Home > 106th Congressional Bills > S. 1586 (rs) To reduce the fractionated ownership of Indian lands, and for other purposes. [Reported in Senate] ...

S. 1586 (rs) To reduce the fractionated ownership of Indian lands, and for other purposes. [Reported in Senate] ...


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106th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                S. 1586


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             July 26, 2000

                 Referred to the Committee on Resources

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
  To reduce the fractionated ownership of Indian lands, and for other 
                               purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Indian Land Consolidation Act 
Amendments of 2000''.

                   TITLE I--INDIAN LAND CONSOLIDATION

SEC. 101. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds that--
            (1) in the 1800's and early 1900's, the United States 
        sought to assimilate Indian people into the surrounding non-
        Indian culture by allotting tribal lands to individual members 
        of Indian tribes;
            (2) as a result of the allotment Acts and related Federal 
        policies, over 90,000,000 acres of land have passed from tribal 
        ownership;
            (3) many trust allotments were taken out of trust status, 
        often without their owners consent;
            (4) without restrictions on alienation, allotment owners 
        were subject to exploitation and their allotments were often 
        sold or disposed of without any tangible or enduring benefit to 
        their owners;
            (5) the trust periods for trust allotments have been 
        extended indefinitely;
            (6) because of the inheritance provisions in the original 
        treaties or allotment Acts, the ownership of many of the trust 
        allotments that have remained in trust status has become 
        fractionated into hundreds or thousands of undivided interests, 
        many of which represent 2 percent or less of the total 
        interests;
            (7) Congress has authorized the acquisition of lands in 
        trust for individual Indians, and many of those lands have also 
        become fractionated by subsequent inheritance;
            (8) the acquisitions referred to in paragraph (7) continue 
        to be made;
            (9) the fractional interests described in this section 
        often provide little or no return to the beneficial owners of 
        those interests and the administrative costs borne by the 
        United States for those interests are inordinately high;
            (10) in Babbitt v. Youpee (117 S Ct. 727 (1997)), the 
        United States Supreme Court found the application of section 
        207 of the Indian Land Consolidation Act (25 U.S.C. 2206) to 
        the facts presented in that case to be unconstitutional, 
        forcing the Department of the Interior to address the status of 
        thousands of undivided interests in trust and restricted lands;
            (11)(A) on February 19, 1999, the Secretary of Interior 
        issued a Secretarial Order which officially reopened the 
        probate of all estates where an interest in land was ordered to 
        escheat to an Indian tribe pursuant to section 207 of the 
        Indian Land Consolidation Act (25 U.S.C. 2206); and
            (B) the Secretarial Order also directed appropriate 
        officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to distribute such 
        interests ``to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries without 
        regard to 25 U.S.C. 2206'';
            (12) in the absence of comprehensive remedial legislation, 
        the number of the fractional interests will continue to grow 
        exponentially;
            (13) the problem of the fractionation of Indian lands 
        described in this section is the result of a policy of the 
        Federal Government, cannot be solved by Indian tribes, and 
        requires a solution under Federal law.
            (14) any devise or inheritance of an interest in trust or 
        restricted Indian lands is a matter of Federal law; and
            (15) consistent with the Federal policy of tribal self-
        determination, the Federal Government should encourage the 
        recognized tribal government that exercises jurisdiction over a 
        reservation to establish a tribal probate code for that 
        reservation.

SEC. 102. DECLARATION OF POLICY.

    It is the policy of the United States--
            (1) to prevent the further fractionation of trust 
        allotments made to Indians;
            (2) to consolidate fractional interests and ownership of 
        those interests into usable parcels;
            (3) to consolidate fractional interests in a manner that 
        enhances tribal sovereignty;
            (4) to promote tribal self-sufficiency and self-
        determination; and
            (5) to reverse the effects of the allotment policy on 
        Indian tribes.

SEC. 103. AMENDMENTS TO THE INDIAN LAND CONSOLIDATION ACT.

