TITLE: Oppose H.R. 3565, the Federal Land Freedom Act and Actions in the House Committee on Natural Resources Impacting Indian Lands
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, the House Natural Resources Committee and its Subcommittees have considered and approved a number of bills that either threaten or would impact Indian reservations and lands, including tribal authority, jurisdiction and sovereignty over these lands; and
WHEREAS, for example, on May 24, 2017, the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing entitled “Examining Impacts of Federal Natural Resources Laws Gone Astray” and filled the Congressional Record with baseless claims about the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA) and its support for Indian trust lands; and
WHEREAS, for example, on July 13, 2017, the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs held a hearing regarding trust land acquisition under Section 5 of the IRA and suggested the Secretary has misused this authority when, in fact, only 10 percent of the 90 million acres of tribal lands lost under allotment laws and policies have been restored as tribal trust lands; and
WHEREAS, for example, in the 114th Congress, the House Committee on Natural Resources considered and approved a variety of bills that would transfer federal lands to states without regard for impacts to Indian reservations, tribal resources and tribal authority over those lands; and
WHEREAS, H.R. 3565, the Federal Lands Freedom Act, continues this dangerous trend by proposing to transfer authority over federal lands for energy development to states without regard for impacts to Indian reservations, tribal resources and tribal authority over those lands; and
WHEREAS, H.R. 3565, the Federal Lands Freedom Act, appropriately excludes Indian trust lands from being transferred to state energy development authority, but should also exclude any lands within Indian reservations or where tribal resources on federal lands may be impacted; and
WHEREAS, protections for Indian reservation lands and tribal resources are based on treaties and agreements with the United States which are the Supreme Law of the Land, and the United States has a legal and moral obligation to uphold the treaty and trust responsibilities that define the relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes; and
WHEREAS, the hearings and legislation described above undermine treaty rights and other agreements with tribes, tribal sovereignty, the policy of self-determination, and the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Tribes.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) strongly opposes any initiatives that threaten to erode treaty rights and other agreements with tribes, tribal sovereignty, the policy of self-determination, and the government to government relationship between the United States and Tribes, and calls on the President of the United States and members of Congress to recognize and reaffirm the United States’ policy of self-determination for Indian Nations, the basis for the protection of Indian lands as trust lands, and to honor the treaty and trust relationship upon which the United States was built; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, prior to further consideration, H.R. 3565 must exclude any federal lands within the exterior boundaries of an Indian reservation and other federal lands where tribal resources may be impacted from their provisions; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NCAI calls on the House Committee on Natural Resources to fully support the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, tribal self-determination, Indian reservation lands, and treaty and trust lands and resources, and to hold hearings on the dire needs in Indian Country, including, energy and economic development, infrastructure, education, health care, law enforcement and cultural preservation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NCAI calls on the House Committee on Natural Resources to hold roundtables and consultation sessions with Indian tribes to inform its members on the issues facing Indian Country and to assist the members in developing legislation to address these issues; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.