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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



By Mr. McCAIN:

S. 536. A bill to make technical corrections to laws relating to Native Americans, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Indian Affairs.

Mr. MCCAIN. Mr. President, I am pleased to introduce the Native American Omnibus Act of 2005 to amend a variety of Federal statutes affecting Indian tribes and Indian people. This Act contains nineteen provisions, including technical amendments to several laws, extensions of expiring authorizations, and provisions relating to particular Indian tribes, and certain Native American programs.

Section 101, amends the Indian finance act of 1974 to clarify that non-profit tribal entities are eligible for the BIA Loan Guaranty program. It also raises the limit on the amount of loans to $1.5 billion from $500 million.

Section 102 extends the authorization for the Indian Tribal Justice Technical and Legal Assistance Act to through fiscal year 2010.

Section 103 extends the Indian Tribal Justice Act for three more years.

Section 104 cures a problem specific to New Mexico and the 1924 Indian Pueblo Lands Act. Recently, the New Mexico State Court of Appeals ruled that a change from Indian to non-Indian title for a parcel of land within a Pueblo land grant area eliminated that parcel's status as ``Indian Country.'' This ruling created a jurisdictional void for criminal acts occurring on land within the original Pueblo land grant once its' title has changed. Consistent with existing law, this amendment clarifies that the state maintains jurisdiction over non-Indians, the tribe has jurisdiction over Indians and its members, and the federal government has jurisdiction pursuant to the Major Crimes Act. This amendment does not expand Indian civil jurisdiction and only applies to criminal jurisdiction. I understand that it is uniformly support by all affected parties.

Section 105, conveys approximately 1290 acres of the Lock and Dam #3 lands to the Prairie Island Tribe. The provision prohibits gaming or structures for human habitation on the conveyed lands.

Section 106 is a technical amendment to allow binding arbitration in all contracts and not just leases on the Gila River Indian Community reservation.

Section 107 conveys several parcels of land in the State of Washington to be held in trust for Puyallup Indian Tribes.

Section 108 amends Native American graves Protection and Repatriation Act by clarifying that the term ``Native American'' refers to a member of a tribe, a people, or a culture that is or was indigenous to the United States.

Section 109, the amends the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe's water rights settlement act to permit the expenditure of six percent of the average market value of the Fund over three years.

Section 110, the Washoe Tribes Lake Tahoe Access Act, corrects the 1990 settlement and includes 24.3 acres of land near Lake Tahoe for the Tribes. The amendment does not affect the number of acres conveyed to the Tribe in the original settlement.

Section 111 amends the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. A major source of tribal and individual income comes from the sale of handmade Indian arts and crafts, but millions of dollars are diverted each year from these artists and tribes by those who reproduce and sell counterfeit Indian goods. Enforcing the criminal law that prohibits the sale of Indian arts and crafts misrepresented as an Indian product is often stalled by the other responsibilities of the FBI including investigating terrorism activity and violent crimes on Indian lands. This amendment supplements the existing federal investigative authority by authorizing other federal investigative bodies, such as the BIA, in addition to the FBI, to investigate these offenses.

Section 112, the Colorado River Indian Reservation Boundary Correction Act, corrects the south boundary of the Reservation by reestablishing the boundary as it was delineated in the original survey.

Section 113, reauthorizes the Native American Programs Act of 1974 and establishes the Inter-Departmental Council of Native American Affairs.

Section 114 amends the Native Hawaiian Education Act to include research and education activities relating to Native Hawaiian law.

Section 121 amends the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Act to include the registration of Indian students in the Spring semester.

Section 122, the Native Nations Leadership, Management and Policy Act of 2005 authorizes funding for leadership training, strategic and organizational development, and research and policy analysis to assist American Indian nations to achieve effective self-governance and sustainable economic development. This provision renews authorized funding for NNI's programs for a period of 10 years, beginning in fiscal year 2007. Dedicated funding for NNI is necessary to ensure the continuation of these important programs without further draining funds from the Udall Foundation's other educational activities.

Section 132 authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security, to establish a pilot program to enhance an Indian tribe's response to border activity. Some Indian tribes that inhabit land on or easily accessible to the United States and Canada or Mexico, bear extraordinary costs in responding to illegal immigration crossing and drug smuggling and almost always divert funds intended for local services to do so. While Federal and State law enforcement resources may supplement tribal efforts, tribal police, fire and emergency services provide the first and often only response because of their access to the border. A tribe's proximity to the border and its responsibility to the community for public safety and welfare, requires that they respond. This program would enhance tribal first responder capabilities, provide assistance for aerial and ground surveillance technologies, and communication capabilities, and facilitate coordination and cooperation with Federal, State, local and tribal governments in protecting the border. The Secretary may establish the selection criteria for participation in the program including the tribes' proximity to the border and the extent to which border crossing activity impacts existing tribal resources.

Section 201, Authorization of 99 year leases, amends Title 25 USC Section 415 providing for leases of restricted lands by adding several additional tribes to the list of tribes that have requested 99-year lease authority.

Section 202, Certification of rental proceeds, amends Title 25 USC Section 488 to permit actual rental proceeds from a lease to constitute the rental value of that land, and to satisfy the requirement for appraisal of that land.

Section 211, will permit the Navajo Nation's Sage Memorial Hospital to be considered a tribal contractor under the Indian Self-Determination Act, which will allow the hospital to obtain the benefits of coverage under the Federal Tort Claims Act and secure VA drug discounts.

Section 221, amends the American Indian Probate Reform Act of 2004 by correcting provisions relating to non-testamentary disposition, partition of highly fractionated Indian land, and Tribal probate codes.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact this important legislation.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD as follows:

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