House Hearing on Tribal Parity on Public Lands and Cultural Protection Bills

Sep 29, 2022 | Insights

On Wednesday, September 14, 2022, the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Land held a legislative hearing on the Advancing Tribal Parity on Public Land Act and Tribal Cultural Protection Act.  The hearing can be viewed here.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva introduced both bills in recognition of the dispossession of Indian lands by the United States.  At a March 8, 2022 oversight hearing that established the need for both bills, Chairman Grijalva’s opening statement recognized that “European colonization of this continent and the founding of this country are built on the dispossession of land from Indigenous Peoples by force, coercion, and bad faith legal agreements.”

The Chairman continued, “While the history of land dispossession and violence can never be fully redressed, I believe there are opportunities to bring tribal communities back into the management of their ancestral homelands.  In doing so, we can support Indigenous communities while improving land management based on expertise developed since time immemorial.”

The Advancing Tribal Parity on Public Lands Act seeks to protect Native cultural sites located on federal land, to improve consultation with Indian tribes, and to bring parity to Indian tribes with regard to public land management laws by preventing the disposal of tribal cultural sites, authorizing tribal governments to acquire public lands, increasing tribal consultation regarding public land management, prioritizing the acquisition of cultural sites, and ensuring tribal representation on public land management advisory boards.  The Advancing Tribal Parity on Public Lands Act can be read here.

The Tribal Cultural Protection Act calls for the protection of tribal sacred sites and other culturally relevant areas on federal public lands by establishing a Tribal Cultural Areas System. The Tribal Cultural Areas System would allow Congress to add or remove public lands from the system to protect and preserve the lands cultural values while allowing for traditional tribal cultural use. The Tribal Cultural Protection Act would also give tribal nations a role in the management of tribal cultural areas through cooperative management agreements and ensure that traditional tribal knowledge is utilized in that management. The Tribal Cultural Protection Act can be read here.

Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP actively tracks hearings and legislation on Indian affairs in the U.S. Congress. Our clients regularly testify before Congress and weigh in on pending legislation. For more information about our work in Washington, D.C., please contact attorney Rollie Wilson in our D.C. office at (202) 340-8232.