Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk, who is in charge of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, announced on August 24 that the bureau will again begin consulting with tribes on the process of putting land into federal trust.
An unofficial moratorium on many such applications had been in force since last year’s ruling by the Supreme Court that tribes recognized by the federal government after 1934 cannot put land into trust.
Echo Hawk sent a letter to the nation’s tribal leaders that said, in part, “I am pleased that Indian Affairs is continuing our consultation with tribes. It is critical that we work together with tribes to address important issues regarding Indian gaming and sovereignty.”
The three main issues that will be discussed are: “(1) the January 3, 2008 Memorandum regarding Guidance on
Taking Off-reservation Land into Trust for Gaming Purposes; (2) whether there is a need to revise any of the provisions of 25 C.F.R. Part 292, Subpart A (Definitions) and Subpart C (Two-Part Determinations); and (3) whether the Department of the Interior’s process of requiring compliance with 25 C.F.R. Part 151 (Land Into Trust Regulations) should come before or after the Two-Part Determination. “
Echo Hawk’s letter follows a directive sent out in July by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to review the standards used to make decisions on applications to put non-reservation land into trust. Such applications are very controversial; critics refer to the practice as “reservation shopping.”
Echo Hawk will meet with various tribal leaders at different locations from now through November 18.