Published December 7, 2016
WASHINGTON – Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma) was a supporter of Donald Trump in his run for the presidency. Mullin (Cherokee) served as co-chair of Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition, Since Trump won the presidency Mullin has voiced his support to privatize tribal lands to tap into energy products such as oil, natural gas and even coal.
In all probability, Mullin’s proposal to privatize tribal lands would garner major opposition by leaders across Indian Country. Mullin released the following statement on Tuesday:
In light of recent news coverage that has completely distorted my hopes for Indian Country under President-elect Donald Trump, I feel the need to clarify my comments, and alleviate any concern that Indian Country should fear the federal government privatizing their land.
The land entrusted to tribes belongs to the Native American people, and it ought to be up to them alone to decide how to best use and distribute the resources on their own land. This land and the rights to its use have developed over generations of treaty negotiations and trust authorities. We must continue to uphold those rights and allow tribes to continue on the course of self-determination laid out in those agreements.
In working with the incoming administration, I am confident that we can improve the land trusts and allow the tribes to be independent in determining their own use of resources and land. It is time to end the overreaching paternalism that has held American Indians back from being the drivers of their own destiny.
By removing public-land restrictions on Indian trust land, such as the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA), we are not “privatizing” Indian land. We must also remove the barriers from the decision-making process and stop forcing tribes to ask permission from federal entities like the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Self-determination in their own affairs is the only way for tribes to pull themselves from poverty and grow as a people. These acts of sovereignty are important because tribes know best what their people need and Natives have always been good stewards of our natural resources and land. It is my goal, and I will continue to urge President-elect Trump to provide tribes with the resources they need in order to best decide how their land should be developed.
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This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.