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Nov. 29, 2013

Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Interior Department Approve Landmark Leasing Deal

By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor

In a landmark step for Native American self-determination, the U.S. Department of the Interior and Citizen Potawatomi Nation formally approved tribal leasing regulations in a signing ceremony Nov. 25. The regulations aim to help spur investment and commercial development on the nation’s trust lands in central Oklahoma.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn and Potawatomi Nation Chairman John Barrett participated in the ceremony at the Potawatomi National Cultural Heritage Center in Shawnee. The ordinance is the sixth approved by the Interior Department under the HEARTH Act (Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership), which was signed into law by President Obama in July 2012. The legislation restores the authority of federally recognized tribes to develop and implement their own laws governing the long-term leasing of Indian lands for residential, business and other purposes.

Secretary Jewell, who also chairs the White House Council on Native American Affairs, said in a statement: “The Citizen Potawatomi Nation now has the authority to decide how it wants to do business on its lands, making it easier for families to do things like buy and build houses or open businesses in the communities where they have lived for generations. Today’s action encourages economic development on Indian lands, generating investment, new jobs and revenues.”

“The very essence of self-determination is that it should be the tribe that decides how its lands may be used for the good of its members, and that is what the HEARTH Act and Interior’s comprehensive reform of Indian land leasing regulations does,” said Washburn. “These parallel efforts have a real impact for individuals and families who want to own a home or build a business. These initiatives help strengthen self-reliance and secure the well-being of future generations.”

Seal Courtesy of: www.potawatomi.org

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