    The Indian Land Consolidation Act (25 U.S.C. 2201 et seq.) is 
amended--
            (1) in section 202--
                    (A) in paragraph (1), by striking ``(1) `tribe''' 
                and inserting ``(1) `Indian tribe' or `tribe''';
                    (B) by striking paragraph (2) and inserting the 
                following:
            ``(2) `Indian' means any person who is a member of any 
        Indian tribe or is eligible to become a member of any Indian 
        tribe, or any person who has been found to meet the definition 
        of `Indian' under a provision of Federal law if the Secretary 
        determines that using such law's definition of Indian is 
        consistent with the purposes of this Act;'';
                    (C) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph 
                (3);
                    (D) by striking the period at the end of paragraph 
                (4) and inserting ``; and''; and
                    (E) by adding at the end the following:
            ``(5) `heirs of the first or second degree' means parents, 
        children, grandchildren, grandparents, brothers and sisters of 
        a decedent.'';
            (2) in section 205--
                    (A) in the matter preceding paragraph (1)--
                            (i) by striking ``Any Indian'' and 
                        inserting ``(a) In General.--Subject to 
                        subsection (b), any Indian'';
                            (ii) by striking the colon and inserting 
                        the following: ``. Interests owned by an Indian 
                        tribe in a tract may be included in the 
                        computation of the percentage of ownership of 
                        the undivided interests in that tract for 
                        purposes of determining whether the consent 
                        requirement under the preceding sentence has 
                        been met.'';
                            (iii) by striking ``: Provided, That--''; 
                        and inserting the following:
    ``(b) Conditions Applicable to Purchase.--Subsection (a) applies on 
the condition that--'';
                    (B) in paragraph (2)--
                            (i) by striking ``If,'' and inserting 
                        ``if''; and
                            (ii) by adding ``and'' at the end; and
                    (C) by striking paragraph (3) and inserting the 
                following:
            ``(3) the approval of the Secretary shall be required for a 
        land sale initiated under this section, except that such 
        approval shall not be required with respect to a land sale 
        transaction initiated by an Indian tribe that has in effect a 
        land consolidation plan that has been approved by the Secretary 
        under section 204.'';
            (3) by striking section 206 and inserting the following:

``SEC. 206. TRIBAL PROBATE CODES; ACQUISITIONS OF FRACTIONAL INTERESTS 
              BY TRIBES.

