Tester introduces bill to fix checkerboarding of reservation land

Senator’s legislation will promote sovereignty, empower tribal land management, and strengthen tribal economies

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-Senator Jon Tester today delivered on his commitment to Native Americans by introducing legislation to streamline the process for placing tribal land into trust.

Tester’s Reservation Land Consolidation Act simplifies the process for land located on a reservation to be placed into trust for tribes. Currently, tribes must apply to the Interior Department if they want to place land into trust. This process is the same for land located on and off-reservation. Tester’s bill will shorten the process for on-reservation land applications so tribes can more quickly fix the checkerboarding that exists on too many reservations.

“This legislation promotes sovereignty and builds an environment where Native Americans can thrive,” said Tester, Vice Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee. “By fixing the checkerboarding of Indian lands, tribes can better grow their economies, manage their resources, and protect their communities. When we have a patchwork of land managers and owners, it makes it incredibly difficult for businesses, law enforcement, and communities to succeed.”

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, on-reservation applications make up approximately 80 percent of pending trust applications. Tester’s legislation aims to speed up the process and help address the backlog of pending applications.

Tester is also sponsoring legislation to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Carcieri decision which created harmful bureaucratic hurdles for tribes recognized after 1934 as they apply to place land into trust.

Tester’s Reservation Land Consolidation Act is available HERE.