CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, December 6, 2016, the House will consider the S. 817, A bill to provide for the addition of certain real property to the reservation of the Siletz Tribe in the State of Oregon, under suspension of the rules. S. 817 was introduced on March 196, 2015, by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and passed the Senate by unanimous consent on July 14, 2016.
S. 817 would clarify how the Secretary of the Interior evaluates land to be taken into trust for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon. Under current regulations, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has two separate processes for evaluating potential trust land depending on whether the land is located within or outside of the recognized boundaries of the reservation. If the land is located outside of the recognized boundaries, the process requires a greater justification. The bill would require the Secretary to consider certain property — land previously within the original Siletz Reservation — that is considered “off-reservation” under current law as “on-reservation.” Under the legislation, all property taken into trust would be considered part of the reservation.
The Office of Trust Services, within the Bureau of Indian Affairs, carries out Indian Affairs trust responsibilities to Indian tribes and individuals and oversees all headquarter activities associated with management and protection of trust and restricted lands, natural resources, and real estate services. The office provides land related functions to Indian trust owners including acquisition, disposal, rights-of-way, leasing and sales, and assists them in the management, development, and protection of trust land and natural resource assets. Programs administered include real estate services; land title and records; probate; natural resources; forestry and wildland fire management; irrigation, power and safety of dams.
Placing tribal land into trust is a process whereby the secretary of the Department of the Interior acquires title to property and holds it for the benefit of a Native American tribe or individual tribal members. The trust process was created as a tool to help tribes regain original land bases. The use of trust lands is governed by the tribes, subject to certain federal restrictions, and the land is usually not subject to state laws.
Most newly acquired tribal trust lands are located within Indian reservation boundaries or adjacent to them. Under certain conditions there may be off-reservation acquisitions. Typical uses of the acquired land include governmental operations, cultural activities, agricultural or forestry activities, increased housing, social and community services, health care and educational facilities.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing S. 817 would have no significant effect on the federal budget.
For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.