Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
by Probate Reform Act
WASHINGTON - The American Indian Probate Reform Act was passed into law by Congress in 2004 and has been amended three times since. The Act seeks to reduce and avoid fractionation of land on reservations.
Indian land fractionation is the result of allotments that have been divided among heirs through probate. With each generation, the amount of fractionation increases.
On Thursday, the US Senate on Committee on Indian Affairs heard testimony on the American Indian Probate Reform Act.
John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma testified that the American Indian Probate Reform Act has been "fantastic for his tribe" because it allowed the tribe to consolidate land that had been fractionated. On the consolidated land, the tribe built a casino that benefits the whole tribe.
“The Act was the next best thing since sliced bread,”
Sharon Redthunder, acting director of Indian Land Working Group, Elmer City, Washington, testified that the American Indian Probate Reform Act is a complex law that is difficult to understand and needs a lot of training. She recommends that there be annual workshops so that tribal employees can better understand the Act and can provide better advice to Indian landowners.
Several of the people who testified made comment on the slowness of the appraisals in Indian Country and how the timeliness slows down the probate process.
Others who made testimony are: David Gipp, Standing Rock Sioux, vice president of the National Congress of American Indians; Douglas Nash, Adjunct Professor, Institute for Indian Estate Planning and Probate, Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, Washington; and Majel Russell, Esq., Attorney at Law, Elk River Law Office, P.L.L.P., Billings, Montana, on behalf of COLT (Coalition of Large Tribes).
posted August 5, 2011 10:00 am edt
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