Facilitating the Leasing of Tribal Lands

Jun 20, 2012

Native American Legislative Update - June 2012

Facilitating the Leasing of Tribal Lands

On May 15, the House voted 400 to 0 to pass the HEARTH Act (Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act of 2011, H.R. 205). This legislation would authorize tribes to lease tribal lands for such purposes as housing, community services, business, energy connections and roads without having to get express prior approval for each project from the Secretary of the Interior, provided that the tribe has in place its own regulations for the conduct of that leasing which have been approved by the Secretary.

When the bill was brought to the House floor, its sponsor, Rep. Heinrich (NM) had this to say about the delays the HEARTH Act seeks to address:

Native families buying a house go through the same process as everyone else--they find a house they like, work with their bank to gain approval for a mortgage, and make an offer to the seller. But before these families can close on the sale, they must also get approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to lease the land that the house is built on. That approval can take between 6 months and 2 years--an intolerable delay for most buyers.

The House-passed HEARTH Act is now pending before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

See more articles in the June 2012 NALU.

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