Comments are due this Thursday, June 30th, for the Department of Interior (DOI)’s revisions to the fee-to-trust process and land acquisitions in 25 C.F.R. Part 151 and the Class III Gaming Compact submission and approval process in 25 C.F.R. Part 293. It is critical that the DOI hears from Tribal Governments on this matter. Draft comments are included below in this alert for the use of our Member Tribes.
For its proposed revisions to the regulations governing land acquisitions, the DOI is aiming to provide Tribal governments with a more efficient, less cumbersome, and less expensive fee-to-trust process. The DOI’s proposed amendments would add new sections to the existing Part 151 regulations that would: 1) Codify and clarify what it means to be “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934 for the purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act; 2) List out the specific documentation that must be submitted to request that land be acquired in trust status; 3) Identify how the Secretary will evaluate requests involving land contiguous to the boundaries of an Indian reservation; 4) Clarify how the Secretary conducts reviews of environmental conditions; and 5) Set forth how the Secretary will evaluate a request involving land for an “initial Indian acquisition.” The DOI’s proposed revisions would also add definitions, make clarifying edits throughout this Part, and establish the effect of the revised regulations on currently pending fee-to-trust applications.
On March 28, 2022, the Department of the Interior published a Dear Tribal Leader Letter announcing its intent to hold Tribal Consultations regarding potential revisions to 25 C.F.R. Part 151 and 25 C.F.R. Part 293. The DOI made clear in its materials, however, that these proposed revisions are only for the purposes of the scheduled Tribal Consultations, and only after such consultations will the DOI publish an official Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
The Indian Gaming Association has submitted comments and is available our Member Tribes for any assistance regarding this important update from DOI. Please contact Danielle Her Many Horses at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns regarding this alert.