April 6th, 2016 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Legislative Hearing on various Indian Education Bills

April 6th, 2016 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Legislative Hearing on various Indian Education Bills

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has scheduled a legislative hearing to examine four pending bills on Indian Education. The Committee will examine the following bills:

  • S. 2304, a bill to provide for tribal demonstration projects for the integration of early childhood development, education, including Native language and culture, and related services, for evaluation of those demonstration projects, and for other purposes;
  • S. 2468, a bill to require the Secretary of the Interior to carry out a 5-year demonstration program to provide grants to eligible Indian tribes for the construction of tribal schools, and for other purposes;
  • S. 2580, a bill to establish the Indian Education Agency to streamline the administration of Indian education, and for other purposes; and
  • S. 2711, a bill to expand opportunity for Native American Children through additional options in education, and for other purposes.

The hearing will take place on Wednesday, April 6th, at 2:15 p.m. EST in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Witnesses for live testimony are by invitation only, and a list will be posted on the Committee’s website once confirmed. The record will be open for two weeks following the hearing for written comments. A webcast of this hearing will be available on the scheduled hearing date on the Committee website.

For more information about the hearing or the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, please visit: http://www.indian.senate.gov/

Unanimous Supreme Court Upholds Omaha Tribe’s Reservation Boundaries — Issue Regarding Tribe’s Taxing Authority Left Open

Unanimous Supreme Court Upholds Omaha Tribe’s Reservation Boundaries — Issue Regarding Tribe’s Taxing Authority Left Open

On Tuesday, March 22, 2016, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court (8-0) issued its decision in Nebraska v. Parker, upholding the Omaha Tribe’s Reservation boundaries. While the ruling represents a huge win for Indian Country, the Court limited its opinion to the question of whether a federal law diminished the Reservation boundaries. The Court specifically noted that the question of the Omaha Tribe’s ability to regulate and tax non-Indians remains undecided.

Justice Clarence Thomas authored the unanimous decision, holding that the 1882 Act did not diminish the Omaha Reservation. The Court followed the principal developed in prior decisions that only Congress can alter the boundaries of an Indian reservation. The Court found that the Village and State failed to establish that the text of the 1882 Act showed congressional intent to diminish the Reservation.

Pender and Nebraska also argued in favor of de facto diminishment, claiming that legislative history of the 1882 Act, the fact that only 2% of Omaha tribal members have lived in the opened area since the early 20th century, and the fact that the Tribe until 2004 has not exercised regulatory authority over the lands — all argue in favor of de facto diminishment. The Court rejected these arguments, finding that the “subsequent demographic history cannot overcome [the] conclusion that Congress did not intend to diminish the Reservation in 1882.”

“These expectations alone, resulting from the Tribe’s failure to assert jurisdiction, cannot diminish reservation boundaries. Only Congress has the power to diminish a reservation. And though petitioners wish that Congress would have ‘spoken differently’ in 1882, ‘we cannot remake history.’”

As noted above, the Court limited its ruling to the Reservation boundaries and did not rule on the Tribe’s authority to tax non-Indians on Indian lands. “We express no view about whether equitable considerations of laches and acquiescence may curtail the Tribe’s power to tax the retailers of Pender in light of the Tribe’s century-long absence from the disputed lands.”

SCIA Oversight Hearing “The President’s FY2017 Indian Country Budget”

SCIA Oversight Hearing “The President’s FY2017 Indian Country Budget”

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the President’s FY17 budget on March 9th at 2:15. The hearing will take place in Washington, D.C. in 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The following witnesses have been invited to testify:

  • The Honorable Karol Mason, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice;
  • Mr. Lawrence S. Roberts, Acting Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior;
  • Ms. Lourdes Castro Ramirez, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Public & Indian Housing, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;
  • Ms. Mary Smith, Principal Deputy Director, Indian Health Service;
  • The Honorable Aaron Payment, Secretary, National Congress of American Indians
  • Information can be found on the SCIA website here: http://www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/oversight-hearing-presidents-fy2017-indian-country-budget