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Public Statements

Lease Authorization for Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. LUJÁN. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to take from the Speaker's table the bill (S. 3903) to authorize leases of up to 99 years for lands held in trust for Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.


Mr. LUJÁN. Madam Speaker, today I rise to ask my colleagues to support an important measure that will allow the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh, in Northern New Mexico, to expand economic opportunities for their tribal members.

Ohkay Owingeh is a small tribal community (Pueblo) in the northern part of my district and is part of the cultural fabric of Northern New Mexico. Since before Spanish rule, and American Manifest Destiny the small pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh used it's surrounding lands to provide for its people.

As history moved to present day the Federal government and tribal communities entered into trust treaties to provide for the well being of Indian people across our nation. As part of the federal government's trust obligation to tribal communities, putting lands into trust for use by tribal people is something that is fundamental to the government-to-government relationship between the United States and individual tribal communities.

In the modern age many tribes develop part of their trust lands to create economic opportunities for their people. In many cases their ventures are successful and the tribe can use their trust lands as they see fit, but in other cases like that of Ohkay Owingeh the cumbersome nature of obtaining approval to lease their lands for economic activity can prevent very beneficial business ventures from ever taking place and, thus, hindering the tribes ability to provide for its own people.

The importance of allowing tribal governments to enter into long term leases is paramount to giving them the ability to create better opportunities for their tribal members, their children and future generations. Many tribes have vast lands that can benefit the tribe and surrounding areas economically, but because of the process of getting secretarial approval to lease their own lands can be detrimental for the tribe.

I am asking my colleagues to support this no cost measure that will allow the tribe of Ohkay Owingeh to enter into long term leases to expand economic opportunities for the tribe and to lift the cumbersome requirement of Secretarial Approval for use of their own lands.

Many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have supported such measures for other tribes around the country in this congress and in congresses past; and this kind bipartisan support is crucial to providing opportunities for the small Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh.

The bill was ordered to be read a third time, was read the third time, and passed, and a motion to reconsider was laid on the table.


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