SCIA Holds Hearing to Bring Certainty to Land Into Trust >>

November 25th, 2013

SCIA Holds Hearing to Bring Certainty to Land Into Trust

On Wednesday, November 20th, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) held an oversight hearing to address the ongoing adverse impacts of the Supreme Court’s 2009 Carcieri decision on tribal land into trust (LIT) acquisitions.

SUMMARY. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, and the tribal witnesses testified in strong support of a legislative Carcieri fix. However, they cautioned that Congress should not use this effort as a means to address non-land into trust concerns. Washburn stressed that less than 1% of land to trust applications are gaming related. He added that adequate notice, comment, and consideration of state and local government concerns are built into the existing process. IGRA also requires similar notice, comment, and consideration. Tunica Biloxi Chairman Pierite put it simply, “This is about trying to restore our homelands. We have a spiritual connection to our lands.”

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Napa County Supervisor Diane Dillon disagreed, stating that Congress should use a Carcieri fix to strengthen the voice of local governments in the land to trust process. Feinstein took the position that “local governments must have the ability to influence the terms and conditions of the development of new casinos.” Dillon argued the LIT process is broken, that community concerns are ignored or downplayed, and trust land applications are rubber-stamped at a 100% acceptance rate. They asked that the process be amended to require: tribes to prove aboriginal connections to trust lands sought for gaming; tribes to mitigate jurisdictional conflicts as a condition for trust acquisitions; increased notice and comment periods for local governments; among other requested changes.

You can view a webcast of the hearing and download all the testimonies by clicking here.

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