After the US Senate unanimously passed the HEARTH ACT – giving tribes more control over leasing Indian land – President Obama has signed it into law.
The legislation will allow tribal governments to approve surface leases on Indian land directly, instead of waiting for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve them. Eastern Shoshone Business Council co-chairman Wes Martel says going through the B-I-A could take years.
“It gets kind of cluttered up sometimes and so… You know, I just think it’s an opportunity for the tribes to kind of get away from that by developing their own regulations,” Martel says.
“I think it’s always encouraging when you see Congress and the president take some action that somewhat recognizes tribal sovereignty and tribal authority.”
Martel says “somewhat” because the Department of the Interior will still have to approve the regulations the tribes put in place. Still, he says this might encourage more Native Americans on the Wind River Reservation to pursue homeownership.