Concerned with reservation land

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 6, 2013 

So, why aren't all the federally recognized tribes qualified for the U.S. buy-back of Indian land mentioned in Friday's paper where the goal is to help "restore" the trust reservations? Because not all reservations were established using trust lands. While the majority of the reservations were trust in Washington State, the Point Elliott Treaty groups were never assigned trust lands to be managed by a chief. Google "solicitor opinion M-36181" to verify.

As pointed out in the article, only one tribe in California will receive money. That is because, like the Point Elliott Indian groups, the members were assigned their personal homesteads or allotments in the native's personal name, as opposed to being owned or held by the U.S. government in trust. The native's fee simple deed may have been an "incompetent deed," "competent deed," or "restricted fee" deed, none of which are trust.

There were several reasons for not treating the tribes the same. Many Indian groups were small and lacked a strong chief. It was easier to negotiate complete cession of the lands with no permanent homeland intent or transitory plan in place. While the intent in Washington state was originally to transition the native lands to state control (See Omaha section referenced in the Point Elliott Treaty), I believe the majority of our tribes were placed into trust for only "temporary" control by a chief.

Marlene Dawson

Ferndale

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