Media Contact: Nedra Darling, OPA-IA Phone: 202-219-4152
For Immediate Release: January 7, 1959

Trust restrictions on allotted Indian lands, scheduled to expire in calendar year 1959, have been extended for an additional five years, Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton announced today.

The order reverses a custom, started in 1951, of limiting such extensions to a maximum of only one year. In 1951, the then Acting Secretary was considering terminating trust status on individual Indian lands on a year-by-year basis. Each trust case would be subject to review every year.

Secretary Seaton said the new order reemphasizes the Department’s recently reiterated policy of taking all precautions against ending Federal supervision over Indians before they are competent to end their status as Federal wards.

Last September 18 Secretary Seaton announced his position: “No Indian Tribe or group should end its relationship with the Federal Government unless such tribe or group has clearly demonstrated, first, that it understands the plan under which such a program would go forward and, second, that the tribe or group affected concurs in and supports the plan proposed. “He said it was "unthinkable to me as your Secretary of the Interior, that consideration would be given to forcing upon an Indian Tribe a so-called termination plan which did not have the understanding and acceptance of a clear majority of the members affected.”

“The General Allotment Act of February 8, 1887, authorized allotments of land for individuals both on reservations and on the public domain.

Homesteads for Indians off-reservations were also authorized by an Act of February 28, 1891.

The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act extended trust restrictions over lands of 1ndianswho accepted the Act’s provisions. Tribes and groups which were not so covered-so-called "unorganized" Indians--have had their trust protection extended for varying periods, until the 1951 decision established the one-year rule.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs recently recommended the longer extensions. The Bureau said it did not add up the thousands of acres covered by the new order, but that the acreage was considereb1e.