Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
76 Acre in Trust
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA - Saturday evening will be a time of celebration for the United Keetoowah Band (UKB) of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma which last month was approved to put 76 acres in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
It was a long time coming. The Tribe first began the process to have the land put into trust since Tribe ratified its constitution on October 3, 1950.
The most recent application was submitted in June 2004.
"We have fought for seven years to obtain this historic decision, which recognizes the Tribe's ability to properly serve our tribal members on our treaty lands," said Chief George Wickliffe of the Tribe.
The 76-acre parcel of land is located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and is home to the Tribe's sacred dance grounds, its community gathering and celebration place, site of its elder center and other government buildings.
The land is situated within the treaty boundaries of the historic Cherokee reservation. Relying on June 2009 and September 2010 decisions of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, the decision found that the Tribe will exercise jurisdiction over these trust lands: "the Cherokee Nation [of Oklahoma] does not have exclusive jurisdiction within the former Cherokee reservation, and the UKB [will] have exclusive jurisdiction over land that the United States holds in trust for the UKB." The decision further noted that once "the subject property is taken in trust, it will become Indian country."
Prior to this decision, the Tribe owned no trust lands. Thus, in the words of the decision, approving the application satisfies the Tribe's need to have the land taken into trust "for activities to facilitate self-determination and self-sufficiency."
Saturday's activities include a feast, stomp dances and fireworks.
posted June 23, 2011 7:00 am et
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