Published On: Fri, Mar 23rd, 2012
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Indian Affairs Committee holds legislative hearings on land and tribal membership bills

     WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, held a legislative hearing on Thursday, March 22 to examine two bills pending before the Committee.

     The first bill, S. 1898, introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), would provide for the conveyance of land from the United States to the Maniilaq Association in Alaska. The Maniilaq Association provides health and social services to approximately twelve federally-recognized tribes. The transferred land would be used to increase flexibility for the Association’s work.

     “This bill is not about land.  It is about our most important natural resource in Alaska: our people, and their health and well-being,” said Senator Murkowski. “I would like to thank Chairman Akaka for holding this hearing as Senate bill 1898 is a crucial step towards giving the Maniilaq Association the tools and resources they need to improve and expand the healthcare and social services they provide to the residents of remote Northwest Alaska.”

     The second bill, H.R. 1560, amends the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo’s Settlement Act to allow the Tribe to determine its own membership requirements. The Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo is currently the only tribe whose membership is bound by a blood quantum requirement under Federal law. 

     “H.R. 1560 is about freedom – freedom from intrusive federal control,” said Carlos Hisa, Lt. Governor of the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo. “This Congress has encouraged Indian tribes to take up the mantle of self-government as distinct and independent political entities. Critical to that task is the ability of an Indian tribe to determine its own membership.”

     “I want to thank the Administration for providing their views of support on these bills and I especially want to thank the tribal representatives and parties affected by these bills for speaking on them today,” said Chairman Akaka.  “H.R. 1560 and the companion bill to S. 1898 have already passed the House; now we must work together as we move these bills through the Committee.”

     More information and an archived webcast is available on the committee’s website: indian.senate.gov            

– Senate Indian Affairs Committee 

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