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Biden Administration Makes It Easier For Tribes To Reacquire Lands

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Sec. of Interior Deb Haaland

The Interior Department on Tuesday moved to make it easier for tribal nations to place lands into trust, reversing several Trump-era actions that it says undermined tribal sovereignty.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, herself a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe of New Mexico, signed a secretarial order giving regional directors at the Bureau of Indian Affairs the authority to review and approve land-into-trust applications. That reverses a 2017 action from the Trump administration that gave that authority to staff at Interior’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., which Biden officials say caused significant delays in the process.

“At Interior, we have an obligation to work with Tribes to protect their lands and ensure that each Tribe has a homeland where its citizens can live together and lead safe and fulfilling lives,” Haaland said in a statement. “Our actions today will help us meet that obligation and will help empower Tribes to determine how their lands are used — from conservation to economic development projects.”


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