WASHINGTON – On the ninth anniversary of the signing of the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act of 2012, Department of the Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland noted the legislation’s importance to Indian Country’s development:
“Nine years ago, today, I had the honor of joining Tribal leaders, members of the Interior Department, and members of Congress to watch President Obama sign the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act into law,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Newland said. “The HEARTH Act was passed with bipartisan support to provide federally recognized Tribes a way to exercise greater control over their lands and to use judgement, through their own regulations and governmental processes, to benefit their people. By its support for Tribal sovereignty and self-determination, the HEARTH Act continues to make a positive difference for the dozens of Tribes with approved land-leasing regulations.”
The Act, which amended the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955 (25 U.S.C. 415), promotes Tribal self-determination by making a voluntary, alternative land-leasing process available to federally recognized Tribes through the Department of the Interior. It restored the authority of those Tribes to develop and implement their own laws governing the long-term leasing of Indian trust lands for agricultural, business, renewable (solar and wind) energy, residential and other purposes.
Under the HEARTH Act, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to approve Tribal regulations if they are consistent with DOI’s leasing regulations and provide for an environmental review process that meets requirements set forth in the Act. Once a Tribe’s HEARTH application is approved, it can negotiate and enter into leases without further approvals by the Secretary through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
To date, 62 Tribal nations have received Secretarial approval for leasing regulations with another 24 awaiting approval and more expressing an interest in the process.
Tribes may submit HEARTH applications to BIA for agricultural and business leases of Tribal trust lands for a primary term of 25 years, and up to two renewal terms of 25 years each. Leases of Tribal trust lands for residential, recreational, religious or educational purposes may be executed for a primary term of up to 75 years.
The BIA Office of Trust Services’ Division of Real Estate Services administers the HEARTH Act review process for Tribal leasing regulations applications. Interested Tribes may submit their regulations by mail to:
U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Trust Services, Deputy Bureau Director–Trust Services Attention: Division of Real Estate Services 1849 C Street, N.W., MS-4620-MIB Washington, D.C. 20240
For more information and the list of Tribes with approved regulations, visit the HEARTH Act page on the BIA website.