    ``(a) Tribal Probate Codes.--
            ``(1) In general.--Notwithstanding any other provision of 
        law, any Indian tribe may adopt a tribal probate code to govern 
        descent and distribution of trust or restricted lands that 
        are--
                    ``(A) located within that Indian tribe's 
                reservation; or
                    ``(B) otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of that 
                Indian tribe.
            ``(2) Possible inclusions.--A tribal probate code referred 
        to in paragraph (1) may include--
                    ``(A) rules of intestate succession; and
                    ``(B) other tribal probate code provisions that are 
                consistent with Federal law and that promote the 
                policies set forth in section 102 of the Indian Land 
                Consolidation Act Amendments of 2000.
            ``(3) Limitations.--The Secretary shall not approve a 
        tribal probate code if such code prevents an Indian person from 
        inheriting an interest in an allotment that was originally 
        allotted to his or her lineal ancestor.
    ``(b) Secretarial Approval.--
            ``(1) In general.--Any tribal probate code enacted under 
        subsection (a), and any amendment to such a tribal probate 
        code, shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary.
            ``(2) Review and approval.--
                    ``(A) In general.--Each Indian tribe that adopts a 
                tribal probate code under subsection (a) shall submit 
                that code to the Secretary for review. Not later than 
                180 days after a tribal probate code is submitted to 
                the Secretary under this paragraph, the Secretary shall 
                review and approve or disapprove that tribal probate 
                code.
                    ``(B) Consequence of failures to approve or 
                disapprove a tribal probate code.--If the Secretary 
                fails to approve or disapprove a tribal probate code 
                submitted for review under subparagraph (A) by the date 
                specified in that subparagraph, the tribal probate code 
                shall be deemed to have been approved by the Secretary, 
                but only to the extent that the tribal probate code is 
                consistent with Federal law and promotes the policies 
                set forth in section 102 of the Indian Land 
                Consolidation Act Amendments of 2000.
                    ``(C) Consistency of tribal probate code with 
                act.--The Secretary may not approve a tribal probate 
                code, or any amendment to such a code, under this 
                paragraph unless the Secretary determines that the 
                tribal probate code promotes the policies set forth in 
                section 102 of the Indian Land Consolidation Act 
                Amendments of 2000.
                    ``(D) Explanation.--If the Secretary disapproves a 
                tribal probate code, or an amendment to such a code, 
                under this paragraph, the Secretary shall include in 
                the notice of disapproval to the Indian tribe a written 
                explanation of the reasons for the disapproval.
                    ``(E) Amendments.--
                            ``(i) In general.--Each Indian tribe that 
                        amends a tribal probate code under this 
                        paragraph shall submit the amendment to the 
                        Secretary for review and approval. Not later 
                        than 60 days after receiving an amendment under 
                        this subparagraph, the Secretary shall review 
                        and approve or disapprove the amendment.
                            ``(ii) Consequence of failure to approve or 
                        disapprove an amendment.--If the Secretary 
                        fails to approve or disapprove an amendment 
                        submitted under clause (i), the amendment shall 
                        be deemed to have been approved by the 
                        Secretary, but only to the extent that the 
                        amendment is consistent with Federal law and 
                        promotes the policies set forth in section 102 
                        of the Indian Land Consolidation Act of 2000.
            ``(3) Effective dates.--A tribal probate code approved 
        under paragraph (2) shall become effective on the later of--
                    ``(A) the date specified in section 207(g)(5); or
                    ``(B) 180 days after the date of approval.
            ``(4) Limitations.--
                    ``(A) Tribal probate codes.--Each tribal probate 
                code enacted under subsection (a) shall apply only to 
                the estate of a decedent who dies on or after the 
                effective date of the tribal probate code.
                    ``(B) Amendments to tribal probate codes.--With 
                respect to an amendment to a tribal probate code 
                referred to in subparagraph (A), that amendment shall 
                apply only to the estate of a decedent who dies on or 
                after the effective date of the amendment.
            ``(5) Repeals.--The repeal of a tribal probate code shall--
                    ``(A) not become effective earlier than the date 
                that is 180 days after the Secretary receives notice of 
                the repeal; and
                    ``(B) apply only to the estate of a decedent who 
                dies on or after the effective date of the repeal.
    ``(c) Authority Available to Indian Tribes.--
            ``(1) In general.--If the owner of an interest in trust or 
        restricted land devises an interest in such land to a non-
        Indian under section 207(a)(6)(A), the Indian tribe that 
        exercises jurisdiction over the parcel of land involved may 
        acquire such interest by paying to the Secretary the fair 
        market value of such interest, as determined by the Secretary 
        on the date of the decedent's death. The Secretary shall 
        transfer such payment to the devisee.
            ``(2) Limitation.--
                    ``(A) In general.--Paragraph (1) shall not apply to 
                an interest in trust or restricted land if, while the 
                decedent's estate is pending before the Secretary, the 
                non-Indian devisee renounces the interest in favor of 
                an Indian person.
                    ``(B) Reservation of life estate.--A non-Indian 
                devisee described in subparagraph (A) or a non-Indian 
                devisee described in section 207(a)(6)(B), may retain a 
                life estate in the interest involved, including a life 
                estate to the revenue produced from the interest. The 
                amount of any payment required under paragraph (1) 
                shall be reduced to reflect the value of any life 
                estate reserved by a non-Indian devisee under this 
                subparagraph.
            ``(3) Payments.--With respect to payments by an Indian 
        tribe under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall--
                    ``(A) upon the request of the tribe, allow a 
                reasonable period of time, not to exceed 2 years, for 
                the tribe to make payments of amounts due pursuant to 
                paragraph (1); or
                    ``(B) recognize alternative agreed upon exchanges 
                of consideration or extended payment terms between the 
                non-Indian devisee described in paragraph (1) and the 
                tribe in satisfaction of the payment under paragraph 
                (1).
    ``(d) Use of Proposed Findings by Tribal Justice Systems.--
            ``(1) Tribal justice system defined.--In this subsection, 
        the term `tribal justice system' has the meaning given that 
        term in section 3 of the Indian Tribal Justice Act (25 U.S.C. 
        3602).
            ``(2) Regulations.--The Secretary by regulation may provide 

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