Byrne introduces land act for Indians

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rep. Bradley Byrne introduced the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Land Reaffirmation Act two weeks ago to reaffirm that the Poarch land is federal trust land.

The bill has five co-sponsors, including Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.)

According to Communications Director Seth Morrow, the bill hasn’t passed in the House, and is still in the Natural Resources Committee.

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In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled in Carcieri v. Salazar that only tribes recognized prior to 1934 (when the Indian Reorganization Act became law) could have their land taken into federal trust. Poarch was recognized after that time, so this decision caused uncertainty regarding whether the Poarch land was tribal trust land or not.

“Rep. Byrne’s bill would simply reaffirm that the Poarch land is federal trust land as it has been for years,” Morrow said. “This will allow for Poarch to have the same protections and rights regarding land usage that other federally recognized tribes have around the United States. The bill doesn’t change the ability to take future land into trust, and it does not grant any additional or new protections.”

The bill is H.R. 5486, and includes land in Escambia County, Ala.; Monroe County, Ala.; Elmore County, Ala.; Montgomery County, Ala.; and Escambia County, Fla.

“Congressman Byrne understands the important role that Poarch plays in Escambia County, and he is committed to helping eliminate uncertainty and stop any frivolous lawsuits,” Morrow said.