Fee To Trust
Taking land into trust is one of the most important functions Interior undertakes on behalf of the tribes. Acquisition of land in trust is essential to tribal self-determination. Tribes are sovereign governments and trust lands are a primary locus of tribal authority. Indeed, many federal programs and services are available only on reservations or trust lands. The current federal policy of tribal self-determination is built upon the principles Congress set forth in the Indian Reorganization Act and reaffirmed in the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. Through the protection and restoration of tribal homelands, this Administration has sought to live up to the standards Congress established eight decades ago and indeed to reinvigorate the policies underlying the Indian Reorganization Act.
The benefits to tribes are many. For example, trust acquisitions provide tribes the ability to enhance housing opportunities for their citizens. Trust acquisitions also are necessary for tribes to realize the tremendous energy development capacity that exists on their lands. Trust acquisitions also allow tribes to grant certain rights-of-way and enter into leases necessary for tribes to negotiate the use and sale of the natural resources. Additionally, trust lands provide the greatest protections for many communities who rely on subsistence hunting and agriculture that are important elements of tribal cultures and life ways.
Though the General Allotment Act was enacted and then repudiated long ago, tribes continue to feel the devastating effects of the policy that divided tribal lands, allotted parcels to individual tribal members and provided for the public sale of any surplus tribal lands remaining after allotment. Taking land into trust can address those negative effects.
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