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Obama administration opposes Carcieri v. Salazar

November 30, 2009

WASHINGTON – This month the Obama administration defined its position on the Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. The ruling restricts the Interior Department’s ability to take land into trust for tribes that were federally recognized after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

During a media conference call November 4, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said “There is a problem here that has to be fixed.” That was expanded upon by Kim Teehee, White House senior policy advisor for Native American Affairs. She said the administration supports legislation to change the ruling and allow land into trust consideration for all tribes regardless of their date of recognition.

On November 5, the administration followed up at a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee. Donald Laverdure, deputy assistant secretary of Indian affairs at Interior, represented the administration and testified that his department supports two bills under consideration. Both would amend the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and reaffirm the authority of the Interior Secretary to take land into trust for tribes. The bills are H.R. 3742, sponsored by Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., and H.R. 3697, sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla..

Laverdure said “The department was, and continues to be, disappointed in the court’s ruling in the Carcieri case. The decision was not consistent with the longstanding policy and practice of the United States to assist all tribes in establishing and protecting a land base sufficient to allow them to provide for the health, welfare, and safety of tribal members, and in treating tribes alike regardless of the date of acknowledgment.”

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