Today, the House of Representatives passed HR 1461, the Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act introduced by Congressman Steve Pearce. The legislation authorizes the Mescalero Apache Tribe to lease, contract, or transfer adjudicated water rights.
"I am pleased with the passage of this bill, which has bipartisan support in the House and the Senate," Pearce said. "The ability to lease these water rights will generate great economic opportunity for the Mescalero Tribe, and will provide water for New Mexicans when we need it most".
Frederick Chino, Sr., President of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, thanked Congressman Pearce for his work. "The Mescalero Apache Tribe is working hard to ensure that the future is bright for our people and surrounding communities," said Chino. "Water is one of our most precious resources and HR 1461 will allow our Tribe to better manage our water and allow us to work with our neighboring communities on water usage. We thank Rep. Stevan Pearce for his leadership on passage of this critical bill and for his friendship and partnership. Working together, we can revitalize the area we all share in a way that allows our communities to grow and prosper for all that live here."
The bill also honors the right for Native American tribal self-determination, by permitting the Tribe to make sovereign decisions with the water, which was granted to the Tribe as a result of a 1993 New Mexico court decision. Revenue gained from leasing this water would enable the Tribe to invest in vital services for their reservation, such as infrastructure improvements, elder care, and scholarship programs.
Fellow New Mexicans, Congressman Lujan and Congressman Heinrich, were cosponsors of this legislation. The bill is identical to legislation introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman in the Senate.