior to consider petitions from Alaska Native tribes to take land into trust.” Upon hearing the news of the potential rule change, NCAI President Brian Cladoosby remarked:
“The trust relationship between the federal government and tribal governments is the foundation of all policies affecting Indian Country. That Alaska Native peoples have been cut out of this critical arrangement is unacceptable and has created myriad problems for those tribes.
I am greatly encouraged that Assistant Secretary Washburn has proposed a change to this rule. It is proof that this Administration continues to be committed to working for and with Indian Country. NCAI will work with the Interior Department to ensure that the rule change proceeds smoothly.”
When Alaska Native tribes are able to place their lands into trust, they will benefit from the same protections as the tribes in the lower 48 states. As the trustee for tribes, the federal government will: provide funding for essential services and self-sustaining prosperity, guard our right to govern ourselves on our remaining lands, and help manage those lands and resources in our best interests.
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