Congressman Doug LaMalfa and U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein introduced bipartisan legislation to amend the Recreation and Public Purposes Act and allow Native American tribes to purchase or lease federal public lands in the same way that state and local governments and non-profit organizations may.
The Recreation and Public Purposes Act was signed into law in 1926 and authorized the sale or lease of public lands for recreational or public purposes to state and local governments and to qualified nonprofit organizations. Land uses under the act include municipal facilities, schools, hospitals, parks, historic monument sites, campgrounds and law enforcement facilities.
“The Recreation and Public Purposes Act was codified into law nearly a century ago,” LaMalfa said. “At the time, Congress did not consider whether tribal governments would be interested in developing land for recreation or for public services, similar to the way that state and local governments do. By fixing this oversight, this bill can help reduce the federal government’s oversized land ownership footprint and develop land for a beneficial purpose.”
“As our nation works to strengthen tribal sovereignty and self-determination, we must ensure parity in how our laws treat Tribal governments,” said Padilla. “It’s long past time we fix this omission and allow tribal governments to have the same opportunities to access and purchase public lands as state and local governments. I look forward to working with my colleagues to enact this commonsense bill as quickly as possible.”
“Tribal governments shouldn’t have been excluded from purchasing or leasing Bureau of Land Management land,” said Feinstein. “Our bill provides a long-overdue fix to this mistake. It provides parity between tribal governments and state and local governments when it comes to accessing these public lands.”
This bill is supported by The National Congress of American Indians and the Northern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (which includes Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, Big Lagoon Rancheria, Blue Lake Rancheria, Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Pitt River Tribe, Quartz Valley Indian Reservation, Redding Rancheria, Resighini Rancheria, Susanville Rancheria, Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, Trinidad Rancheria, and the Wiyot Tribe).