Respect Equality

Dept of Interior and Native American leaders will meet to return tribal lands

department of the interior doi tribal lands restoration native americans deb haalans land in trust federal government discussions
Dawn Goodwin holds a flag during the ‘Treaty People Walk for Water’ event near La Salle Lake State Park in Solway, Minnesota on August 7, 2021. KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images

Story at a glance

  • The U.S. Department of the Interior announced a series of upcoming sessions between federal representatives and Native American tribal leadership on land restoration.
  • The topics will revolve around land-into-trust procedures and land restoration to tribes.

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on Tuesday that it will launch new dialogues with Native American tribes as part of a larger mission to restore native land ownership.

With the invitation, federally recognized Native American tribal leadership would consult with DOI officials on protecting and restoring Tribal homelands through the longstanding land-into-trust process, leasing, sacred sites and treaty rights.

“At Interior, we have an obligation to work with Tribes to protect their lands and ensure that each community has a homeland where its citizens can live together to lead safe and fulfilling lives,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “These important actions are a step in the right direction to restore homelands that will strengthen Tribal communities.”

The U.S.’s history has been characterized by the illegal acquisition of tribal lands as part of the broader genocide against Native Americans. 

The DOI was first able to take Native American lands into trust with the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934, which had the goal of the federal government acquiring and protecting lands for Native American use.

In April, DOI Secretary Deb Haaland — the first Native American to helm the agency — issued a new ordinance that strengthened the land-into-trust application process for Native American tribes near reservations as an extension of federally-protected and designated tribal lands.

The newest initiative announced on Tuesday works to add more tribal input into these decisions.