Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
Representative Tom Cole
WASHINGTON - Tom Cole, the only American Indian in Congress, testified before the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Thursday that the failure to the Carcieri decision will be devastating to economic development in Indian Country.
In February 2009 the US Supreme Court ruled on the Carcieri v. Salazar case. The court ruled the land-in-trust provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act apply only to American Indian tribes that were under federal jurisdiction in 1934.
"This decision creates two classes of Indian This two class system is unacceptable and it is unconscionable for Congress not to act to correct the law as the Supreme Court interpreted it in the Carcieri decision," testified Congressman Cole.
"If Congress fails to act, the standard set forth in 'Carcieri v. Salazar' will be devastating to tribal sovereignty and economic development," he said in the concluding statement.
After completing his testimony, Congressman Cole was invited to join the US Senators on the Committee to sit at the dais during the testimony made by other witnesses.
Others testified during the hearing including, Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk, Indian Affairs, US Department of the Interior. Congressman Cole was afforded an opportunity to question Mr. Echo Hawk. The Congressman asked Mr. Echo Hawk to rank the issues faced by Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. Carcieri is the top priority of Indian Affairs, according to Mr. Echo Hawk.
Congressman Cole is an enrolled tribal member of the Chickasaw Nation. He represents the 4th Congressional District in Oklahoma.
Among the other witnesses, who one by one urged the Committee to "fix Carcieri," included:
The Committee room was filled with tribal officials who were in Washington this week seeking action on key Congressional legislation, including the action on the Carcieri language fix.
posted October 15, 2011 6:00 am edt
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